Tuesday, April 20, 2010

And Still it Rains!

Tuesday 20th April

So much for cloudless skies! We are currently having some moderate rain here. This is not good news. The maize should be drying ready for harvesting – if the rain continues it could rot. Other crops such as groundnuts could start to germinate and also be lost.

On Saturday I went with Charles and Reymond to check out the PEASSA project site East of Chichanga dam. There are now a few goats, chickens and a pig in addition to the garden and fields. A couple of banana plants are now growing and Reymond brought some mangos to plant o the site. We didn’t stay long because Charles was due to attend a meeting with World Vision on his return.

I decided that I needed to have a break, so I refused to meet anyone after lunch. Instead I made my way to the little dam to the West of the town, walked around it and settled down eventually to rest on some grass in the shade. It was good to relax for a while and enjoy the nature that surrounded me. I am missing the book of Zambian birds! I have noticed a number of birds of prey around the town this year, but I am not too sure of the variety. Around the lake a few African Jacandas hopped out of the grass briefly and then disappeared in the thick vegetation, a snake eagle floated effortlessly on the thermals trying to spot its lunch and a small flock of ducks dropped into the lake and vanished behind the tall grasses. The activity was less than I usually observe. A few cattle wandered by, along with a few goats, but pasture and water are not a problem at this time, so the dam is not as important as it is later in the year.

I wondered back past the minibuses being washed at the waters edge and, at home, finished another of the novels I brought to Zambia.

During the day Dilys rang me. She is not very well but improving a little. We discussed the situation caused by the volcanic ash. I hadn’t taken in the full implications from the little snips of news I had caught during the past few days. It seemed clear from Dilys that the problem could be around for some time – maybe months, if not years. My return trip to England is likely to be affected. It seems clear to me that attempts will be made to prove that it is safe to fly and no doubt one country will take the risk – I doubt that England will be the first. It there is a crash or even near catastrophe the effect will be enormous.

I have subsequently read some information from the BBC website that confirm my views. There is also a lot of confusion about what people stranded – as I might well be – can do about the situation. It is somewhat un-precedented. Still I am in a far better position than most. I desperately want to get home to Dilys and the famiy – I have childminding commitments on the Saturday, two days after I am due to return. However, I could stay on here for a while, without tremendous problems. I have plenty to do and can find cheap (or free!) accommodation. I haven’t any formal work to get back to or any urgent commitments beyond the family. Most people can’t say that and will have all sorts of problems as a result of the disruption.

It does make me realise just how fragile is the infrastructure we humans have made. It is made even more fragile by using economics (money) as the controlling element. If most European flights are grounded for the next two years I wonder how the systems will cope? We are aware of the immense forces of nature – events over the past few months have demonstrated their power and we seem to be in a time of increased seismic activity (or maybe they are occurring in particularly vulnerable areas.) It is unusual for Europe to be badly affected – and for once it is our prosperity that has made us vulnerable – it is usually poverty that creates vulnerability. Even in this case farmers in Kenya and other places will be suffering, since they can’t get their products to the European markets.

We know that there are a number of significant natural events that will have devastating results when they occur – the splitting of the island of La Palma in the Canaries will cause a huge tsunami to hit the US and the eruption of the super volcano in Yellowstone will affect the whole world. One day these events will happen and we are likely to be powerless to prevent them. Perhaps we are being reminded that there is one with far greater power than ourselves and in the meantime we should learn to respect the creation he has made.

Sunday was spent at church and with St. Veronica’s Community. I was back to work afterwards to catch up on notes for people back home.

Yesterday I spent the morning with Mrs. Sianga. We have started a student sponsorship scheme through Hands Around the World to cover some of the education costs at the school. We sorted of details for the children sponsored and I met one girl who we hope a class back in the UK will support. The children are either orphaned or otherwise disadvantaged. For example one child has parents who are both unwell and they are trying to support 13 children. Without schools such as the PIZZ school run by Mrs. Sianga these children would have no hope of an education. The sponsorship scheme is one way of trying to ensure the long term sustainability of such projects. (Details are available on the HATW website www.hatw.org.uk for anyone interested.)

In the afternoon I collected some baskets from Buntolo. I will need to buy another bag to bring them back to the UK – I should have acquired something like the enormous foldaway bag I was lent last year!

As I mentioned the rain has not gone away. It has just stopped now after a couple of hours.

I better make use of the opportunity to get to the Internet café and post this blog.

Best wishes


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