Monday 30th May
I had the morning free so I decided to sit in the garden and do a little thinking. It is easy to rush about keeping busy, but now and then it is good to reflect and do a little planning. In particular I needed to look more strategically at PIZZ School and think about long term issues and plans. I need also to understand better the challenges and how I might be able to help. Sitting in the garden with butterflies dancing around me, grasshoppers crashing and birds calling can provide the right atmosphere for creative thinking! It works for me anyway – and happens to be a very pleasant way to pass a couple of hours!
I chatted to a dozen or so children during the afternoon. Some had changed their proposed occupation since last year – we have for instance a new pilot in the making! He wants to fly to the UK. There are some children that have a great sparkle in their eyes and you can sense that little bit of mischief, together with determination to succeed. Others are quite shy and seem a bit intimidated by this strange white guy asking silly questions. It was good to meet one or two children who last year were very thin and sickly looking, but this year have filled out and are more alert.
After the session, Killian took me back into Freedom Compound to meet a girl who hasn't been attending school regularly since February. He told me that she is very keen to study and was very disappointed that she will need to drop back a year, because she has been sick. She contracted TB and it seems that the strength of the drugs was too much – at one time she was taken into the intensive care unit at the hospital amid concerns that she might not survive. The girl has been on ARVs (anti-retroviral dugs) for AIDS for twelve years. She lives with her mother and three younger siblings – all of whom are HIV+. Her mother sells in the market, but because of her daughter's recent illness hasn't been able to leave her. Mrs. Sianga has provided some mealie meal (maize flour), as has her church – this is what they are currently surviving on. They have nothing to go with the nshima they make – by way of other vegetables or meat.
There are so many people here who live on the edge. In normal times they can just manage to have enough to eat. Any disturbance can put survival in question. There are very few welfare services available.
The family live in a simple two-roomed house which is badly in need of repair.
Mrs. Sianga and Killian would like to establish some small projects for the guardians of the children which could help, particularly in times of desperate need such as in this case.
On the way back Teddy pulled up in his car and offered me a lift home. He came in for a coffee and we chatted for a while.
There was a suggestion of a pool session in the evening, but Fr. Clement must have been busy. I made myself a late night supper of sweet potato with fried eggs and some rape with pounded groundnuts. The pounded groundnuts add an interesting flavour especially when they added to the boiled rape and the combination braised with a little oil. I am finding that I am generally inspired to concoct something a little more interesting than my initial thoughts. I am enjoying cooking and, even more, eating my food!
Tuesday 31st May
I had agreed to meet Diven in the morning, but couldn't reach him on the phone - so I took to the garden and read about time and how valuable it is!! The writer I think is a little too intense! He is a Christian involved in missionary work, but I believe that often it is in being, rather than doing that
we often meet God. As if to justify my thoughts, a beautiful butterfly danced around me and as I hoped, but didn't expect, it settled on the ground, opened its wings and posed for a few photos. The butterfly is one of God's most beautiful and wonderful creatures. It is a creature that is transformed from a crawling insect into one with the freedom even to fly to other countries in migration and many are very colourful and beautifully marked – as was this one.
Eventually I walked to Diven's house where he was charging his phone! The guy who did most of his building work – a distant relative of his wife – had been ill at Monze Hospital and yesterday he died. Diven had been asked to contribute to the funeral expenses and agreed to provide a bag of mealie meal.
I had agreed to meet Obert at 14hrs and had to hurry back home. Every day people ask me for money. Today a young man asked for 2 kwacha (about 15p) because he was hungry. I find it very difficult to say no. If I say yes, more will come and probably before long I would have a queue at my door here at Homecraft. I am sure it is true these people are quite literally hungry. Unfortunately I cannot feed them all. I do what I can to support my friends and their families and others that are connected, but my resources are limited. Unfortunately we live in a world where the rich everywhere are getting richer at the expense of the poorest. It is just that here poverty can be a case of life or death. It is not easy coming face to face with this reality and having to say no.
It was good to catch up with Obert. His dream is still to have his own car. At the moment, if he gets a call from someone wanting a taxi, he borrows a car and gives the owner the fare. It is difficult making a decent living without your own car. Anyway it is good that Obert still gets some work. He told me that it was in grade 5 that he decided he wanted to drive a car. He was told that, with an artificial leg, it would be impossible and to forget it. It is therefore with justifiable pride that Obert drives his taxis.