Once again I have failed to maintain my blog – apologies.
A lot has happened. Hands around the World volunteers have spent 4 weeks in Monze and are on their way back as I write. I have just come back from Pontypool where a container is being packed today and will soon start its journey to Monze.
I produced a photobook of Jennipher's visit and was able to send a copy to her with the volunteers. I will use the book to bring back memories of her visit.
I look at some pictures of Ogmore and Raglan castles. Jennipher told us that when she is back in Zambia she will be able to show the people a real castle. People in Zambia only know castle as a brand of beer!!
One of Jennipher's groups has land close to a small reservoir and they would like to grow vegetables to make themselves more self-sufficient. During her visit Jennipher met members of a small bible group and told them a bit about herself and her work. In return they donated some money. Last week I was able to send this money to Jennipher, because she can buy a treadle pump which should make the dream of a vegetable garden come true for the Hatontola Support Group. Next year I hope to see the pump in action. For me it is a delight to be so close to such small projects and being able to monitor and report of the impact.
I see a photo of Jennipher with Martin Horwood – our local MP – who wrote a very supportive letter which I am sure influenced the decision to grant Jennipher a visa this year. We had the opportunity to meet him and thank him personally for his support.
There were many new experiences for Jennipher during her stay. A train journey – only to Gloucester - but enough to show her the differences between Zambian and UK trains. She was amazed at the air conditioning, but the speed, the cleanliness and general comfort are also a long way from the experience of the Zambian Railway. Of course the London Underground was another thing altogether, but again Jennipher delighted in the experience and put aside any fears.
Nelson Mandela is one of Jennipher's heros and she was delighted to find a large portrait of him in Gloucester and the statue in London literally brought her to tears.
Jennipher is a very caring person and has a particular affinity with the most vulnerable. We visited the Leonard Cheshire Home in Cheltenham where she saw an electric wheelchair for the first time and was surprised that the residents didn't need to buy them themselves. We were given a tour of the home by Paula – one of the residents – and Jennipher was introduced to Loom Bands by another. (Jennipher was subsequently shown how to make bracelets by my 8 year old granddaughter Cheyenne and I hear that now Selina has a little business in Pemba selling Loom bracelets to her friends!) Jennipher was asked to return to the Leonard Cheshire Home one evening to talk to the residents – this worked very well and clearly had an impact.
During a visit to my sister in Milton Keynes we had a meal at a restaurant staffed largely by people with learning difficulties. Jennipher was delighted to see these people living a fulfilled and largely independent life. She was very complimentary about the way people with disabilities are treated in the UK – I hope that it continues to be the case! However, the most amazing thing she saw at Milton Keynes was an elderly friend of Theresa (my sister) catching a good sized bream and then returning it to the canal!! No one in Zambia would throw away good food like that!! She had previously asked Nick at the Leonard Cheshire Home whether he ever ate any of his goldfish!
Since Jennipher left she has been in regular contact. She has also spend some time with the Hands Around the World volunteers, who she first met at our office near Monmouth introducing them to some of her support groups.. Some money she raised has been used to buy maize while the prices are still affordable – this will be stored for the difficult months to come. I am sure it will help but it is unlikely to stop the hunger that some of her clients will suffer.
I will close here, though there is a lot more to say.