Sunday, April 24, 2016

Monze 2016

24th April 2016
With Selina, Obadia and Jennipher

In just over two weeks I will again be in Zambia catching up with friends.

It was pointed out to me recently that I tend to talk about my friends as if everyone knows their history. This year I will try to give brief introductions as I go along.

When I posted my blog in November I was hopeful about the rains – unfortunately there was very little rain until late January and the rain is no longer falling. This will result in a very poor harvest – following several bad years there will be a lot of hunger. Already people are suffering and deaths from the elderly and children are mounting.

Despite these problems I am feeling more enthusiastic about my visit than I did last year. Jennipher is doing reasonably well, despite facing daily challenges of life and death. Jennipher's story is a long one and some of it is documented in a magazine on the HATW (Hands Around the World) website Jenniphers Story . I first met Jennipher in 2004, she was not very well and seemed rather lifeless and unhappy. Since that time I have got to know Jennipher and her children – mainly babies left as orphans for whom Jennipher has become mum. One of her children was born after his mother gave birth in a bicycle ambulance – his mother died before arriving at the clinic, Emmanuel who has now returned from Livingstone where he was being looked after by Sandra – another of Jennipher's children who became a nurse, but unfortunately died last year. Currently Jennipher also lives with her cousin Soloman,and other children Selina, Jennipher and Maggie. She also helps to support a couple of children who return from boarding school during the holidays and an elderly man who spends most of the day at her house and is provided with meals.

Jennipher was one of the first people in Zambia to disclose her status as HIV+ and is a wonderful advocate for others with the disease. She has encouraged numerous people to get tested and to take the anti-retroviral drugs that enable them to lead a relatively normal life. She has set up 60 or more AIDS support groups and has become an expert not only in understanding the disease and the treatment, but also in accessing support in terms of food and other facilities. Among other things this has allowed her to feed hundreds of people when food is scarce and expensive and to provide a fresh water supply to a whole community.

Jennipher trying out the bicycle ambulance in 2011
I am busy beginning to get a few things for my trip – I picked up a solar powered mobile phone charger and table lamp during the week and my accommodation seems to have been sorted. During the week Jim Oliver, a friend of people in Zambia, sadly lost his fight against illness and passed away. Jim and his wife provided a bicycle ambulance for Jennipher – this has undoubtedly saved many lives. He also obtained a mobile phone charger which has enabled her to feed her family and support other projects – recently her daughter Selina went on a school visit to Victoria Falls thanks to money from charging phones. May Jim rest in peace.

Earlier today Davidson rang to say hallo. News about Jim's death had already reached him.

 Davidson in Floods in 2010

Davidson has been involved with Kaliyangile – a Hands Around the World project in Chisamba, which I co-ordinate – about 50 miles north of Lusaka. He has grown vegetables and maize, reared thousands of chickens for their meat or eggs (I can't imagine how many eggs he has collected over the years – often well in excess of 200 a day!). He has looked after the cattle and pigs and even the bees! At the end of last year he decided to leave the project and work for himself, but it is good to continue to keep in touch. I am looking forward to meeting him again this year – no doubt we will share a pint or two and renew our rivalry on the pool table.

It would be possible to continue with updates for a long time, but I will close here and continue in the days to come.

I will finish by asking for your prayers for my coming trip. It will be difficult and I will need all the help I can get.

Best wishes,