Friday 11th April
Time passes so quickly here in Zambia. It seems that I have just arrived yet already this is the start of my 3rd full day in Monze. There are so many things that we take for granted in the UK. My phone came back to life after another visit to Zamtel (my third on Wednesday). I bought a USB modem and was assured that the MTN SIM would be working within 10 mins – this was on Wednesday afternoon. I returned to the shop on Thursday morning before I was able to use it!
There used to be a grocer's shop Pick-a-lot where the MTN shop now stands. I have known the shopkeeper over many years. Outside this shop was where Ireen used to sit and sew her garments. The new shopkeeper didn't seem to know where either of my friends were now based. I will need to track down Ireen or I won't get a new shirt this year!
I have bumped into a few friends over the past couple of days. Captain seems to be doing OK he is still moulding bricks as he did in 2003 when he was involved with the building of the hospital ICU. Obert's parents told me that Obert can now drive, no doubt he will demonstrate his skills before long – I hope his artificial leg is not too much of a handicap. Jennipher has been around a couple of times and we are working on the next visa application. Diven has been bringing me up to date with his current position and Raymond is still chasing houses for me to rent!
Yesterday it rained most of the day – unusually gentle rain from my experience . I hoped that this might be useful since there has been little rain of late. However I am told that it is too late and has the danger of destroying what crops there are. Dry weather is required to prepare the maize for harvesting and milling. I was told yesterday that, although there was a lot of hunger last year, this year will be worse.
Yesterday I slept until after 7 am. There was a lot of activity around the church and there were a number of guests – local priests – staying overnight. I had heard on Wednesday that practice for the “Chrism Mass” was taking place, but in my experience this service is conducted on Maundy Thursday. I was therefore surprised when I returned from town to find a procession of priests and a bishop entering the cathedral. It appeared that I was just in time, so I sneaked into the back of church. This is an annual service when priests from all over each diocese of the Catholic Church come to their cathedral. They renew their priestly vows and receive the oils blessed for use in the sacraments – for example oil for anointing those sick and dying. I don't think I have attended such a service before, but living here at the cathedral church it seemed inappropriate to miss the celebration. It was good to hear the singing and drumming and watch the dancing once again. Apart from the renewal of vows and blessing of oils, the service followed the same format as the usual Eucharistic service of the mass.
I said hallo to Father Maambo - a priest who used to be in charge of Our Lady of the Wayside church here in Monze and excused myself from lunch with the priests, because I had promised to talk to Jennipher. She found a table in the NAPSA building where we had chicken and chips! (I am not sure what NAPSA stands for either!!)
I visited Mrs Sianga at PIZZ school yesterday afternoon. Mr Sianga spotted me on the road and gave me a lift for the final part of the journey.
The children – now 203 at the school – are provided with a meal each day. This comprises some fortified rice-soy meal designed to be particularly nutritious that Mrs. Sianga obtains from Lusaka. A meal can be provided for a little over £1 a month per child, though additional costs – charcoal and transportation add a bit to the total cost. Hands Around the World has a fund to provide this food and will be having a short text campaign soon to boost it. Mrs. Sianga told me that the children are putting on weight as a result of this small meal each day.
We spoke about various topics including the proposed Holiday Club during August and discussed possible activities.
In the evening I was able to access the internet. The service is good and it should allow me to keep in regular contact.