Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The real work begins

Wednesday 10th November

I wasn't wrong about a bit of work coming my way!!

I met with Mrs. Sianga at PIZZ school at 9hrs – after another very late night, I slept in until after 7 hrs this morning! The grade 9 students are sitting their examinations next week. I was invited to meet them and say a few words. I greeted them, talked about the English weather and wished them good luck with their exams. Afterwards 6 students were chosen to talk to me a little about how being at the school had helped them. I also asked them what they would like to do given the opportunity. It was difficult for them being put on the spot, but I tried to put them at their ease and listened to what they had to say – Cleemore, a boy of 15, told me that without the school some of them would be out on the streets. He was pleased that they had uniforms and even got breakfast. It is very humbling to be thanked for such simple things. I hope that we are able to help more children like Cleemore and somehow ensure that he and his friends never have to go back to the streets. One of the teachers told me that the growing number of street children in Monze is becoming a major problem.

After having an enjoyable chat with the students, I next had a meeting with four of the teachers – the Headteacher and School Director (Mrs. Sianga) were also present. It proved a very useful discussion that enabled us to get to know each other better. As I repeat endlessly, building relationships is everything. The teachers here have a difficult time. Many have been waiting for a government job for years, after completing their training. PIZZ school takes the most disadvantaged children – so they cannot afford fees. The teachers inevitably are paid a lot less than they would get from the government, so they at least need to know that they are valued and that they are making a positive contribution to the lives of the students and their families. Hands Around the World, who I represent here, have recently introduced a sponsorship scheme that helps with some of that funding and allows the sponsor from the UK to receive feedback on one of the students. (You can find more on the website )

Jennipher was in town again today. She had received a message that one of her children – Mike – had collapsed at school. She was on her way to Namala, where he boards, to collect him and take him back to Pemba – a round trip of a hundred miles or so. She was meant to meet me tomorrow for another small project, but we will need to see how Mike is.

After lunch I met with Vincent to talk about the Diocesan projects. He has done a lot of work analysing details of a questionnaire using spreadsheets. It is clear he has a very good understanding of the capabilities of Excel and has done a good job. I think that the most useful thing for me to do is to give him some training on designing ACCESS databases. I think he will pick it up quickly and all being well he won't need me after I leave! It is always much better if you can pass on skills rather than provide services. When problems arise it is very difficult to sort them from the UK, if local people have the skills they can resolve problems and develop solutions themselves. I will import all the base data from the spreadsheets which is only 20 – 30 hours work!! (Let's hope I can reduce that!), do a few days training, work with Vincent to develop a few reports and put my feet up on Friday afternoon!!

Next stop Dr. Mvula! Fortunately he was still in his meeting and not likely to emerge any time soon, so those bits of shopping I hadn't got around to – including the umbrella – were fitted in. Of course I greeted a great number of friends around town, including, Patrick, Mr. Chiiya, Bimbi, Fr. Kenan and Marvel. Marvel was one of the many I didn't recognise. He reminded me that we moulded bricks together in 2003 on my first visit to Monze. He was driving past and had a young lad in the front seat with him. He told me it wasn't his son but he now had a daughter the same age. In Zambia, having a driving licence means you are doing better than most – if you can afford fuel for the car you really are doing well! (By the way, a litre of petrol is just under £1 at the moment and the most Zambians earn less than £1 in a day.)

I am easing myself back into cooking – Dilys has been looking after me recently at home. Supper this evening was a sausage stir-fry with onions, spring onions, carrot, sweet pepper, green beans and aubergine, together with a helping of rice. (I have no problem with my five a day – in fact I am probably overdosing on fruit and vegetables – just wait till the mangoes on the tree outside become ripe!!)

Tonight I need an early night and I have said more than enough for today!!



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