Jennipher setting off with my case
Since my last post I have been to Chisamba and back. So the events of Monday and Tuesday are a bit sketchy.
Luke came around and we started talking about Jennipher and within a short time she too appeared. Luke had been saying that it was a long time since they had met. Luke has always been supportive of Jennipher even when she was not popular at the hospital. It was good for the two to get together again. It sometimes seems strange that I can bring people in Monze together, but sometimes that is the case. It reminds me of a time some years ago when my cousin visited from Australia. She asked how often I met with my brother and sisters. To my shame we hadn't met together for a year or two. She insisted that we all got together and now at least we try to met at least once a year.
I had been given a few things for Jennipher and her family from a friend. I also had some babies hats, a few knitted blankets, a solar/wind-up radio, a football, some Sudocrem, a solar security light and probably a few other items – she decided she might just as well take my (almost full) case, empty it and bring it back on Tuesday.
I arranged to meet Mrs. Sianga to catch up on some issues and to visit the new building. The problem with water is very severe. The school was allowed to re-open on Monday, but the health inspectors were keen that special precautions are taken to prevent the cholera outbreak from spreading. Without adequate water this is very difficult. Some drums of water are being fetched from Lushomo School at the moment, but this is unsatisfactory other than as an emergency measure. We talked about the options and it seems that the only quick solution will be to buy a bigger generator to pump water from PIZZ School's borehole.
We talked a bit about David's visit and I suggested that going out with the care-givers would be useful. I would also like to have that opportunity myself. It would also be good to visit some more rural areas to see the impact of the lack of rains in recent years. Mrs. Sianga said that there are now few village chickens and goats because people are coming at night and stealing them. People are protecting their chickens by sleeping with them. How different it is from the lives many of us lead.
We arrived at the new plot where the building is largely complete – in that the walls are built and the roof is up. There is a veranda to allow passage between classrooms in the dry during the rainy season. The builders were plastering but there is more to do, windows need glazing and there is a lot of finishing work to do. Again water has been a problem – especially since the second generator broke a week or so back. The belief is that the generators used have not been powerful enough for the pump.
The new classroom block
We visited the adjacent site where the older children study. Education inspectors were around assessing the facilities. For several years the school has tried to get registered to be an examination centre. The major issue seems to be a strong room. This was built a couple of years ago according to what was requested, but since then stronger locks, additional safe boxes, different metal gates etc. have been required. Despite doing everything asked, each visit brings further requirements – this was no different. They are also required to build a strong room at the other site at significant cost, despite only ever needing one for the school. I suspect that government schools do not have quite the restrictions placed on PIZZ.
I needed to talk to David and decide how we could resolve the current issues at PIZZ. Wey agreed a way forward. Fortunately I can use Skype to make calls to landlines in the UK very cheaply, allowing easy communications. (however as mentioned later there is also internet c onnection to be considered!)
Having written a few reports and had supper with Diven – during which Teddy came around – it was time for an early night.
1st School children
I was up by 5.30. Chisamba is a trip of about 150 miles, but a major factor in relation to the overall time is the wait before the transport is ready to leave. Using local transport the journey takes about 7 hours on an average sort of day, but can take longer!
It is not difficult to find a Rosa bus. Rosa's are the medium sized buses which take about 30 passengers. They are usually driven by competent drivers and have reasonably fixed seating arrangements! The small minibuses can take 20+ and are a bit more risky!!
Every time I think I understand something about life in Zambia I am surprised. Wednesday was no exception. As the Rosa passed I had to decide whether to jump in or to try to find a bus that would start earlier. There were half a dozen seats occupied by lads I expected were friends of the driver!! It is never good to drive around with an empty bus! Still I decided to jump aboard at just after 6 am. We drove around the town and after about a half hour we had perhaps one additional genuine passenger. At this point one considers jumping off – having not yet paid any fare – and looking elsewhere. However, I couldn't see any evidence that other buses were doing any better, so I stayed on board. We toured the town a few more times and possibly got 2 or 3 more passengers by 7am. To my surprise the bus headed out of town towards Lusaka. Now if there is one rule that never gets broken, it is that buses are full before they travel. Certainly an empty bus never leaves Monze. I was therefore not surprised when the bus stopped as it reached the edge of town. All the lads got off leaving about 4 of us who might be paying passengers. I asked one of the passengers what was happening and he said we would now be going. With that he jumped off the bus himself and hopped into an awaiting car. Eventually the driver and conductor got back onboard, leaving their remaining friends by the side of the road and the empty bus was on its way to Lusaka!!
The bus made good progress, filling up en-route. The driver didn't believe in queuing in traffic and took a dirt road at Chilanga on the outskirts of Lusaka to avoid the evil set of road humps and consequent queues. He also had a knack of finding the best lanes as we approached Lusaka, though he was fairly assertive when changing lanes!
The Rosa's drop off on the Monze side of town. We are still on the Great North Road now known as the Kafue Road. The Lumumba Road at a right angle takes me straight to Lumumba bus station were I pick up my next bus – this is about a 20 minute walk. This bus is a little Toyota Hiace minibus (the more risky one!!) we again pick up the Great North Road. It is quite a road good and I resent paying twice the price for a Rosa – hence I risk the little minibus. My wait was minimal so by about 11hrs I was once more on the road.
I am dropped off at the Chisamba crossroads. Here I leave the Great North Road and take the road to Chisamba Town – about 23 Km from the crossroads. I have walked before, but not today! I jumped into an awaiting taxi, which, when two of us joined the three passengers already in the car, set off immediately. (A taxi ride is generally a very cosy affair!!)
Getting out of the car I spotted Patrick. Patrick has been involved with the Kaliyangile project since its inception. His family has loaned the land to the project for a nominal rent. Patrick's father died just a few weeks ago. We exchanged a few brief words and agreed to meet up to talk some more before I left.
The site for the project is close to town – less than a kilometre from the centre – but that short distance makes it feel quite rural and quiet. The wind pump on the site can clearly be seen from the main street in Chisamba.
I passed Albert a few metres down the road. Albert is someone who has become involved in recent years as a committee member at Kaliyangile. Again we exchanged a few brief words.
I missed the short cut through small tracks and on doubling back saw Persis, the project manager, waiting for me. The purpose of my visit was to see the state of the project and discuss issues and plans, I also wanted to check on preparations for David's visit.
The rest of the afternoon was taken up talking to Persis about the project and walking around the site to see how the activities were working on the ground.
Kaliyangile has about 10 Hectares of land. Over the years the site has installed a number of buildings for training, a couple of barns for chickens, a piggery, various storerooms and some accommodation. It also has a fairly sophisticated water distribution system. There were four piglets and three new calves since I visited last year.
I was shown my accommodation – somewhere I am now well familiar with. This year the cows would be milked directly outside my house! A former storeroom with a mattress on the floor provides ample accommodation for a couple of nights. Toilets are only a 100 metres away!
I arrangement to eat with Davidson. Persis accompanied me to the town centre so I invited her to join us. Although Davidson no longer works at Kaliyangile the relations are still good and they were pleased to catch up over fish and nshima.
After the meal Davidson persuaded me to join him for a game of pool - not that I took much persuasion! The way the system works the winner usually stays at the table. In the event we both had a game, but we didn't play each other. Davidson had to get to a new job as a security guard by 20 hrs so after showing the way to the centre he left.
The moon is currently quite full and provides plenty of light with which to see, so there was no problem finding my way at night. I always delight in the powerful moon and particularly its shadow here in Zambia.
I spent most of the day reflecting on what I had seen and heard. I took a trip to meet the bees wearing gumboots to protect me either from the bees or the snakes – or perhaps both!!
My house at night
I discussed some thoughts with Persis during the afternoon and also took the chance to meet Patrick and talk to him about the project.
I have had little time this year to observe the birds and other creatures about, but Kaliyangile makes me more aware of the environment. The local mosque swallows are here. A few lizards run up and down the walls. I have a resident spider that seems to live behind my bathroom mirror home in Monze. I thought he was dead at first, but he had changed position one day – so probably not!! There is a cat who seems to live in my garden and thinks I will one day start feeding him if he rubs up against my feet and tries to make himself lovable! I will make time to touch base with nature soon.
I arranged to have an early supper with Davidson and perhaps have a better chance to talk – the bar has loud music which isn't conducive to discussion. I assumed that Davidson had an early shift. It seemed however when we met that he thought we might get on the pool table more easily at this time!! This time after I beat my opponent – in fact he was well ahead but beat himself by going in off the black when he potted it – don't worry if you are not familiar with the rules of pool. Basically he made a foul shot which resulted in him forfeiting the game. The outcome was that I played Davidson. I was about to win when Davidson pulled out a series of spectacular shots to beat me – Davidson currently holds the title of champion!! We returned for another couple of games after the meal,
I had to get back in order to do some work on the computer. The MTN network was not good and it wasn't until 22.30 that I managed to e-mail my report.
Friday 20th May
I was not looking forward to the trip back to Monze. After some further discussion with Persis I was ready to depart when a face from the past arrived.
Godfrey was involved with the project for many years. For some time he was the committee chairman. For the past few years he has not been involved, though very occasionally I have received e-mails from him. He contacted me to say that Patrick's father had died. He also mentioned that he intended getting involved again in the project. We talked for almost two hours about the project and his thoughts.
It was about 12 hrs when I found my way to the taxi, ready to hit the road. There is rarely any delay getting a bus from the crossroads and this was the case on Friday. As we approached Lusaka – perhaps 5Km from the centre we were told to disembark and were led to another bus which took us into the centre. It is not an unusual occurrence to finish a journey on a different bus to that which I started! The buses into Lusaka may drop at almost any bus station. Maybe someone understands which go where, I haven't a clue! However, it is never more than a half hour walk to the Kafue road stop, where I get the Rosa back to Monze. In this instance it was no more than ten minutes away – though we all disembarked before the bus found the bus station, because of the traffic jam.
Eventually I arrived in Monze at 7.30 pm – a fairly average 7 ½ after leaving Chisamba.
I have had a distinct lack of tea since leaving Monze on Wednesday morning. In fact NONE!!! I made up for it on Friday evening. I picked up a sausage and chips takeaway from Tooters and finished my day with a hot shower and all was well with the world.
Today was a restful day. Power didn't arrive until 2 pm. I popped out to the shops and bought an electric kettle and a flask. The kettle works – we shall see how effective the flask proves to be.
I met Luke in town and we returned to Homecraft together.
We spent some time discussing politics here and in the UK and found a lot of similarities. In particular the apparent lack of concern for the most vulnerable and a tendency for politicians to look after their own personal interests, often at the expense of the ordinary citizens. It is sad that the world over the gap between the poorest and the wealthiest is still growing.
Luke is from a large family which lost both parents when the children were young. Luke managed to complete his education and since then has taken on responsibility for supporting as many of his siblings and their children as possible. It is very difficult particularly because schools here charge fees for attendance and more for exams. There are many who don't get a chance to get a secondary education. Luke's small income has to go a long way.
spot the beetle!
On the way to the shops I met Maxwell. Maxwell was a student at PIZZ School who was supported through secondary school by Hands Around the World. He did well with his final exams and is keen to progress to university, or teacher training college. He is currently applying to these institutions. I would like to be able to support all the children to reach their full potential but we need to raise the necessary funds. We have funds established for both secondary and tertiary education where donors can contribute. Whether we have sufficient to fund Maxwell at the moment I doubt.
Fr. Clement popped in around supper time. We talked about various topics including the introduction of an oil press at Our Lady of the Wayside church. A generous parishioner at St. Gregory's has donated the money needed for this equipment. We are currently waiting for the transferred money to reach the church account in Monze. There are some cables to be moved by the electricity supplier, before the press can be installed in the appropriate position, but it is hoped that the site will be ready by the end of the week. I hope to see it working before I leave in July.
I have now been here for about ten days and have met a good number of friends. Many people call me over to say hallo and I confess I am not sure to whom I am speaking. Others I am delighted to see once again. Two ladies who greeted me with big hugs this year were Ireen and Sebia. I don't think I introduced Ireen – my tailor. In 2004 I was staying with a volunteer (Emily). She and an American visitor decided to have a shirt made for me. Since then Ireen has made a shirt for me every year. I usually choose the material or several pieces from which she chooses the best. Ireen has three children who she tries to support through school by her work as a tailor and a few other small enterprises – buying and selling small quantities of commodities. I need to pick up some material for this year's shirt!
I have known Sebia for many years. I first met her on the road (Yes the Great North Road again!). This time I was heading to Pemba for the first time to visit Jennipher. Pemba is about 35Km along the road in the direction of Livingstone. Sebia was also going in the same direction and guided me. We met subsequently at the hospital where she works in the small cafe. I always get a very warm welcome from Sebia. We will no doubt meet again when I call around to the hospital.
Another person I met today in one of the shops asked about Jennipher and told me that Lillian who I know from the hospital has been off sick for the past couple of months.
It is good to feel a part of this community. I get to know about so much through friends and acquaintances here in a very short time. There are so many connections. In Cheltenham I can wander around town for days without anyone even saying hallo!
Well you too are up to date. Somehow my 2GB month's supply of internet access has been used already!! I will need to buy more before this can be posted.
Apologies for the photo labels, but they seem to move on publication! I'll try to sort something next time!!
A proud mum!