Friday 12th August
As the sun set in the West the moon was rising in the East. This configuration produces the wonderful full moon here in Zambia. After a few hours the moon will be overhead producing a wonderful and mysterious light – easily bright enough to see your way by, with no clouds to dim its beams.
Another week has gone. It was good on Sunday to leave the laptop behind and to be able to enjoy the mass without distraction. A change in the weather meant that this week people sought the shade rather than looking for warmth from the sun. Could I at last abandon my jumper!!
I received no word from Airtel on Monday and my laptop keeps crashing when I try to use the modem! Reconciliation of the records on the Monze projects database has proved more time- consuming than I would have wished and no one was about to sort out a programme or to work on a variety of my tasks.
I had arranged to visit Charles on Monday afternoon – usually we get together soon after I arrive in Monze, but this year Charles has been busy with meetings and workshops and this is our first opportunity to get together. As usual we discussed politics at first and I put forward some of my prejudices! The maize crop failed this year through a combination of a dry spell in the middle of the rainy season, followed by torrential rain and flooding. Very little was left to harvest. The general view is that, across the country, the harvest overall will be good. What seems to be happening is that conditions vary in relatively small areas, so within a few kilometres the outcomes can be very different. As usual I enjoyed our discussions.
I had to leave a little abruptly because I had agreed to meet Justina at 5pm. Justina has produced a couple of training manuals for the prospective pro-life group “LIFE Zambia”. The steering committee is ready to register the group and establish a bank account. The plan is to launch the organisation next year in about April.
The bishop has returned from Italy, after having heart bypass surgery. The priests from around the diocese were meeting him on the Tuesday and some had come on Monday to stay over. Fr. Kenan mentioned the pool table and claimed that I was the guy to beat – so after supper a few priests, a cousin of Fr. Kenan's and myself adjourned to the pool room. By 2 am, after we had enjoyed a few Mosis and had many enjoyable games, we ran out of tokens and had to call it a day (or perhaps a night!)
On Tuesday I rang Airtel and the manager got back to me to say that my data had been loaded on the Friday evening. The problems I have been having since have prevented me taking.
advantage of the system, but I was happy to accept that they had done their part.
Jennipher called around and I told her the good news about getting money for her to buy a cycle ambulance.
Tuesday afternoon I planned to go out with Edward but in the event he was feeling too tired. Trying to access the Internet meant another late and frustrating night.
I spent Wednesday fighting technology again. I was planning to return to Chisamba on Friday, but was informed that the Saturday meeting had been postponed. In many ways this is a relief. I have very little time left and the trip to Chisamba would take up three days – two of them travelling! However, I won't get another opportunity to visit before I leave and it was important to attend the next committee meeting.
Yesterday I thought I had spent more than enough time on the computer and gave Shatis a ring. He said I was welcome to visit, so after lunch I headed up the 'High Street' to Lwengu school. It is an oasis on the edge of the town. I was interested for a few tips in case I manage to visit Lochinvar with Dilys and Amy. Shatis is very interested in nature and enjoys visiting the local Parks. He showed me the best area to head for in Lochinvar and was hoping to find a better map. He was suffering from a slipped disc or would have escorted us to Lochinvar.
After quite a wide ranging discussion Shatis took me to see the developments at the school. First I remarked on how beautiful it looked and he pointed out the trees that were planted by the students. He has a map showing each tree and the name of the student who planted it alongside. I have often thought how wonderful it would be to plant a tree and watch it grow over many years. In Cheltenham my garden is already over populated with trees and has no room for another – though Dilys tells me one has died – so maybe a replacement is called for.
The talk in town has been about the new swimming pool at the school. As with everything else at the school, the swimming pool is well made, of ample proportions and I am sure will become a star attraction. It is sighted in an area that isn't too far from 'The Holy Family' - which is a centre that provides therapy and aids for those with physical disabilities. Shatis is trying to incorporate features into the school buildings to make it accessible for people with disabilities. So the new buildings incorporate ramps etc. and the pool will also have facilities to enable all people to make full use of it.
I might at last have identified the problem and possibly a solution to my modem problems. So feeling a lot better at lunch time I returned home to find the modem was missing! Sometimes I believe the Lord is trying to send me a message. For my entire time in Zambia the modem has been a major headache and cause me endless distress and wasted huge amounts of my time and energy. It has been stolen and now was lost!! I decided I needed to be prepared to let it go – other things are far more important. Once more I needed to have more faith and leave everything in God's hands.
I hadn't been far, since I knew that I had the modem, so I quickly traced my steps. As I entered the office of the Human Resources Manager, he said he was trying to find my phone number because he had found something he was sure was mine! Sometimes you are just meant to be willing to give something up, often the Lord doesn't impose the agreed sacrifice, but in fact provides wonderful gifts instead. In 1995 I had the courage to decide to leave work, with the idea of working with people with disabilities. I had expected to go without any remuneration,but, having take the decision, I eventually left with an excellent package, which has made possible my new life working here in Africa.
This afternoon I finally reconciled my 30,000 records with the hundred or so spreadsheets that form the basis of my database!
Sometimes interesting topics come up at meal times. Fr. Spencer has recently returned from Preston in the UK and, while there, visited a community in the Lake District where they support those suffering from the addictions of alcohol and drugs. He is wondering about setting up some sort of centre in Monze and asked for my thoughts. I don't feel qualified to advise on what might be appropriate in Zambia, but my experience is that the people who give the best advice are generally those who have been there themselves. To some extent it is only by going through an illness or suffering from a disability, that you can really understand what it is like. My own experience of depression has enabled me to be able to strike a rapport with others suffering from the illness. I know a little of what they are going through and it is clear from the discussions, that we have a good level of understanding. Very often one will say something and it strikes a chord because the other knows exactly what she is saying. I am sure that this is also true for those who have an illness of addiction. These are illnesses and have no easy cure – if in fact they can ever be fully cured.
I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of my family, but for now will once again say goodnight.
P.S. I realise that another week has passed. I hope to post an update tomorrow explaining the delay!!