Monday 24th September
Today I decided to list the projects and look at the work I need to do during my stay. I found at least 6 major and a similar number of minor projects, plus half a dozen people that I need to catch up with in detailed discussions.
Any of the projects could produce major tasks, so I doubt if I will be bored!!
I spent most of the afternoon looking at the PIZZ project with Mrs. Sianga. Here again we haven't been able to secure quite the funds we would have liked. It is clear that the project needs some extra money quickly, and then an increase in the regular income in order to meet the basic needs. Despite this the school is making a huge difference to well over 200 children. They hope to have an outing to Lochinvar National Park – so far about 30 of the children's guardians have raised the 20,000 (£2.50) kwacha to pay for the trip.
Yesterday I was taken out to a fishing village by the Kafue river in the depths of Lochinvar National Park. It is within Monze parish, though two hours drive from the parish church across dirt roads. On the way we met some children moving a herd of cattle, perhaps 50 – 100 animals in all. Apparently when they are born the child is given 3 or 4 cattle. By the time the child is adult they have a small herd. Many don't go to school but spend their lives looking after the herds. They use drums to move the cattle and apparently each animal knows the sound of it's owners drum.
Almost half of our time spent driving was within the park. The villagers are only visited by the priest about 3 times a year. The church is made out of grass and mud – as are most of the permanent buildings. All the structures are built on anthills or raised mud foundations because the whole area is flooded during the rainy season. Boats are needed to move between houses, though some are only 3 or 4 metres apart.
There was another village nearby – a couple of kilometres - but these people hadn't yet arrived at the church, so Fr Kenan sent me with the truck to fetch them. I was directed across the flat plain and eventually saw some buildings in the distance closer to the river. These houses were just made out of grass and were temporary dwellings, used during the dry period. When the rains come these people move to a permanent village which we passed on our way. Their grass houses are washed away with the rising water at the start of the rainy season.. While at this village I was treated to some nshima and dried fish. As far as I could see the whole fish was eaten, so I consumed a couple - complete with bones, skin and head!
When I returned with a dozen or so extra worshippers, mass had started, but I was still lead to the front. As always the singing was very powerful, as was the drumming. At the offertory about half of the congregation went out of the church and returned in procession placing their donations directly into Fr. Kenan's hands.
After mass I was directed to join the line with Fr. Kenan, and the others who had come from Monze, to shake the hands of each of the parishioners as they left the church. At Our Lady of the Wayside the priests and altar servers shake the parishioners hands after Sunday mass.
It was about 15 hrs when lunch was served – fish and nshima again – this time fresh bream caught very locally (and you didn't have to eat the bones or head!) after lunch we headed back through the park and meet Fr. Jackson at the gate near where we left him earlier. He was saying mass for the people of Lochinvar village who live just outside the park. He had been told we would pick him up at 14 hrs!
We didn't see a lot of animals in the park but I enjoyed meeting some new people and seeing a very different way of life. A few monkeys scampered across the road and a group of vultures were circling when we made the outward journey. Otherwise the lechwe and zebras could not be clearly made out. There were a few birds but even these were more scarce than usual. Lochinvar is famous for its birds, having very many species including Fish Eagles, Secretary Birds and Malibu Storks – all of which I have seen in the past. There were a few razorbills, crowned lapwing and magpie shrikes (which have spectacular long tails), but often the place is full of a rich variety of brightly coloured birds. Antelopes, zebra, wilder-beast and buffalo are also present in the park as are crocodiles and hippos in the river.
When we reached Monze I was tired but grateful for a wonderful day.