16th October 2010
Six months after returning from Zambia I am about to make another visit.
As usual I am thinking that there must be a lot I need to do in preparation and no doubt the day before I leave I will be rushing around trying to do things I should be doing now.
The weather in Zambia will have been dry since I left – possibly with no rain at all in the intervening months. Temperatures are rising – low to mid thirties being the normal maximum daily temperature. Much of the green will have gone to be replaced by a grey-brown parched and dusty land.
I have been in regular touch with my friends back in Monze and Chisamba trying to keep track of progress. The reality though is that internet access and mobile phones cannot replace face to face contact. Only by sitting with a friend in Zambia can I start to overcome some of the vast differences between us. There are lots of difficult issues to discuss and somehow even the phone is too impersonal and it would be so easy to end up with misunderstandings.
(The picture here is of Choolwe with Jennipher and Soloman)
Diven has now remarried and his shop is moving forward slowly. Jennipher is doing wonderful work but has suffered another tragedy. Choolwe, who joined Jennipher last year from Zimbabwe with her daughters Margaret and Anna, died two weeks ago from measles. Choolwe must have been in her early twenties – though she seemed much younger. Her daughter Margaret is probably 6 or 7 and Anna only 1 year old. It is tempting to think that such a loss in Zambia can't be felt as painfully as in the UK, but having been with so many friends who have suffered bereavement in Zambia I am aware the pain is just as bad – even though it might be more common.
I received an e-mail today from a friend in the USA who had been reading a book written by someone who had been travelling through Africa and had come to the conclusion that NGOs did more harm than good by creating dependency. I wouldn't defend everything that NGOs do but I know that everyday I meet people who would not be alive but for donated ARVs or food supplements. I am also aware of many that would not have died if additional nutrition or medicines had been available. Of course if we had a fair world, where the poorest weren't exploited by the wealthy, the people of Zambia and other countries could become self-sufficient. There is currently a campaign run by Christian Aid and other aid agencies to get large multinational companies to publish details of how much tax they pay in countries where they work. It is believed that large amounts of money due to poor countries is not paid by some companies whose names we are very familiar with. It is unfairness like this that takes much more from the poorest than is provided by NGOs.
I am told that my room next to the chickens in Chisamba is still available – though a shed next door was recently burnt down. I still have to negotiate for accommodation in Monze.
As usual this blog will be fairly quiet until I set off on my journey on 3rd November – then no doubt pages will flow unchecked for the next few weeks. I hope that you will join me on this journey and that I am kept well in check by the one who is responsible for all that is good. Please pray for me as I prepare for another adventure.
With love and prayers