We have had a few cloudy days. Everything of course is relative and we probably had more sun than in England on a “bright” sunny day! However it was a joy to awake yesterday to a pure blue cloudless sky. People here are wearing jumpers and coats, while I find it perfectly OK in a tee-shirt when the temperature is hovering around 20°C. I note that in England's summer, temperatures are reaching 17 or 18, here in the Zambian winter we manage 24 or 25 most days!
Interesting insects abound around the house and in the surrounding areas. Some of the grasshoppers/crickets/locusts are quite beautifully coloured. There are a large number of butterflies of varying colour and size. I met Raymond by the railway line a short while back and he asked if I had seen any snakes – apparently they are abundant in that area, mainly cobra. There are a few birds around, the local pied crows do what crows do worldwide and the call is very similar. A house sparrow joined us at mass, flying in the rafters during the service. A couple of noisy bulbils did acrobatics in a tree in the garden and a blue waxbill flew into a tree outside.
Friday 27th May
I had a mammoth session in the morning seeing 19 students who are sponsored under a Hands Around the World scheme called Hand in Hand. I try to meet all the students each year and find out how they are progressing. On Friday I saw mainly grade 2 students and they are often a bit shy and they are not always very confident in English – I am embarrassed that after all these years I can still only greet and say thank you in Chitonga! I was sometimes helped with extra information from Killian about the family background or from their school report.
I heard more moving stories about the children – one has a mother who is mentally disturbed, she stays with her grandmother, but sometimes roams the streets with her mother, getting food from bins. There seems to be little treatment in Zambia for mental illnesses, leaving the person suffering to survive as best they can - this is obviously devastating for their children.
Mike grabbed my hand and said hallo. I am not sure whether it was the hand shake or the face that I first recognised. Mike was working at the Nampeyo Guest House were I stayed on my first visit in 2003. I have met him over the years when he has been engaged in various jobs. Last year I didn't recognise him until he explained who he was. He didn't seem to look well and I was quite concerned. This year he seems much fitter and healthier.
I returned to the house to write some reports and chase the problem with the funds transfer. I spend a lot of time on the computer recording what I see for various reports as well as this blog. I see this very much as part of my work here in Zambia. Not everyone is as fortunate as I am to be able to spend a couple of months here with the people of Zambia. I see it as my job to try to give a feel of what I am experiencing daily. The world here is so different. I find it very easy to adapt and hardly notice the different sights, smells and sounds – but for many it would be a revelation. As I sit I hear African music in the distance, yesterday the church had a “Brie” (barbecue) with loud music for most of the day - this was continued by the late night bars. In the market music is often played on music systems in some shops, a small concert in the nearest part of the market also added to the atmosphere yesterday afternoon. Woman often carry goods on their heads and the most common goods transport for larger items is the wheelbarrow, which comes in a wide variety of styles – which are designed for different types of goods – some seem to be chosen for the comfort of the owner – who can often be seen dozing in them! Ox carts are another common site on the main roads as well as side roads. Going really up market you might pull your trailer with a tractor. I pass chickens for sale every day. Here the people prefer them fresh – which means alive – when they are bought.
I am always reluctant to wander around taking pictures of people without their consent, so I have few pictures of these everyday sights.
Fr. Clement called around briefly to load some units to the electricity supply. We are on a meter at the house. I was aware of the position and knew that there were in fact still plenty of units left, but the extra will last some time. I needed to buy and load units last year, so I know the system.
Jennipher popped around late and joined me for some chilli beans and rice.
Saturday 28th May
There were some more reports I wanted to get out and I also wanted to spread the word about PIZZ School.
Diven came around and somehow we got talking about the European Referendum. He said that he found it confusing – I don't think he is the only one. I have applied for a proxy vote enabling Dilys to vote on my behalf – I wonder how she would feel if I tell her to vote the opposite way to herself!!
I found that I was out of teabags and low on sugar and coffee. I went around the local small shops – most of which sell groceries – looking for coffee which isn't Nestle. Years ago I understand that Nestle ran a campaign encouraging mothers to use dried milk instead of breastfeeding. This was likely to have resulted in many child deaths in the poorest countries. I try to avoid this company for that reason and the fact that their business methods don't seem to have improved – e.g through exploitation of poor coffee farmers. After a long search I failed to find non-Nestle coffee - teabags and sugar are not so difficult, though the sugar is from a British owned firm that pays very little tax in Zambia. I will find my Frisco coffee before I completely run out!!
During my travels around the market I picked up a few pieces of chitenge material which I hope will make a nice shirt.
I had thought I might call at the church brie, but time moved on and I missed the opportunity. I sat in the garden for a bit – reading and soaking up the atmosphere.
Sunday 29th May
Today in the Catholic Church we are celebrating Corpus Christie – the feast commemorates the institution of the Eucharist which for most Christians forms the basis of their main liturgical service. In the Catholic Church we believe that God is, in some sense, fully present under the form of bread and wine. Quite an amazing claim! But if you believe in God, anything is possible! - even a universe populated with many trillions of stars, heavenly bodies, each tremendously hot, giving off light that can be seen many thousands of years later by creatures who happen to live on a rock held by an invisible force at just the right distance to prevent them freezing or frying, sustained by a liquid which is recycled in a way that constantly purifies and redistributes it – enabling life and growth. Of course such a universe and all that it contains might have occurred by chance – but I wouldn't like to guess at the odds!!
I expected the mass to be longer than usual as we had some children receiving communion (the bread and wine) for the first time. In the event this wasn't the case, however after mass there was a procession which covered about a kilometre outside on the minor roads. The Host (Bread) was displayed and carried by the priest stopping occasionally for prayers. This used to be a common tradition in England – though often confined to church grounds. However, it is rare that such processions take place these days. It is good every so often to express your faith in public. Bringing God to the community in what we believe is a real sense, cannot do anything but good.
I returned home along the railway tracks. This isn't the most direct route, though the railway runs roughly parallel to the main road which I would otherwise use. I spend a lot of time here rushing around and wanted to stroll a little away from the hustle and bustle. It is also good to walk along the railway when it is strictly forbidden in the UK!! At the side of the railway is an area of grasses and some wild flowers which attract butterflies and other insects – as well as snakes!! I forgot to pick up a paper – I might see if they are still selling them on the High Street!
I hadn't realised have time had fled and failed to get the Post. While on my way Boniface rang. He has copied his music and videos to my flash drive and wanted to pass it back. I have watched the videos and am currently listening to the music – it is good, maybe if he made some in English it might be more commercial worldwide.
By the way I have solved the issue of the massive downloads!! My friends from Micro$oft want me to have Windows 10 – apparently for free. Why am I a little suspicious?!! Anyway I had said not to install it, however Windows 10 is provided as an update and if the computer is set to update automatically – the default! - it attempts to download the software, all 2Gb+ of it!! No wonder my data bundle ran out quickly. Presumably because I never let it complete, the downloads failed and it retried! I have now told it not to download and I can use the Internet for my purposes not Micro$ofts!!