Tuesday 24th March
It seems like no time at all since I was in Africa. My life these days is very much tied up with the people of Zambia, whether I am physically there or sitting at home in England. I used to think that hardly a week went by without some communication with friends in Monze or other parts of Zambia. Nowadays I seem to be in touch most days.
Today I spoke with Fr. Raphael the priest in charge at Our Lady of the Wayside church in Monze. Our church in Cheltenham St. Gregory's, together with St. Thomas More has adopted Our Lady of the Wayside as their parish project. Although we have been developing links over a number of years the formal parish endorsement gives us an impetus to do a bit more. Some of the youth washed parishioners cars and, together with other donations, £470 has been raised to repair the roof of the church in Monze. (I have experienced the need to be very selective about where you sit in the church during the rainy season!) We have also been busy raising money for education and intend to develop a close dialogue over the next few months.
I have continued to be involved with the Hands Around the World projects in Zambia. In January new students started school at PIZZ in Monze and at the training centre in Chisamba. A Global Giving challenge promoted by Hands Around the World raised more than £2,000 for PIZZ school which will make a huge difference, helping with the provision of extra books and desks and allowing work to be done to enable the school to be used as an examination centre – reducing future costs and making the process easier for the students. We are also putting forward a proposal for Kaliyangile in Chisamba which, if successful, should move the project much closer to long term sustainability.
The rain in Zambia was patchy this year and there are mixed reports in terms of the success of the maize crop. Jennipher has acquired maize seed and fertiliser for her support group from an NGO. (More than £4,000 of products – all she needed was £150 for the transport!) This should enable them to grow some food next year and will make a great difference. Jennipher's health hasn't been too good and she has needed extra medication. She is also concerned that one of her young children is not getting adequate nourishment. She is hoping to improve his diet during the coming months.
Luke is now married and Best is planning to return to Zambia from Namibia next month.
There has been a lot of other things happening, but for now I will leave things in Zambia at that.
This, my 10th trip, will be busy. (Not that I have been twiddling my thumbs on other visits!) I already have a mounting list of tasks to attend to, and this time I will not be totally alone. In August my granddaughter Amy, who will just be 15 years old, will come out to join me with Dilys. Dilys already has a lot of friends in Monze and I am sure that Amy will make very many in the couple of weeks she will be there. (She is certainly likely to be the centre of attraction) David, from HATW, is also coming out at the end of June beginning of July. I will be busy preparing for these visits as well as spending time with them while they are with me. I expect time to pass particularly quickly on this visit.
I will keep you posted occasionally on the preparations during the next few weeks and then have more than enough to report when I arrive back in Africa – volcanoes permitting!!
As always, with love and prayers