Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Day in Lusaka

Tuesday 9th November

I am now settled in Monze in very familiar surroundings.

Yesterday I had intended getting a bus from Lusaka, where Justine had agreed to take me. However, Justine's brother-in-law, Monti, was travelling to Choma and subsequently to Livingstone, therefore travelling through Monze. He offered to take me from Lusaka if I could wait in the city until 12 hrs. Being no more than a couple hours after I could leave anyway – and knowing that the journey would be quicker by car, I readily agreed. At 12 hrs Monti was held up waiting for money from the bank. We met at 14hrs but he was still at the bank. We put my bags into his vehicle and Justine dropped me at Downtown where I agreed to wait. At 15 hrs Monti rang to say he was in a meeting but would see me soon. At 16 hrs he arrived, having spent a long time in the Lusaka traffic jams. We set off to pick up his colleague who was staying close by. Earlier this year there was terrible flooding in Lusaka – so a major drainage system is being installed. As a result the former route to the colleagues house was completely cut off by a long and very large ditch and some big pipes. Having spent ¾ hour - along with a hundred other vehicles – finding no way through, we joined the traffic jam back into town – the only possible route left. It was therefore some time after 18hrs that we finally headed out of Lusaka and headed for Monze.

Our time in Lusaka wasn't entirely wasted. Justine bought a wheel bearing for his car, picked up forms for registering Kaliyangile and found out more about the process involved. I bought a USB modem to go with this laptop, which will allow me to post this blog from my flat here in Monze. While waiting at the Downtown shopping centre I happened to meet Fr. Maambo, who now has a parish outside of Monze and separately came across Sr. Gertrude, now at a convent in Mazabuka.

We travelled well, though we met several broken down trucks en-route. Travelling on Zambian roads at night is especially treacherous. There are many people walking at the side of the road and people riding bikes without any lights – and this along totally unlit roads. Is was a broken down truck that caused my friend Bentoe to lose his life in 2006, along with Rose - both of them were managers at Monze Mission Hospital. Their vehicle didn't have time to stop and hit the truck while still travelling at speed.

At about 21 hrs I arrived at my flat! The flat is part of a complex of buildings owned by the Catholic Diocese of Monze used for a youth training project and also housing offices for the Diocesan Projects Management Team. I will be doing a little work for the team as one of my little sidelines!

It was good to walk into familiar and comforting surroundings. The flat has all I need – a bedroom, lounge, kitchen and bathroom, with electricity and even a warm shower!

I went straight over to Tooters where I met Diven and had a meal and a drink. Mr. Longu – a driver from the hospital, currently working nights, greeted me and welcomed me back to Monze. I attacked the Internet when I got back to the flat. It was well after midnight when I turned in.

Last night there was a decent amount of rain. It was overcast first thing this morning – though the sun soon burnt it's way through. I popped down the corridor outside my flat to the offices and said a quick hallo to Sr. Barbara, the Admin Manager, and Soloman Phiri, the Projects Manager and CAFOD partner. I also arranged to meet later with the Accountant to discuss the database I was developing. (I have to admit that I was disappointed that he hadn't seen the CD I sent from the UK with the new database – though I knew it had arrived.)

Jennipher came around some time after 10hrs and we caught up on a few things. I had brought over a solar powered (and wind-up) radio donated by a friend. Jennipher had asked for radios for her groups. She explained that the radios would bring a variety of benefits. Firstly they allowed people to keep in touch with world events, she also explained that clients need to take medicines at regular times and that many have no wristwatch – so the radio would help them to know the time. Some of her clients apparently walk quite a long way at night to check the time with a friend. (I showed her that the radio provided also had a clock which went on when the radio was turned off.), thirdly there are educational programmes available on the radio – in particular a local radio station (Radio Chikuni) provides a series of primary school lessons. Children who do not attend school will gather around the radio to learn. There are no doubt other valuable ways the radios will be used - I only wished I could have brought more. If you would like to help to Jennipher's AIDS support groups by providing solar radios or provide other support please let me know.

I had banana sandwiches with Jennipher for lunch. After lunch I was on my way down the corridor to meet with the Accountant when I noticed another office where a familiar face greeted me. Vincent was very keen to work with me on the database and was aware of my CD etc. Not for the first time I had failed to recognise a face – the Accountant is not involved in what I am doing and was therefore understandably vague! I sorted out a new appointment and apologised to the Accountant for my mistake!

Having a free afternoon I headed for the hospital. As usual I was greeted by many even before reaching the gates. My memory for names is getting very bad – I keep going blank, even with people I know well. Some of those I did remember include Motty, Judy, Dr. Mvula, Robert, Ian and Fr. Rogers. I received very warm greetings from all and hugs from many – including some of the men!

Eventually I found Teddy and spent some time catching up. I have known Teddy since 2004 and we have worked closely since the death of Bentoe, who was also a very close friend of Teddy.

I attended mass at the Hospital Chapel before heading back. At the exit to the hospital Ireen spotted me and threw her arms around me. Ireen is my tailor – some of you might have admired some of the lovely shirts she has made me over the years. She walked back towards my flat with me and asked what I had brought her. This is a common greeting from friends here. I usually tell them I bring greetings from the UK and they accept it with a smile! Ireen said that I could buy her a chicken as “relish”! (relish is any food eaten with nshima) I don't usually cave in, but Ireen is a good friend and gives me the warmest greeting of anyone, so she chose a chicken from the seller who operates just outside the gates of the diocesan compound.

The market starts outside the gates so it isn't difficult for me to pick up some provisions. So I stocked up for my evening meal and grabbed a few more vegetables. I had a number of admiring comments from people surprised that I eat mussela – a local root vegetable.

On my return to my flat I noticed more than usual flies, these seemed familiar to me. Of course – flying ants! - or inswa. These fly in huge numbers at the start of the rains. I will expect to be treated to a bowlful of these creatures soon – fried and salted of course! Just don't think too much as you eat them!!

Diven joined me again this evening and shared my quick meal of scrambled eggs with fried rice, onion and tomato. Reymond called around but didn't come in as I already had a guest. He will call again tomorrow.

I have three appointments made for tomorrow, so I will be busy tomorrow and they might confirm that I will be exceptionally busy over the next few weeks.

Bye for now


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