Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Child Labour, Laughter and Singing

Tuesday 7th December

You can almost see the grass grow in Monze at the moment! The rain is now coming regularly in showers and – especially at night in longer spells. People were wearing coats today! However,I am still comfortable in shirt sleeves. We have had clouds now for several days, with relatively little sun. Every time I look outside, the grass is higher and less of the sandy soil is visible. The transformation of Zambia at this time is wonderful, every bit as much as our Spring – but much quicker and more dramatic.

At lunchtime I bought some eggs of a young boy. It is difficult to know what is best. Boys of 10 or 11 – some much younger – shouldn't be selling goods on the streets, they should be at school. However for many if they didn't help earn money for the family – they and those who rely on them would go hungry. Some will even be looking after sick parents. Of course this shouldn't be necessary, but until we are prepared to share more of our wealth with the poorest the situation won't change. Until then I will have to decide whether to put a few kwacha in the children's pockets or tell them that they should be in school!

Yesterday evening I went to the market for a few items. It is a while since I visited my friend who has a prime corner spot as you enter the covered market. As well as onions and tomatoes, I can rely on her for herbs and spices. I usually get a supply of curry powder, paprika and piri piri (chilli) from her. She also sells “village garlic” which is very powerful and yesterday she had some fresh root ginger. It was beginning to sprout so she told me to plant it! While at her stall another friend from St. Veronica's – also a marketeer - came up to me and said I should buy some mushrooms from her – she was just fetching them!

I visited a couple of other stalls picking up among other vegetables a cabbage. My biggest problem with cabbages is finding one that is small enough! I have only just over a week to eat it!! I found one that is only 5 – 6 inches in diameter – these cabbages have a very firmly packed heart so it probably weighs about 1 kg (2lbs) and cost 1,500 kwacha (20p). I found my friend back at her stall and I bought three mushrooms from her for 5,000 kwacha (60p) – but since the smallest was about 6 inches (15cm) in diameter, I had enough for two substantial meals!

This evening for supper I had garlic mushrooms with Kapenta (very small fish - sold dried) fried with pounded groundnuts and rice.

I have continued to read “chasing joy” and I am enjoying it. Edward Hays seems to be my kind of priest. He moved from the theme of laughter to that of singing – he suggests that we should sing regularly unaccompanied and on our own. However, he claims that the church is a place were people are always solemn and even miserable, where there isn't spontaneous laughter, lots of smiling or joyful singing. He hasn't visited Zambia!! I might try to contact him and put him right! I suspect however that he is reflecting what he sees in the US and unfortunately is also very much true in the UK. It is a shame that Christian churches can seem to be joyless places, when the God that I know is in the smiling faces and laughter I see all around me here. And yes it is common to come across people in the streets of Monze singing (solo) as they make their cheerful way about town.

This evening I called to the chapel for mass. The bishop celebrated the mass for our congregation of about 10 people. At the cathedral I don't think I have known him celebrate daily mass. He is usually present but takes a back seat and allows one of the other priests to be the principle celebrant. He occasionally visits the outlying churches and celebrates mass for those congregation – as he did this evening.

As I left the hospital I met Jennipher heading my way. She had said that she would call around earlier, but was detained at a meeting and would have gone straight home had our paths not crossed. She was visiting a client in hospital. He works as a security guard and last night some people came to rob the place he was guarding. He went to investigate and was shot in the neck. Although such instances are not common, there are occasional instances of shooting in this area. The patient had been looking after his mother who is largely bedridden, though today she was trying to tend to him in Monze Hospital. They will probably try to transfer him to Lusaka where they are better able to treat him.

I was expecting Teddy this evening, but either my phone has gone mute, or it's my ears – because I see I have missed two calls from him!

I must rush because I have another webcam test to perform!

Take care


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