Sunday, March 29, 2015

Jennipher's Portrait at The Garden Gallery

29th March 2015

At this time last year I was in Zambia. On Palm Sunday I was in Monze where I joined in with the procession and services.

Obert and his family attend Our Lady of the Wayside church where I attended the service last year. Obert has an artificial leg, but this hasn't stopped him becoming proficient at riding a bike. Last year he achieved another milestone by passing his driving test. He showed off his new skills by taking me to Pemba (about 35km from Monze) to collect jennipher on my final day.

Obert is currently managing to get a little work driving for a friend, but one day he hopes to have his own taxi. He occasionally rings me to have a chat.

When Jennipher visited us last year, a friend and local artist Sheila Bryant painted her portrait – in fact she created two paintings. One of these paintings will be exhibited at the Garden Gallery in Montpellier Gardens, Cheltenham as part of the Easter at Montpellier Gardens events which take place next week  1st April to 7th April.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Chasing a drream

24th March 2015

You might remember that when I was in Zambia last year, Diven persuaded me to help him to buy a plot and build a house and shop. For Diven his dream is to have a family, a house and a little business to enable him to provide for them. A relatively modest ambition and one that most of us share. In Diven's case it was a dream that he doubted would ever be possible to fulfil.

The last few months have not been completely straightforward – though since I have been involved with many of Diven's adventures over the years it shouldn't surprise me. The house and shop were roofed and the costs kept rising!! By all accounts the building was good, but it would not be appropriate to have such a building without a decent toilet. More construction was started – thousands of bricks and numerous bags were obtained and what seemed to be a super loo started to take shape. This was just before the start of the rains! It seemed that the construction was not good enough and a disaster occurred. The walls collapsed and water flooded into the foundations. There was concern that the house and shop would also be damaged.

Time has moved on and the toilet has been reconstructed, the house and shop are complete and partially plastered. Shelves and a counter have been installed and Diven is now starting to trade.

The other change in Diven's life is that he found a girlfriend and is now married with a child on the way!! Let's hope that all goes well and Diven realises his dream.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Too many coffins

21st March 2015

Maambo was buried today.

Maambo had too short a life. She died after fighting illness for the past few years. I met her sometime ago when she was in need of some support. Jennipher did her best to help her through difficult times and Maambo responded by supporting Jennipher. She enabled Jennipher to visit the UK last year by being the main carer for Jennipher's children. May she rest in peace.

A lot has happened since my last blog. I will summarise the key events here and fill in the details in subsequent posts. Best has returned to Monze from Livingstone, he has rented an office and is offering legal services. Diven is beginning to sell from his new shop along St. Mary's Road in Monze. Solomon has been very unwell and was not expected to live a few weeks back. Luke's younger brother has started teacher training. Obert is getting a little work as a taxi driver using a friend's car.

The PEASSA project effectively stopped operating some months back. The manager of the major site left without notice. Foot and mouth disease prevented the pigs being sold from the other site. Charles (the PEASSA Director) has been away from Monze on various courses for the past year or more and hasn't been able to deal with the issues. Raymond keeps in touch with me and I try to ensure that his clients - which surprisingly seem to be increasing in number - have some food every so often. Charles has been ill and needed an operation in Lusaka a few weeks back - he is currently recovering.

I had an hour long Skype session with Mrs. Sianga on Thursday. The number of children at the school has increased from 215 last year to 380 currently.
Everyday orphaned children come to her office begging to be granted a place at the school. Some no doubt are tempted by the offer of food and a nice uniform, but that doesn't make them less in need of the chance to escape from a life of poverty. Mrs Sianga faces tremendous challenges - new courses have to be taught including computing - with only 3 laptops and no electricity at the senior school this isn't easy, not to mention the need for new sets of textbooks. Registration Fees have increased from 500 kwacha to 8,000! (about £800). I recognise that for us fundraising can be difficult, but if we find it hard, how can we possibly expect the poor people of Monze to raise the money. I am determined not to let Mrs. Sianga down - more importantly I don't want to take away the hope of the 380 children currently at the school and those now in secondary or higher education. I have a lot of work to do and will need lots of help.

Take care,