Thursday 11th November
Most of today has been spent converting a few spreadsheets into ACCESS tables – I think I counted 62! That is a start – however I have a long way to go before the data is ready for me to use – perhaps 20 – 30 hours was correct! Sorry about the computer speak!
Another lie in today – even though I had an early night (about 23hrs). So after arising a bit before 7 a.m and enjoying a bowl of cornflakes, I set about rinsing my clothes and hanging them on the line I bought yesterday. Washing machines are uncommon here, so like most other people I use a bowl and some Boom – which is a detergent paste.
At about 11 am I was taken to the police station for an hour or so.
Perhaps I should explain that Jennipher recognised the need of prisoners who were HIV+ to be supported. She is therefore in the process of setting up an HIV/AIDS support group at the prison and she thought it would be good for me to become involved.
Prison in Zambia is not a place where you would want to be! Cells are quite large – at least this is the case at Monze – but each can hold perhaps 20 or more prisoners. At Monze prison there is just a concrete floor for the men to sleep on. They rely on relatives to provide them with food and if they have no relatives they rely on persuading others to share there food – and naturally it isn't without a cost.
For prisoners with AIDS the issues are many. The drugs can be harmful without food. The people need to take the drugs regularly – so drugs must be accessible etc. There is also the need for the men and women to understand the way that AIDS is spread. People who have spent time in prison often spread AIDS both inside prison and when they return to their communities.
Jennipher wants to try to educate both the police officers and the prisoners, and hopes to be able to provide food for those without relatives. They also hope to provide testing and counselling services. In this project Jennipher is working closely with the Victim Support Office within the prison. This team deals with all the abuse cases in addition to other issues.
Unfortunately, because Jennipher needed to look after Mike last night and this morning, we were late for our appointment – Mike is much better today and is able to stay at home in Pemba. The ladies who are intending to prepare meals had left to feed their husbands!
I did meet the Victim Support Tam and one of the police officers involved in the project. I was careful to stress that they mustn't expect me to be able to provide funds, however I was willing to tell people about the problems faced by the prisoners. I hope that eventually I will find a few people in the UK willing to become involved in Jenniphers work. As long as I continue to come out to Zambia I can provide a direct link, providing feedback to all concerned.
Today I was able to provide some funds for 15 of Jennipher's most vulnerable clients. This will provide some extra food and some seed, for those fit enough to plant it (with extra energy from the food). Fortunately when I am in England I am often given money to use here. So this particular donation will be well spent and I can provide feedback for the donor. Last year I was able to do the same for a small number of clients. Most of them are now doing OK – without that little extra, at a critical point, the outcome could have been different. I can't emphasise too much what a difference can be made by what seems to us to be so little.
I met briefly with Mrs. Sianga who, after several hours waiting, told me she was no 6 in the queue at the bank. (someone was guarding her spot) Fortunately there wasn't a queue at the ATM so, between us, the teachers will be paid and the equipment needed for the exams can be purchased.
At about 4 pm I headed for the Hospital. Outside I met Chriscola who was the first at the hospital to give me a big hug on Tuesday. Yesterday she told me she was suffering with her tooth – so I brought some oil of cloves in today, together with a few cotton buds. A few years ago I needed some work done on my tooth, but didn't have time before I left the UK. The dentist told me to take oil of cloves with me and, if it caused problems, the treatment would sort it out until I returned – in three months! Fortunately I didn't need to use it, but I came across a friend who did! I am told it works very well. Chriscola was the second person to get a magic bottle since I arrived in Monze on Monday evening! I was met on Tuesday by Robert who was in a lot of pain and had been told to see me by Jennipher who knows that I usually have a bottle or three – though rarely enough!
Dental treatment here usually means an extraction – if you can afford it!
I went to mass at 17 hrs to find that mass at the chapel was at 7hrs today. Fr Rogers apologised and gave communion to myself and the two nuns who also turned up for mass.
I made appointments with three people for 18hrs this evening. I didn't really expect everyone to turn up – and if they did it would be chance if they arrived at the same time. In the event only Reymond came around – at about 19.30. We caught up a little and I showed him photos of Dilys' birthday celebration in July when all our children and grandchildren were present – including our 'Burmese son', Fr. Tino.
I expect another relaxing day tomorrow when no doubt I will again put my feet up and soak up the sun by the pool – perhaps in my dreams!
With love and prayers