Saturday, August 6, 2011

Life at Chisamba

Thursday 4th August

Yesterday was again cool, with lots of wind and clouds that at times obscured the sun. The wind makes the wind pump blades spin and, though much water is leaking, the tanks are full and even the water in the large reservoir is near the top. The wind-pump pumps the water from a borehole and currently provides all the water for the site. Water comes from high level tanks to the houses, toilets and a number of taps around the site. Water overflows from the tanks into a reservoir which can provide additional water to the gardens and eventually it will be used to top up the ponds during the dry season.

I had a bit of work to do in respect of the diocesan projects database, so I settled myself down to that task in the classroom, while Harrison got on with other work. Trying to make sure my 13,000 records match the spreadsheets from which they were derived can be tricky – when initially they don't! I still have some minor discrepancies.

Some of the students who completed their course last year are busy making garments when the new students are not around. They seem to be specialising in different products. One makes shirts and skirts, another a suit, and another bedsheets and pillow cases. They are all hoping to be able to set up little businesses of their own, in time. For now they are able to use the machines at the centre and earn a little money to help the family finances.

In the afternoon I went through the accounts system again with Harrison. He has now had a bit of experience entering all the details from the receipts. The system enables the manager to control and understand the finances better. It also allows me to comprehend the reality of running the centre from an accounting perspective. This has helped me to see that the centre has an ongoing problem where expenses exceed the regular income. It is as a result of the system that I understand some of the difficulties and can make a strong case for additional short term funding, until some good income generating activities can fill the gap.

I attempted in vain to connect to the Internet with Airtel and 10,000 kwacha in airtime. In fact that is not quite true - I connected, but didn't manage to send or open any mails. I decided that when I go to Lusaka on Friday it is a refund that I want, not Gigabytes of unusable data bundles!

It was a full breakfast this morning with eggs, chips, bread onions and tomato. I missed my chips yesterday and almost asked whether there was a chance of some before I returned to Monze. Seeing that breakfast was almost complete I didn't say anything – but got my wish anyway! At home I am content with some cornflakes – as at the priest's house. But once you are spoilt with something different there is a sudden craving when you return to the 'scene of the crime'! I remember my days working for Eagle Star . If I was working away I would stay in a hotel and take great delight in a full English breakfast or scrambled eggs with bacon and sausages!

I worked with Harrison on the accounts system in the morning – tidying it up and making a few minor changes.

In many ways Chisamba is a rest. I don't have the very numerous little projects going on, or the frequent visits by friends that I have in Monze. I get a chance to relax a little and I am about to finish my P.G. James crime thriller. I might pop into the bar after supper to catch up on the local gossip if I have the stamina!

At lunch time I returned to the Guest House, but was satisfied with some more eggs and some bananas bought at a stall on the roadside. I decided to give the Internet another attempt and to my astonishment had some success, sending a few e-mails, posting my blog and picking up a Facebook message from Amy. I asked whether she would be willing to take part in a web-link with some students if I could set it up. “Yeah sounds good” was the reply, so I better see what I can arrange next week.

The afternoon was again mainly spent with the centre manager thinking about an agenda for the coming committee meeting. The important thing for me is to gradually build up the relationship with Harrison, so that we are comfortable working together on the project. These few days have been useful in starting to build an understanding and trust between us. For the next year we will rely mainly on e-mail contact to develop the partnership – never as easy as with face to face contact.

Harrison lent me a guide book with a number of guest houses and lodges around Livingstone listed. I want to find somewhere nice for Dilys and Amy – I suspect the costs will be high. Ideally I would like something close to the river and the wildlife, but I suspect these will be enormously expensive and run by people from outside the country – so profits will not help the people here in Zambia. We shall see what we find. I need to start planning in detail for their visit, since their time here will be very short.

You never know this might be posted before to long!

Best Wishes


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