Saturday, September 22, 2012

Never lonely in Zambia

Saturday 22nd September

There is no chance of me being lonely here in Zambia!

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours with Persis, Kaliyangile's new manager, before starting to return to Monze.

The jacaranda trees in Chisamba are in full bloom with their deep blue blossom producing a magical and almost unreal effect. Inside temperatures are still between 25°C and 30°C but outside I suspect they are higher. A few clouds in the sky predict the coming rainy season – though it is probably a month away here in Southern Zambia.

The 'taxi rank' looked unpromising as I appeared to be the only passenger. I am happy to join with 4 or 5 other passengers to cram in a taxi and travel at local rates so I expected a long delay. I got to thinking that I will save 40,000 kwacha here and 20,000 there to reduce costs - then as soon as I walk in the door in Monze I will part with more than10 times that amount without much thought. I suppose I reckon that the less I spend, the more is available for those far more in need than myself.

Jennipher has just left. While she was with me she was able to see and talk to Dilys via Skype. She has received seed and fertiliser for 20 of her most needy clients from government funds, given through a local NGO. In order to be given these assets she had to say that she would ensure that her clients had enough food. The fear is that given the 'agricultural inputs' the clients would sell them to relieve their hunger. So someone has to fund 20 x 50kg bags of maize!!

I will continue to share taxis and use the coaches very sparingly!!

As I went for a bottle of water, the taxi vanished with my backpack. I had just settled down under the shade of a tree to eat my bananas, when a full taxi appeared. I wasn't sure whether it was the same one that had my bag, but I was encouraged to get in and I think I was told by the driver that my bag was in the boot. The taxi had arrived with one driver and another driver took over, but I am not sure whether I had seen either driver before. Drivers here regularly jump in and out of different vehicles, so life becomes a bit confusing Anyway when I arrived at the 'turn-off' my bag emerged safely from the boot!

In Lusaka I met Best who had just finished at college for the day. His taxi is doing well, it is registered to provide a service to and from the airport for 3 days a week, and this seems to be profitable. He is confident of completing his Law degree and is considering going into politics.

Best found me a Rosa bus (not the small bus I came on – but a bit more reliable and probably safer.) Apparently there were only two places to fill when we arrived a little after 16hrs. By 17.30 we had loaded at least another 6 or 8 passengers plus miscellaneous goods including a solar panel measuring no less than 6 foot by 3 foot. There was some banter when there was no sign from the driver that he wanted to move. At 18hrs the conductor got out of the drivers seat and the driver arrived. A travelling pastor said a prayer for a safe journey and only after he was finished did the bus move off. The driver drove very well and we arrived at Tooters (just outside my house) at about 21 hrs.

As I walked through the door Dilys rang. She has been trying to resolve a problem where her phone will not receive text messages from me while I am in Zambia. (It receives from other phones in Zambia, it receives calls and can send both to me!!)She received a new sim caard from Virgin but they sent the wrong one – it was meant to be for the same number but turned out to be another customer's number. Because Dilys activated it before realising Virgin's mistake, they are refusing to send another sim. The people from the call centre in the Philippines are being as helpful as possible but it seems that they haven't the authority to try to resolve the problem. They can only hand out free minutes and texts messages as compensation (for calls within the UK – not to Zambia!). I doubt if Richard Branson reads my blog – perhaps he would have the necessary authority. Maybe the answer is Orange!!

I was ready for a shower after the long time travelling, but I had to wait more than an hour before the taps produced any water. I have one of the world's most ecologically friendly showers here at the house! The water drips from a few holes in the shower head (more, but not much more, leaks from various hoses and the base of the head – not so ecological, I agree). Only the cold water tap works – in fact I haven't found a hot water tap working in Zambia yet this year! Having said all this I had a wonderful refreshing shower before turning into bed. At this time of year cold water here isn't very cold – even from the borehole. The combination of the air temperature of about 30°C and cool water tricking down makes for a very pleasant experience.

This morning I attended a meeting of a new pro-life group starting in Zambia. Justina spoke to me about her ideas a couple of years back. In the 70s and 80s Dilys and I were very involved in “Life” - a UK pro-life organisation. After discussions Justina decided to establish Zambia Life on similar lines. The name had already been taken so the organisation is registered as “Loving Life Offering Hope” after the motto of Life UK. It will probably be known as “Loving Life”.

Abortion is becoming more common here in Zambia. Whatever people feel about whether it should be allowed, there are very few who believe it to be a good thing. Life concentrates on showing that there are positive alternatives. Unfortunately much of Life's work in theUK is now involved in counselling women who weren't shown the alternatives and need counselling after having the abortion. Abortion is not an easy option and the consequences can be devastating to the women – of course it always destroys the life of the child.

Earlier in the morning I was visited by Catherine – a sister of Mrs. Sianga. She is hoping to re-establish a small business as a tailor, a profession in which she has been trained. Her previous sewing machine no longer works, but with support from Deana (who came out as a Hands Around the World volunteer.) and an NGO working locally she hopes to be better able to look after her young family.

After lunch I had visits from Jennipher and Lilian, then Diven and finally Raymond who has just left at about 21.30. So as I said at the start of this post - “ I am never lonely in Zambia!!”.

Good night and may God bless you,


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