Its already late and tonight is the last time I will have a computer here in Zambia. I have brought my laptop with me each year for many years now, but they never seem to make it back to the UK. I will no doubt pick up another secondhand computer when I get back.
I will give a brief update now and fill in the final days after I land in the UK.
I had a call from a very distressed Luke on Thursday afternoon. His young daughter had been killed and of course he was distraught. I can't imagine the pain he is going through. There is nothing that can be said that is in any way adequate. Luke has worked so hard looking after his siblings, nieces, nephews etc. It seems so dreadfully unfair that he has to suffer this tragedy.
Friday 1st July
It must be old age but my first thought is that I didn't do anything on Friday! But no I remember now!! I did a last clothes wash before going to see Mrs. Sianga. There are still a few things to sort out with respect of the project – in particular a close look at the budget is needed to assess how much is really needed to maintain the school. The budget has always been tight and it is important for me to understand how they manage to keep things running.
I was told that Friday was part of a four day holiday, but Mrs. Sianga said that the holiday started on Saturday and finished on Tuesday!
On my way home I called in to see Diven. We ended up discussing his property and boundaries – eventually using a tape measure and diagrams to determine exactly what he was about to acquire.
It was nearly 5 pm when I got home – fortunately Diven had fed me with some rice – as a rice pudding i.e. with milk and sugar. A visitor was due at 6pm but he didn't show.
Saturday 2nd July
I arranged for my visitors to arrive a little early because I was meeting Diven at 9.30 am. I usually introduce you to my visitors, but there can be some jealousy among people and I have been asked quite rightly to protect their privacy in this instance. Suffice it to say that they have a very good little business idea and want my help in finding some funding. I was very impressed by the people involved and have no doubt that with a little capital, they will have a thriving little business. This tale is repeated all the time here in Monze. So many people are very willing to work very hard, but with nothing it is difficult to raise more than the bare minimum for food – and even that is a struggle.
Diven's final purchase was eventually sorted out, giving him a clearly defined plot of land which now has some buildings for his home and business. Now he has to ensure that his shop is well stocked and attracts enough custom.
Bright popped around to say hallo and goodbye. We had some coffee and chatted for a while. I put a couple of brief reports together and prepared for Teddy who was due in the evening. I am not sure what happened but he didn't appear.
Sunday 3rd July
I had invited Diven to come to supper with Delia and Diven's uncle. I decided to prepare the vegetables early, since I would be fully occupied during the day.
I attended the Tonga mass as usual at Our Lady of the Wayside. Fr. Raphael was celebrating mass and I happened to bump into him beforehand – after he said the children's mass. I wanted to express my condolences because of the loss of his father, a couple of weeks back. I thought I should tell alsotell him I was about to leave.
I always hope to slip away quietly, but it rarely – if ever – happens. Fr. Raphael thanked the donor from St. Gregory's church for the oil press which is about to be installed, before asking me to say a few words. The truth is that I am the one who has gained most from my time in Zambia. My life has been greatly enriched by my contact with the people here – if I can help here and there it is a delight. I asked for the people to continue to pray for our parish back in Cheltenham.
After mass many people came to say goodbye and wish me a safe journey.
I had a chance to send an e-mail or two and sort out a few things with my bank account over lunch before heading for St. Veronica's.
As usual a guide was on hand to take me to the meeting. Next Sunday's reading is the parable of the Good Samaritan. I am struck by the way Jesus points out that the priest and Levite – pillars of society - ignored the man who had been attacked. It was a Samaritan – an outsider – who recognised his neighbour and thus would gain eternal life. The message is clear. We should give support to anyone in need (Jesus says nothing about the man – other than that he was a man). This parable could be applied to many situations today. It is sad that in our world so many want to walk on the other side of the road - especially if the “man” is from a different tribe, or country or of the wrong religion.
Who is my neighbour?
I was wished a fond farewell by the Small Christian Community, with a promise of a final farewell on Tuesday.
Time to russh back home and finish the preparation for my meal.
My guests arrived at 18 hrs as agreed. I invited them in and made coffees, then put on the food. Now that I am addicted to my beef stir fry, this was the agreed fare for the evening.
It was particularly good to have Diven's uncle with us at my house for the first time. He is a lovely gentle man with a great humour. I showed a few photos and ended up showing some of the birthday cards I have made over the years. They were particularly taken by one which has a picture of my friend Mary flying a sort of microlight over Chililantambo. Since Mary has neither flown a microlight, nor been to Zambia, it was a bit mysterious. Diven's uncle wondered whether I used magic to produce the cards, so I showed him Gimp!! This is a program which has a clone tool that enables me to copy parts of photos from one to another. This is the main tool I use to construct the pictures for my cards. Although I enjoy making cards, they take a lot of effort – which of course is why they are worthwhile. I will have to make a card for Diven and his family.
Well it is time to sign off!! It is late and I still need to tidy the computer and transfer all my information to a flash drive.
It will be a late night!
Tomorrow is full with a trip to Pemba in the morning, a final session at PIZZ School in the afternoon – despite the holiday and a couple of visitors in the evening before a final session on the pool table with Fr. Clement.
Tuesday is free to do everything left and say goodbye.
So its goodnight from me!
With love and prayers.