Saturday, May 10, 2014

Community Schools

Saturday 10th May

I enjoy seeing swallows! I saw one swoop around the house this morning and my spirits rose.

Many years ago when I was a student I spent a lot of time watching the birds swoop around the halls of residence. I was quite ignorant when it came to birds and decided I needed to be able to identify them. I found that an 'I-Spy' book was adequate to enable me to know that the swallows, house martins and swifts were the birds that first caught my imagination. Often these birds seem to appear for me at the right momentas if carriers of God's joy to us here on earth.

On Thursday afternoon I had agreed to meet Precious who agreed to accompany me to Lushomo school. We met at the crossroads and she had two of her brothers with her - Andrew and Mike. Andrew is an artist and I carried some materials from the UK with me - these were donated to help him in his work. He had produced four pastel drawings for me - one of them was of a giraffe. When I asked him if he had seen a giraffe in the flesh he replied “no, only a picture”. I felt guillty that I, a visitor, had seen sights that most local Zambians will never see.

Lushomo school is now on the edge of the developed part of Monze (I suspect it will soon be surrounded by houses). A piece of land was given to the community for the school and a few simple structures were erected – one has since collapsed. There are two classrooms which are not good buildings. The roofs leak and sometimes in the rainy season the children have to be sent home. The floor is mud with a few blocks. They have been given a couple of desks but with 400 students these don't go far and most children sit on the floor. The teachers are volunteers and take several classes throughout the day, during which the children from grade 1 to grade 7 are taught. Despite the problems the results compare favourably with the government schools.

Those running the school are concerned that people are encroaching on the land, putting up houses. With the school buildings in such a state the feeling is that more land might be lost. If they could do some work to renovate the buildings it is thought that this would be less likely.

It is always difficult to visit such projects and tell the people that I cannot provide any help. The best I can do is let you know in this blog where there are needs and if anyone would like to help I can channel it to the right place.

On the way back Precious took me to another small school Shalom Academy. This was set up by a widow in her living room and her daughter – now also a widow - helps her run it. They have 30 young students who pay a small fee to attend – this helps the women keep it running and buy some food for themselves – though it is only survival.

I have started sitting in the garden to enjoy the early morning and evening sunshine. (There is almost always sunshine!). It is good to feel the warmth of the sun while I delve into yet another crime thriller! The water problem was sorted quite swiftly and it seemed that the tank was overflowing, rather than the water over shooting! It seems that the pump operates overnight and by morning has filled the tank. At 8 hrs it switches off. It seems a waste for all that water to overflow into a pool next door, so I thought that today I would throw some water on the grass and a few plants around the garden – maybe it won't overflow tomorrow!!

Jennipher's tickets arrived by e-mail yesterday and I printed them. I was even able to transfer some money to cover the cost, without leaving the veranda! – such are the wonders of technology these days.

Today I had an important task to perform! I have said that St. Veronica's Small Christian Community should meet at this house tomorrow week. In past years I have provided samosas to my guests, so today I wanted to have a trial samosa making session. I bought some flour. I was checking to see if I could get some more spices to make up for garam masala and coriander leaves which are not to be seen in Monze, when I realised that I needed some 'Irish potatoes'. Almost immediately I spotted some bags near my rasta friend Brian's stall (not a place I expect to find them) so I picked one up. Often these potatoes are in poor condition, but this bag looks good. In Zambia Irish (or English) potatoes are far more expensive than sweet potatoes. (15 kwacha (£1.50) for a small bag of Irish, against 3 kwacha for sweet!). My friend with the spices wasn't around but another women let me taste some. I bought some chicken tikka spice and promised to return with a samosa.

Shopping done I returned to the preparation of the meal. I have found that a bottle of water serves as a rolling pin and managed to produce some passable samosas. I would like a bit more bite and will add a little more piri piri net time – though my guests don't usually like them too hot!

I returned to the market to fulfill my promise and nearly caused a riot by handing out samosas at a market stall, where I had also offered to bring a sample. I might make a larger supply sometime and give them out – though that could prove unwise!! The samosas all met with approval.

Eunice came around to say that she will stay the night in one of the bedrooms. She has to start work at 5 hrs tomorrow and it takes her nearly two hours to walk from her home – she left home this morning at 4.30 to start work at 6 hrs. She seems to work most if not every day starting at 6 and often not finishing before 17hrs. Though since she doesn't spend much time here its possible that she gets away early some days.

Take care,


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