Wednesday 15th July
Yesterday I had arranged to meet Obert and his mother and visit the pre-school she has organised.
We met at Our Lady of the Wayside church and walked to his house just beyond Comfort Lodge – perhaps a kilometre from the church. We met his mother on the way who had to meet a couple at the church, but she assured us that she would soon be returning.
We sat outside the house and talked about the pre-school and other topics. Last year a baby was born to a friend of Obert, but unfortunately the mother died a few days after the birth from some complications. The child was taken in by another friend and I was told she is now a healthy naughty little girl!! They were able to build a small structure at the back of their property with some money that was initially going to be used to extend the house. This structure has two rooms – one is used as the pre-school and the other Obert uses as a bedroom.
The pre-school has gone through a difficult patch. The teacher left to get additional qualifications and one of the children died suddenly. Obert told me that the child who died had three close friends who don't understand why he is no longer coming to school. They call at his house and when they are told he can't go with them, they say they will wait. Two of them have not been to school since. A new teacher has just started and I was introduced to her.
I just made it home in time to go out again to meet some more children with Mrs. Sianga. Unfortunately her aunt is very sick, so she was preparing to go and visit. Killian was with me when Stephen arrived. Stephen had been at PIZZ School, but after grade 7 he moved to another school. His circumstances took a turn for the worst and his grandmother could not afford the school fees. Mrs. Sianga decided to cover his fees for grade 9 rather than disturb his education again. Stephen told me how difficult it was. His father is sick and his grandmother is also unwell – she tries to care for him but hasn't any work – she says she relies on well-wishers to keep them fed. Stephen has been asked for 35 kwacha (£3.50) as a contribution towards computers and art instruments but doesn't know where they will find the money.
No other students arrived so I made my way into town to pick up some money. Once again the bank wasn't dispensing cash and I returned home rather tired after the day's walking.
Raymond called around in the evening and joined us for supper which was a kapenta stir fry with plenty of ginger and rice. It went down well and then the lights in the main room flickered and went off one after the other. Next door the lights were still on, so we thought our trip switches had been activated. Raymond quickly returned to tell us the transformer was on fire!! True enough flames were pouring out of the equipment about 100 metres from our house – needless to say the neighbours lights were also now extinguished!
The evening ended with candlelight and plans to get a brazier and charcoal in case we had to live without electricity for some time.
This morning the children put on a ceremony to welcome me to their school. It is a great privilege to be the guest of honour at such a function. It is also rather nice that some of the children are now confident enough to greet me in the street “hallo Chris” or to grab me by the hands and lead me into the school. Today one young lad gave me a hug and a girl came to tell me how glad she was that I was around again. I am more at home with this friendly approach, than when I am sitting in front of the 350+ students.
The children performed a variety of songs, poems, dances and sketches. They performed well, with a lot of humour. It was also good to see the interaction with the teachers, who, although keen to instil discipline would happily except witty comments from the students in response to their remarks – and introduced themselves with a lot of good humour.
I enjoyed the event which was also quite moving and poignant at times.
Killian accompanied me to my house, but left me at the gate - I invited him to call around for coffee another time.
Best popped around after lunch. He told me he was thinking of running as a councillor unless he got a job as a magistrate, in which case he wasn't allowed to be part of a political party. I introduced him to guacamole and he said he would try to make some himself.
I had a lose arrangement to meet Mr. Meheritona, but couldn't reach him on the phone. I wanted to try the ATM again so I went into town. I collected some money but was told that Mr. Meritona was out of town.
Ireen just had to sew on the buttons of my shirt – which would take her ½ hour! I was wondering how to pass the time when I bumped into Jennipher. We went to Food Royal – a new experience for both of us. A Food Royal there was equipment for making kebabs, but we contented ourselves with some drinks and cakes. The cakes were enormous! I went for a long doughnut which was a little smaller than most! Jennipher was able to enjoy her cake and still bring back a hefty slice of it for Selina.
We returned to Ireen who just had to put the buttons on my shirt!! She gave us each seats and about 20 mins later the shirt was ready! She has made a very good job and I think it is perhaps my favourite do far.
I returned as the sun was setting. I grabbed a quick shower before darkness fell and then Deana arrived with the news that a brazier and charcoal were on their way. Andrew and Mike brought our new “cooker” and, after they lit it, Deana cooked some sweet potatoes and scrambled eggs – then the power returned!!
I must congratulate Zesco who had replaced the transformer and burnt out wiring and reconnected the houses in about 24 hours. Incidently one of the guys working for Zesco knew me – apparently in connection with Monze Diocese. I wasn't able to place him myself.
So the evening finishes with electricity and a fully recharged laptop! The water has gone again, but you can't expect everything!!