Monday, December 7, 2009


3rd December 2009

It is time to reflect on this year's visit to Zambia.

When I look back I have a general feeling of satisfaction. Every visit is different and I knew that this one would differ in several significant respects. Firstly I had no full time job at the hospital and secondly I was aware that some of my time would be spent about 150 miles from Monze in Chisamba.

Projects that previously I had tried to fit into my 'spare time' at weekends and in evenings could now be given time during the normal day. This took me some time to get used to – and I still felt a little guilty even by the end of my stay. I tried to give myself some spare time - particularly at weekends – despite not having a 'full-time' job, I rarely managed to find this time. However, I did manage to spend significant periods of time with people involved in the various projects and this enabled me to build on our relationships and get to know them better. In particular I was able to get to know a number of people in Chisamba and develop friendships there. I was surprised to find that Chisamba was more rural than Monze and was delighted to see troops of monkeys along the road.

Having spent so much time in recent years in Zambia, I am now very comfortable in the Country. I now find many things that are strange for people in the UK very normal and no longer notice them. I am sometimes surprised when I am noticed, though of course as the only 'white' person around it isn't surprising that I stand out! I often walk around areas rarely frequented by other 'white' people, travel on the local buses and attend services where everyone else is a 'Zambian of colour'. In some instances I have become a regular and it is the Zambian visitors who are introduced to me. However, I am still constantly surprised and my preconceptions are overturned.

Good examples this year were when I discovered that there was a Zambian ornithological society and that it had produced an excellent book on local birds. For some reason I hadn't considered that such an organisation might exist and lokked for books on Zambian birds in the UK. Another was the Monze rally where rally cars competed on tracks around Monze golf course and Moorings campsite. Sometimes it is easy to think that Zambia is not connected to the rest of the world. Though so much is different it is very difficult nowadays to be completely isolated from the rest of the world. In many ways this makes it more difficult for people who are now well aware that the way they are forced to live is very different from us. Even in Monze there are a couple of very comfortable hotels, you can see some very expensive cars driving down the main street and you can buy flat screen TVs in the high street. Yet for many a wheelbarrow is a major asset and enough nshima to stop the hunger is the main aim.

This year I experienced a couple of dull days in Zambia – on the other fifty days I awoke around 6 am to the glorious bright sunshine and clear blue skies! It is now 15.30 in England and the daylight is already fading and I can't remember seeing the sun at all today. It is certainly good for my soul to experience the sunlight so prevalent in Zambia.

If only it could be harnessed for the benefit of the local people. There is certainly more than enough power in the Zambian sun to satisfy their needs and have plenty over to supply others. Global warming is the biggest threat to humanity (In parts of the Third World it is already resulting in many lives being destroyed) I wonder whether we will wake up in time to recognise that there is plenty of power available from renewable sources before we destroy the world as we know it by continuing to use fossil fuels?

As I looked through some of the bits and pieces that I have brought back with me I came across a report entitled Kalundu poultry project proposal. This relates to the community school south of Monze town. The proposal is to use a building to grow chickens and thereby provide an income to support the costs of the school. Even now when I hear of these small projects I am usually surprised by the costs. This project is estimated to cost about £950 for 400 chickens. I think that maybe finding £250 for 100 chickens to start with might prove more realistic. This, like many other projects, is worthy of consideration. The community are doing their best to provide education for their children but they really have so little that the most basic items are difficult to provide. A poultry house could provide a much needed boost.

Charles gave me some notes written by Jamu Kalosola born in 1914. He says that he was born of 'intermarriage' – his father being a Shona from Zimbabwe and his mother a Tonga from Zambia. He recounts how it was the practice in Tongaland to establish a Gweebelo (Village Court) and here the men of the vilage would gather to exchange views and stories. I have also notes from Sophia Kamona and Sylvester Maluza both born in 1920. I am interested in hearing more about these people and their lives. I am also very interested in hearing the traditional stories that would have been recounted in the Gweebelo. I will continue to collect these histories and hopefully also receive some stories. One day I hope to be able to publish these as a booklet or even book that will help support the small project that Charles runs.

I will include with this blog a selection of photos from the past few weeks in Zambia. Since leaving Zambia I have kept in contact with a number of my friends back there. Jennipher planted her tree last week at the District health Offices in Monze, accompanied by about 20 of her support group members. Teddy has received his exam results and passed his diploma in IT with a credit – so he deserves our congratulations for this achievement which was done despite tremendous obstacles – including his family seeing very little of him over the past few years, while he has been studying after work. New chickens and feed have been ordered at Kaliyangile. It is hoped that teachers and students will be back in January. We are busy selling cards at St. Gregory's church in support of the people of Our Lady of the Wayside parish – this year we are allowing the local priest to have greater say in what the money is to be used for. I am told that the rains are still good in and around Monze. The heavy rains seem to have subsided a bit, but there is still enough rain to keep the crops well watered.

I am being asked to go back to Zambia earlier next year. This will depend on my family commitments, but it is clear that I will continue to work with my many Zambian projects wherever I happen to be residing in at time.

So for now I will sign off. I am toying with setting up a Facebook site. So you might soon be able to find me there.

As always this comes with my love and my prayers,