Monday 29th May
On Friday I met again with Mrs. Sianga. We had a lot to discuss. It is always good to try to understand things from the perspective of living in this part of the world. Life is often quite literally about survival. At the school there is never money in the bank – money is sent for wages, but depending on the fluctuation of the pound, what arrives might not be enough. Unexpected bills arrive which need to be paid. If you never have enough there is never going to be a contingency fund.
I live in the middle!! I see the terrible struggles here and know the difficulty in raising funds back in the UK. It is a difficult job trying to satisfy both sides!
I am told that now I have become fat! This is generally a complement in Zambia, but I wouldn't mind losing a few pounds! In the past I have lost up to two stone in a visit!! I met my friend who carries scales on his wheelchair and he checked my weight. I will make use of his services a couple more times before I leave.
Walking helps me with the objective of losing weight. Being at this house gives me the opportunity. Yesterday for instance I walked to church 2-3km and most of the way back – Fr. Clement gave us a lift part way. I then went to meet with St. Veronica's Small Christian Community – another couple of kilometres each way. Unfortunately some of the good work was undone in the evening with a few Mosis and a session on the pool table. Ben now knows why I really come out to Zambia. The bartender joined us for pool and was quite good – however my competitive spirit came through in the end and I took one game off him in the end.
IT'S A TRAIN!
I tend to rush about a lot – too much! Occasionally I slow down and take in the atmosphere. On the way back from town yesterday I cut across some rough ground and it was quiet and very peaceful. Trees around spoke of Africa, Pau-Pau, tall Euphorbias, Jacaranda and Mangoes. The sky was a very deep blue and it was a joy to be alive!
I met more people at mass yesterday – the mass was celebrating the Ascension of Christ into heaven. There was more dancing than last week, the singing was a bit more lively and even a bit of incense was thrown around now and then.
I spent most of Saturday at home sorting out one or two things on the computer. Best popped in and we caught up. Due to a technicality he was denied his bar acceptance last year and will have to retake a module this year. I hope all will go well and he will be a fully fledged lawyer next year. My current John Grisham novel is about a young man who is about to take his bar exams and seems quite appropriate. I doubt however whether Best's next year will be quite as eventful – but you never know!!
The shipment of solar lighting left London on Thursday and I have been tracking it online. I expected it to arrive in Lusaka on Saturday, but in fact it was not until Sunday lunchtime that the goods were received. We are now waiting for them to be cleared.
The timing has been slightly out!! Roger Mugridge who designed the system and built some of the components was coming to visit us today and I hoped he would bring the equipment with him from Lusaka. Unfortuately it wasn't ready. Anyway he was able to help us – Ben in particular – to plan the installation. One of the classroom blocks has metal girders instead of wooden beams so he was able to bring some extra cable ties that will enable us to fit the lights. He also explained the process.
IT'S A LONG TRAIN!!
The mobile network has been particularly bad today which has made it very difficult to communicate particularly with Roger. By the time we joined up he and Margaret, who is accompanying him, were more than ready for a sandwich and hot drink. After surveying the school and finding somewhere to spend the night, they returned with us to our house. Jennipher soon arrived with three friends who had been at the hospital. Jennipher told Margaret part of her story which she found remarkable. Jennipher informed me that Fr. Kenan's mother was admitted to the hospital seriously ill. I am particular sad to hear this. In 2007 I spent a wonderful and very memorable weekend at her house which is in a remote village i.e. her nearest neighbour is ½ Km or so away (This is the meanng of village in Zambia) A village is also away from electricity and water is often a long way away. Nowadays of course this doesn't mean that mobile phones don't work! Fr. Kenan's mother had a solar panel which she used to charge the phones in her neighbourhood! I will try to get along to the hospital to pay a visit.
I have a love / hate relationship with computers. Today the latter was to the fore. I want to do something about the viruses on the computer in the office at PIZZ School. David left Mrs. Sianga a dongle, but she seemed to believe that there was a problem getting an Internet connection. So the plan was to connect the dongle – now with a good sized data bundle – download antivirus software and clean the machine of viruses. Simple!
Not quite!! First I needed to install the software from the dongle. I was asked for a password which Killian thought he knew. However it didn't work. After making numerous guesses, eventually Killian contacted the supplier of the computer – an organisation called Camara, originating from Dublin, they provided the information and the dongle was installed – even better the Internet was there ready to be surfed!!
Next job was to download free antivirus software. Three attempts to install AVG failed and two to install Avast. I was coming to the conclusion that the computer had contracted a virus which prevented antivirus software from being installed!! As Ben remarked - “there's a hole in my bucket...” One more attempt – this time with Bitdefender – and success. What seemed a large data bundle is now much diminished – just downloading the files for Bitdefender took 245 Mb!!
But after three hours or so it was mission accomplished!
IT'S A VERY LONG TRAIN!!!