Wednesday 17th October
It seems an age since I was in Chisamba!
The past two days I have spent back at school. I started yesterday in grade 1 and reached grade 9 today. I thought that it would be good to spend some time with the students in their classes. And I enjoyed the experience – in grade 2 they were talking about birthdays when I joined them. I mentioned that it was my daughter's birthday so the teacher designed a simple card on the blackboard and all the children copied the card “Happy Birthday Barby, we love you” into their exercise books. They also sang Happy Birthday Barbara, which I videoed and played to my daughter and granddaughter over Skype later in the evening. Teaching is a difficult task anywhere, with very few books and other teaching materials and children who have to learn their subjects in a foreign language – the teaching is in English – the task is made much more difficult. I admired the teachers determination and was impressed by the way they praised and encouraged the children – especially the younger ones.
It was probably a bit intimidating for the teachers to have me sitting in their classes, but at least some were able to put me on the spot and tell me about their difficulties, in a meeting today after the classes. Finding funds to pay salaries is very difficult and the amount that can be afforded is hardly enough to live on, but they are keen to help the disadvantaged children, so they continue to teach despite the hardships.
On Saturday I met the committee at Kaliyangile which proved very positive. My brain switched off again in Lusaka and I made the mistake of parting with cash for a coach which I was assured was just about to leave. I had caught a Rosa bus from the “Chisamba turn-off” which was heading for the Inter-City bus station. Since time was moving on, and I didn't relish wandering through Lusaka, I decided to catch a Big Bus – these were very well described by someone telling me a story about a man who was saving the few kwachas he earned for a big bus. If you put your arms straight out in front of you and then flick the palms downwards, you will know what a big bus is!! - I digress! There are many big buses at Inter-City - a few of which go to Monze. Unlike other buses they usually stick to a timetable. I arrived just before 16 hrs and one was leaving at 17hrs or 17.30. Instead of deciding to wait – or look to find one leaving sooner, I agreed to go on the one leaving now! At a little after 18hrs we moved off and when we left Lusaka it was after 18.30, so we didn't arrive in Monze till 21.15.
On Sunday the bishop was confirming 120 candidates! So there was a single mass for the parish and all connected churches. The service started at 9 hrs and concluded at 12.30. It was lively with plenty of singing and dancing. As well as the usual gifts offered there were a couple of goats and a few chickens and other bird – live of course.
Sometimes the needs here can feel overwhelming. Last week one of Jennipher's clients who was doing well and looking after his family was involved in a freak accident and was killed. He leaves a wife and five children. She has no idea how she will be able to provide for them.
On Monday just after Jennipher told me this story, the lady who has been cleaning the rooms where I stay wanted to speak to me. Using Jennipher as an interpreter, she told me that her husband has been bedridden for four or five years. She is just doing the cleaning while someone is away. She also has five children and doesn't want to leave her husband. She has a little land but no money to buy fertiliser and maize seed for the coming growing season – the money she earned won't cover this cost. (About £65 will provide the family with a crop that would last most of next year). I cannot find any more money this year – I hope I have enough for getting to the airport next week!! Such requests I receive daily and is very difficult to refuse. Sometimes – like on this occasion – I say that I will tell people about their needs on my blog, and just maybe someone will be willing to help.