Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Beginning of Lent

Ash Wednesday 13th February 2013

On Sunday Moses sent me a text to say that a second bull calf has been born. Although he would have preferred heifers, at Kaliyangile the cows will soon be producing milk for the students and for sale and eventually there will be a couple of oxen to help with the work on the farm.

Sadly about a month ago the man Jennipher had been looking after (Mike's son) died from his injuries. Again this makes me realise just how different life is in Zambia. In the UK these injuries would not be considered as life threatening. His relatives wanted the body to be returned to their village not far from Pemba rather than for him to be buried in Lusaka, as was the case with Mike. So this was arranged.

Jennipher has had a difficult time over the past years, she told me that she needed a break – perhaps a trip to Livingstone to stay with her relatives. A few days later she rang me from Livingstone!! However, it appears that the relative she had gone to see was in South Africa so the initial objective of her mission was unsuccessful. She rang from immigration where she was trying to get a passport and organise a visa for the UK!! She now has a passport, but I persuaded her that applying for a visa needed a bit more thought. She told me that she was staying at the lodge where we stayed with Dilys andAmy in 2011. They had provided a 'side room' for which she was not being charged – further evidence of the resourcefulness of my friend.

Diven rang a few days ago. He says that his little business is working well. He now has a house full of Boom! This he buys in boxes of 12 or 20 packets and sells individually. His aim is to make 30,000 kwacha a day (about £3.75) – in practice I suspect he averages less than half of this, but he is happy.

The students at PIZZ school did well in their exams. Twelve students passed their grade 9 exams which means they will be accepted at Secondary School – unfortunately due to the costs few will be able to take up this opportunity, unless additional funds can be found.

The rains have been very heavy this year causing flooding. This is true for some of the parishioners of Our Lady of the Wayside church, since Manugu is an area particularly affected. There was a week or so of dry weather but the rain has again started falling. It appears that in Zambia, like many other places around the world, the weather is becoming more extreme. This is something that needs to be addressed urgently and I am about to start a new blog where I want to try to explore how we can address the issue.

As we start the Christian season of Lent as Catholics we are required to fast. The rules allow one full meal and two smaller ones. I reflect that even for some of my Zambian friends this would be quite a feast. It reminds me of the many people for whom to feel hungry is a common experience. I hope that one day the scandal of hunger will be removed.

Best wishes


Happy Christmas

Christmas Blog

Forgive me for taking so long to post this blog. I thought that I should post some blogs during while still in the UK to bring you up to date with happenings in Zambia. As we start Lent and I look out at the snow falling perhaps it is good to look back at Christmas.

I am getting into the Christmas spirit.

In previous years I have found it difficult to deal with Christmas in the UK, after spending time in Zambia. The true message of Christmas seems to have been lost to that promoted by Big Business which tells us we must buy lots of things that few people need or want, and that we should over indulge in food and drink to the extent that it often makes us ill.

Still there is hope!

I enjoy watching some of the films about Christmas that are available on TV. Most are sentimental and often very silly, but they have merit in the message that they give. A Christmas Carol is a favourite of mine and a couple of years back I re-read Dicken's novel to compare it with the modern film adaptations – which gave me the excuse to watch a number of versions.

The message is simple, it is the message of all the major world religions. That we should not be selfish, that we should reach out to the rest of humankind – especially the most vulnerable. In doing so, not only will their lives be enriched but so will ours.

Since I returned from Zambia a week doesn't go by without me talking to friends back there. In fact I often speak to several friends within a day. Jennipher continues to be in touch. She has had a difficult year with Mike taking ill and subsequently dying. Mike's brother has been in hospital since he was knocked down by a car a few days after the funeral. Jennipher has spent a lot of time helping to look after him at Monze and at Lusaka.

Many friends contact me and wish me a Happy Christmas. How can I go to the supermarket and buy vast amounts of food and drink with a clear conscience?

Christmas is a time for feasting – not fasting. This year the knowledge that some of my friends in Zambia are also able to enjoy a Christmas feast enables me to relish mine. It was good to be able to pre-empt their requests and to give some a little more than they would have dared ask for!
Happy Christmas