Thursday, August 4, 2011

Back to Chisamba

Tuesday 2nd August

My jumper has stayed on all of today apart from when I had lunch! I am sure that this is not how it should be in August!!

I am now once again in Chisamba. I have put off the return to Kalyingile in the hope that some additional funds would arrive. The project here, as everywhere, struggles because long term sustainability can only be achieved with outside help and sufficient initial funds to kick start income generating activities. This project is still at the stage where an additional kick start is badly needed. Nevertheless there is some training taking place and the possibility of helping some young people to gain skills that should provide a living for them in future.

The past week or so it has been windy – a feature of July. The windpump is whirring at a magnificent pace and, but for a leak, caused apparently by the lack of a non-return valve, the impressive sysem of tanks and reservoirs would be overflowing and even the ponds wouldn't be able to leak fast enough to use all the water. I delight in the energy that comes so freely from the Lord. I can never quite get over the way a cross wind is capable of happily blowing yachts on their way, though they are travelling in opposite directions. My torch works very well and all I do to kep it charged is to place it on the windowsill during the day. Most of the power in Zambia comes from hydroelectric power obtained by just getting the water to turn a few turbines on it's way downhill. Victoria Falls and the Kariber dam provide huge amounts of electricity – both of course are huge features. The falls one of God's finest and the Dam one of man's biggest – if not greatest – creating one of the largest man made lakes in the world.

On Saturday I eventually met up with Vincent. He is spending some of this week on an ACCESS course so that when we meet again we should move fast! He gave me a bit of homework to do while in Chisamba. I paid a visit to the local dam in the afternoon and this time was left to reflect on my own. The usual birds were about and also a small heron Рa Squacco Heron Рthat I haven't noticed before. In flight its white wings make it look like an egret, however on landing it becomes a brown flecked bird like a small bittern or partridge. Unless you've followed it, you wouldn't believe it was the same bird. I am becoming rather blas̩ about the pied kingfishers as they circle the lake diving for the small fish Рas yet I haven't seen a catch.

On Saturday evening I met Diven and we visited Tooters for a bite to eat and a couple of drinks – Mosi for me and cokes for him! This has become a tradition over the years and I enjoy the company and discussions. We often talk about areas of difference between the very different worlds we inhabit. Diven knows what it is like to have to struggle to survive – quite literally. I am fortunate to have always had food in the house. From first hand experience, Diven enlightens me about some aspects of life in Zambia that I find difficult to comprehend and I am grateful to have someone who is happy to share this with me. In return I can tell him about my world, which again he finds quite difficult to understand.

I was not expecting great things from the attempted video-link on Sunday. I was beginning to think that maybe it was a waste of time and not really wanted by anyone else anyway. I just missed Fr. Joseph who was saying the masses at Our Lady of the Wayside – I hadn't mentioned my plans! I kept telling myself to relax and leave everything in God's hands, but like Peter in last week's gospel after taking a couple of steps forward I quickly sink into the waves. I arrived at the church not long after 9 hrs. On checking the buildings they were are securely locked. Last year, when I was nearing the end of my visit, I noticed a flock of swallows playing around the church building – the only time I have seen them in such abundance. On Sunday a couple of swallows were showing off their acrobatic skills darting around the building where I had hoped to set up the laptop, seeing just how close they could come at great speed, yet always missing me by what seemed like only inches. So I was in trouble with this week's plan to use the web-cam inside the building . I had a quick glance in church but realised that to set it up in church would be too disruptive. However, Sr. Gabriela came out when she saw me. I mentioned my plans and she said she had a key and would open the very room I had in mind. There appeared to be no power, but since Rupiah Banda, the President of Zambia, was due in Monze later I was confident it would not pose a problem!

I set up the kit and left it in the room, Sr. Gabriela even sent George Moonga to see if I was OK with everything and he demonstrated that the round two pin plug could really be made to fit in the square three pin socket.(I had decided that this particular plug had the pins too close together.)

Everyone told me that the weather was bad. This was apparently why everyone was late – even Fr. Joseph arrived at 9hrs to say the children's 8.30 mass. We started late and the 10 am mass didn't finish until 12.30. I left a little early to set up, but needn't have bothered because the internet transmission speed varied between 0.0 kb/s and 0.50 kb/s - viable speeds start at about 10 kb/s UK speeds are 1,000 – 2,000+ kb/s. So for the next 15 minutes we had no connection and I was about to give up. In Cheltenham mass finishes at about 10.45 (11.45 Zambian time) so even with coffee I didn't expect many to be still at St. Gregory's by 12.45!

Then I saw a couple of faces and could here friends from the UK greeting me. I switched my video on and they too could see and speak to us. We had a small group of parishioners who were delighted to talk to people from England. Over a period of nearly two hours the transmission – sometimes only with voice – continued, eventually the parishioners from the 9.30 mass at St. Gregory's left and were eventually replaced by some from the 11.15. Canon Bosco and Fr. Tom came to say hallo after the baptismal party. Eventually the parishioners from Our Lady of the Wayside left for their lunch, but three of the committee members appeared before the end of the session to round it off beautifully.

Ye of little faith! Somehow – despite all the odds we had achieved so much. I couldn't see how we could include parishioners from the 11.15 mass and yet it happened. Because of the busy schedule the priests from Cheltenham were unlikely to be able to join in and yet both took part. In a relationship the difficult bit is breaking the ice on those first meetings – I think the ice melted on Sunday! We can now afford a short break before repeating the exercise.

It was 3pm by the time I arrived home and I was followed in by Jennipher. I had missed lunch so we popped out and bought some bananas, popcorn and roasted peanuts for a snack.

Jennipher had phoned on Friday evening when she was on a bus ready to return to Pemba – there was something she wanted to discuss with me. I was rushing to the chapel so the meeting was delayed to Sunday. A few days before Jennipher had brought a client to the hospital. She was about to give birth. She delivered a baby boy safely and I think she was the one who popped around with Jennipher to see me. There is a short cut to the hospital through the convent making it 2 mins away. Anyway on Friday Jennipher got a message to say the lady had died. On Saturday she was collecting the baby from the hospital. The woman had two older children and the grandmother couldn't manage the baby – she suggested sending it to an orphanage, though there seemed to be some doubt whether one would take the child. Jennipher was not sure what to do. She would bring the child up herself – as she has for Emmanuel and Maggie recently, and Selina and Sandra in years past, but feeding for the first 3 months would be a problem. The choice seems to be cows milk or dried milk – both of which are expensive. I suspect that Jennipher will find a way to increase her family once more.

I dropped the laptop of with a relative of Mrs. Sianga, said hallo to Diven, had a cold shower and Luke arrived for a chat. Another day was coming to a close, but after supper Fr. Kenan said we needed to play the long overdue return pool match.

Armed with a few bottles of Castle (no Mosi available!) we found the pool table – me obviously being disadvantaged from the start. At 22 hrs and three games (and Castles) a piece we played the deciding game. I had the upper hand until Fr. Kenan snookered me on the black with the cushion. A beautiful swerve shot prevented the obvious foul, but resulted in the inevitable in-off and forfeit of the game. So we stand one-all in matches and we await the final showdown!

Monday morning I arose early for the 6.30 mass only to find the church locked! Oh that was what Fr. Kenan meant when he said he could lie in – of course it is a hoiday!! Having got to bed after 1am after spending a long time checking that indeed Airtel have not come up with the goods, I could have done with a little more time in bed myself.

It is never a good idea to be first in a bus in Zambia! It is a worse idea to pay the fare before any other passengers join you!! so at 8am (and 8.30am) thats the position I found myself in. I was not surprised when my bus left the stop at Tooters after 5 minutes and headed towards Lusaka. Even less surprised when it turned around and headed back to Tooters. It repeated this exercise several times, once or twice someone got on – then thought better of it and got off again – they had the sense not to depart with any cash! I was surprised that by 9.30 we were full and on our way having covered a lot of miles up and down Monze High Street scouting for passengers. I was relatively pleased to get to Lusaka by 12.30. Justina couldn't get away so we agreed to meet on Friday and I decided to see if I could find a bus to take me to Manda Hills shooping centre to sort out my modem. I found a nearly full bus so had no delay in heading out onto the Great East Road. This seems to be a very busy route and one of the few were buses fill very quickly at most times of the day. As I disembarked I was surrounded by a few guys apparently trying to get me to get on a bus. I was off my guard and hands started trying to get into my pockets. I pushed them away and sped off when a man told me I had been robbed. They had managed to lift the usb modem from the side pocket in my backpack. Fortunately for me this man had spotted them and retrieved it for me. He told me to be more careful and went on his way. Unfortunately Lusaka seems to have a good number of pickpockets – and of course 'white' people are obvious targets. They weren't to know how much the modem cost me, but in fact it is valuable because of the data bundles that I haven't got!

As I arrived at the Airtel centre where I bought the device the doors were shut. I was told to return tomorrow as they had just closed for the day. There was little to do but to have a subway sub and return to town to pick up my next bus. This too was nearly full – something very rare for Chisamba buses! - and I was soon on the way to Chisamba. A relatively short wait for the taxi to fill and I arrived in Chisamba before 4pm.

My room was waiting for me. They always try to put me in room 1 because it was the first room I stayed in and expressed my satisfaction. Once when it was not available they apologised that it was booked. It was only after a little time that I realised that they were only talking about that room – I had thought the Guest House was fully booked.

Today I met up with Harrison – the new manager at the Centre and we spent most of the day talking about plans and updating the accounts details. Moses the new Centre Chairman popped along after lunch and we talked a little. It was agreed that I should attend the next committee meeting which is planned for August 13th. This is not highly convenient, but I need to make myself available. Tomorrow I must cut out a cooked meal! Three in a day is too much for me! (especialy when two are nshima & ?)



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