Monday, June 6, 2016

Monze Honey

Just as I get used to a pattern it changes!! The result of low water levels in Lake Kariba has resulted in the lack of power for a few hours each morning here in Monze. Until the past few days!! For some reason we had no power cuts for three days and then a cut at 10.30 pm last night – power was back again this morning. To a large extent a regular pattern of cuts is better than fewer unpredictable cuts. The fear is that the cuts will return – with a vengeance and will be unpredictable. I will wait to see if the pattern returns or whether a new one will emerge!

The weather pattern recently has been very settled. Clear blue skies to start the day, then a few light clouds to add interest to the sky, but hardly ever to shield the sun. I have taken to having lunch outside, as it is brighter and more cheerful. There are a few common butterflies that inhabit my garden, the large butterfly that posed is a regular visitor, along with a small one with blue markings - the most common is a white butterfly – isn't it always! There is also another small, almost uniform, yellow butterfly and this morning a pretty lemon coloured butterfly with a black border and black veins posed for me. I don't know if there are Zambian butterfly books - it would be good to identify some of these beautiful insects?

Saturday 4th June

Christopher popped around this morning and we chatted over a coffee. He told me that he hadn't been paid this month. He has nine children to support – he is 73 years old and these are his grandchildren. He should have been at church, but he was trying to get some food instead. He was looking for some relish, by which he was talking about a few vegetables – maybe some rape, or even a little kapenta (small dried fish) if he was lucky. He hoped to get paid on Monday, but there were still a couple of days to survive. He told me that sometimes Mrs. Sianga will give him a little piecework so he can earn something. He also told me that he was friends with Diven and worked with him for a short while at the mortuary. At this time of year, before the harvest is sold there is no business at the guest house – he told me no rooms are occupied and the bar has only one or two people in a night. The next few weeks will see things improve. Apparently Christmas is a good period at the guest house.

During the day my data bundle ran out. In the past, 2 GB has lasted a month. So far I have used 4 GB in less than a month and my use has been sparing in comparison with previous years. I think the assumption in the internet world is that the volume of data transfer is no longer an issue – everything seems to have pictures and videos attached! For me the internet is important so I will grin and bear it, with perhaps a little more care.

I found the project that makes Monze honey! I no longer need sugar on my cornflakes!!

There is always plenty for me to do in the background. Unfortunately money is needed to keep projects going and this is very true for Mrs. Sianga's project. I sit in the middle. On one side I am told by the teachers at the school that they cannot survive on the little money they receive from Hands around the World – very much less than they would receive in a government school. There are also endless bills to pay. On the other side I am told back home in England, that we cannot keep providing so much money to a single project in Africa. Squaring the circle is not easy.

At the moment we provide about £20,000 each year for wages and other routine costs – some funded through child sponsorship. We also have a separate fund where we need to raise £6,000 a year for school meals. Of course this isn't enough!! My answer is that we need to raise more money. We are currently expecting to educate a child (including giving a daily meal) for £70 a year!! Despite their hardships, the dedication of the teachers and other staff is making a huge difference to the lives of these children. In reality £100 or £120 per child (or double that) would still provide amazing value for any donor.

I will be pushing a fundraising opportunity on 16th/17th June through Global Giving and hope to top up the funds a little.

My concern is particularly for the children leaving PIZZ School. The school fees at secondary schools are a lot higher than the costs at PIZZ, but if the children are to have a chance to fulfil their potential they need to complete their education. This year Hands Around the World will need to find about £16,000 to cover the costs of students at secondary school and university. Next year I hope it will be more, because we should have more successful students at grade 9! I am starting to sell good but unwanted items on behalf of Hands Around the World to support a fund for secondary and tertiary education. I will plug this more on my return to the UK.

I am not a natural fundraiser, but when I see what a difference we can make here in Monze I will do everything I can to ensure that we don't let down these children.

Sunday 5th June

Life at Our Lady of the Wayside has gone back to normal, after the excitement of the past few weeks. For once I was around at the right time for the start of mass. It was good to have a straightforward service – the singing and dancing was good and as always the joy was evident and abundant.

I received rough instructions about the location of this afternoon's 'Section prayers'. “Not far from the Moonga's house – near Queen's”. With that I made my way home for a lunch break.

I headed off with a view to arriving at a little after 14 hrs – I had no fear of being late!! As I approached the area, a lady with a CWL (Catholic Women's League) chitenge spotted me and directed me to our host for the afternoon. It has been very rare that even with far fewer directions I have failed to locate our group which meets in the middle of the local compounds. There are no street names or house numbers here – certainly none that are displayed! However people know each other and know what is happening and there is always a friendly person to help out a lost looking white man!

I was sat down (a privilege reserved for the men) and a few comments were made – especially about my lack of Chitonga – including my own expression of shame that I know the fewest of words after so many years. The chairman saved me when he arrived. He wasn't sure which reading we should be reflecting upon, because he hadn't yet received the timetable. Each week we look at the gospel reading for the following week. I find this very useful – especially since I understand little during the service. It enables me to reflect on the gospel during its reading and during the sermon. I decided to send a text to Dilys and she was able to help out with the relevant reference. It was good to include her in our prayers.

I usually bring a small version of the New Testament (Epistles and Gospels), but this year I forgot. So I listened to the gospel in Chitonga. A reading came to mind and when I eventually was shown an English translation I found that in fact it was the reading I had thought of. The gospel relates Jesus visiting the house of a Pharisee – people renowned for being good people, keeping all the rules and doing the right thing. A women known to be a 'sinner' came to him and wiped his feet with her hair and tears. We are told that others thought Jesus was unaware of the women's reputation and if he knew he would shun her. Unfortunately so often our organised religions are unwelcoming to those who seem to lead a different lifestyle, or move in the wrong circles. Jesus always seems to make a point of engaging with such individuals, being more interested in an act of kindness than a set of often petty rules. I often find myself mixing rogues and villains – it is good to know that I'm in good company!

The prayer session ended with some high finance! A scheme has been introduced where members of the community could borrow money to do a little enterprise. They were expected to return the money the next month with 25% interest! This becomes a revolving fund to generate money for the community and apparently it is working. I was fascinated by the scheme and was surprised to hear that in some way I was responsible!


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