Thursday, June 30, 2016

Centres of Excellence

I am already saying goodbye to people here in Zambia. I am not sure just how the time has flown. Yet there are still people to whom I am saying hallo. A lady in a smart car called out to greet me. Julie was my landlady a few years back when I had a marvellous house – far to big for me, but justified on the basis that a number of volunteers were coming out. In the event I had the place to myself!! Her husband Peter is a builder and was involved in a project at Monze Basic School some years back and I was asked to become involved.

I was sitting with Ireen as she was completing my shirts yesterday, when another guy from the past appeared. Clever was in charge of a piece of land used to grow vegetables and at one time he also kept chickens. This was part of the PEASSA project ran by Charles and Raymond. I understand that the owner of the land has now taken it back. I asked Clever how he was doing and he said he was struggling.

Monday 27th June

There was plenty of paperwork to catch up on after my trip to Chisamba. I had a chance to buy a few vegetables etc. and had visits from Raymond, Diven and Jennipher.

Tuesday 28th June

I had agreed to meet Mrs. Sianga at 10 hrs. I had mentioned a need for photos and there was a number of items to discuss.

When I arrived at the school it was empty! No children or staff and no sign of Mrs. Sianga. At first I was a little concerned! I knew inspectors had been around – surely there can't be a problem!

I needn't have worried everyone was at the 'New School'. Mr Sianga was waiting at the house to drive me there. It seems that there was to be a bit of a gathering in my honour!

It is a tradition that the school assembles to put on a show with dancing, poems, traditional dancing and sketches. It was great fun and it demonstrated the way in which the children grow in confidence as they go through the school.

I was asked to give a small speech – which I had not prepared. However, I don't find it too difficult to say a few appropriate words and it was my chance to express my appreciation of everyone present. I was proud of the school and told them they they too could be very proud of this wonderful project. Everyone plays their part in making this a caring environment, as well as one of academic excellence.

After the performances I spent a while with the teachers explaining, for those who were new, my role and assuring them of my support. I am very aware that the teachers struggle on the little they are paid, but I am amazed by their dedication and the resulting achievements. I like to tell them directly how much I appreciate their work – even if we don't compensate them adequately.

I was shown into the staff room where it appeared I was down as no 11 in the staff v students soccer match. Its a very long time since I played in a football match and I was never any good at my peak!!Still it was an honour to be selected and I could hardly refuse – kick-off scheduled for 3 pm.

After a quick lunch I was back for the big match – of course I needn't have rushed. I was given a team jersey to wear and battle commenced. I have slowed a lot in the past few years and know my limitations. My main aim was to avoid giving the opposition too much help – so most of the time I kept away from the ball!! (which incidently I recognised as one that I brought with me this year!) Despite my presence, our team won 2 – 1 !

Wednesday 29th June

A visit to the hospital was well overdue. I arranged to see Sr Juunza. She told me that considering the catchment area and amount of work at the hospital, it is significantly underfunded. It is obviously a struggle to provide adequate services. We talked a little about solar and she said that she wanted to look at completely powering the hospital using solar. She wondered whether I knew a donor that might be interested in providing funds for the installation.

My kettle stopped working on Tuesday, so I decided to go back to the shop – Mandes Supermarket where I bought it. Although it claimed on the box to have a one year warranty, I didn't expect a replacement!

A guy was eventually asked to look at it and he started to disassemble it – with my encouragement. We didn't find any disconnected wires and concluded that the switch must have a fault. After about an hour I left him behind the locked doors of the supermarket with the kettle.

I returned later in the day but he hadn't solved the problem, but had reassembled the kettle.

I called around to Ireen to see if my shirts were ready. One shirt still needed buttons. Just watching her sewing the buttonholes made me realise how much work was involved in making my shirts.

I had to leave because a visitor was due. Conceptor is a member of St Veronica's Small Christian Community who I have known for many years. Her family have been through a very traumatic time over the past few years. She is leaving the Community and I invited her around to chat before she moved on. I didn't manage to get back to Ireen!

I have been enjoying my beef stir fries so much that I bought another piece of steak! I have found that a very generous piece of ginger goes down very well. So it could be beef stir fries until I leave!!

Thursday 30th June

I had a 9 am appointment at Our Lady of the Wayside church to meet some of the children sponsored by St. Gregory's church. I thought no one was coming when we reached 9.30 am, however I eventually met two students and the mother of another.

Fr. Clement informed me that the oil press has been purchased. However, it now needs to be assembled and the operator needs some instruction. They will go to Lusaka on Wednesday to collect it. Since Wednesday is the day I leave Monze, I will either go with them or meet up in Lusaka. This will give me the opportunity to get some photos and find out a bit more about the operation. It is also hoped to collect another submersible pump for the water at the same time.

The children from the pre-school were outside and I couldn't resist going over to say hallo!

Best came around with his fiancée and their child. They are preparing for the wedding next month. I would have liked to be there.

In the afternoon I visited Lwengu School and its Director Shatis. Shatis had an idea to build a school many years back. He told me he had virtually no money and was advised against the idea. Anyway he more or less started building the school on his own – quite literally. Many of the buildings use hydroform blocks which fit together a bit like lego. These blocks he makes himself – now using a diesel operated machine. The school is now accepted as a place of excellence with students from many countries competing for places. I think anyone would be pleased to have their children educated here.

I was invited into his office in a new complex, which was being completed last time I visited. His grandchild wanted to know who I was and why I was visiting – apparently she is always interested in his work and spends a lot of time with him. She made us cups of tea.

Shatis has always been interested in nature and is involved with Kafue National Park as a Ranger. He said he is going away for a fishing trip with a couple of his nephews this weekend – he has his own boats and they will camp out well away from what we sometimes call civilisation! He told me that some of the children have decided to raise money for an elephant sanctuary in the Park and another group, again from their own initiative are supporting a school for disabled children not too far away. The emphasis is on a rounded education – not just getting good exam results, though I am sure these come as well.

My shirts were ready so I picked them up on my way back - and rather smart they are too!

Jennipher dropped by very briefly, but the other guest I expected hasn't made an appearance.

Best wishes,


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