Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Joy of Walking

Wednesday 31st May

Zambia have just beaten Germany 4-3 (or possibly 5-3) in the preliminary rounds of the under 21's football World Cup! In Monze you know when Zambia score a goal – the cheers ring out throughout the town!! This Nation loves it's football, most of the young lads and some of the girls are keen followers of the national team and also follow the English Premier League clubs (unless they prefer Barcelona, or Real Madrid).

Yesterday afternoon I played with a couple more computers, checking the specification, finding out if any anti-virus was loaded and identifying any issues. At about 15.30 I called it a day – leaving one computer carrying out a very slow virus scan. I had told Fr. Kenan that I would visit his mother at the hospital and was keen to get along to see her.

I found her in the female ward quite poorly. She was unable to talk and was being fed through a tube. She could however respond to let me know she could hear and understand. I spent a few minutes talking to her, with Fr. Kenan translating. He asked me to say a prayer with her before I left, which I was very pleased to do.

I bumped into a member of the hospital staf as I left who knew me from Our Lady of the Wayside and she walked with me to the robots!


As I was approachng the house a small girl put her arms out wide, gave an enormous cheeky smile and exclaimed “Mr. Chris!”. The face looked familiar, but I didn't immediately click who this diminutive young lady could be. “Do you remember me? - Nancy.” I thought for a minute and then remembered. I first met Nancy a couple of years ago. I was visiting Obert's mother and her pre-school. I took some photos and one girl took over the show – Nancy!! She posed and gave such a cheeky grin. The children left the group and I met her outside and again she came up to me and chatted. There is no doubt Nancy will go far. Last year I asked about Nancy and I was told she was now at school or a nursery elsewhere – then as if by magic she appeared and greeted me.

Nancy is now at St. Vincent's Catholic School and looks very smart in her new uniform. She held her arms out again and I picked her up and gave her a hug! It is in such meetings that the spirits are immediately lifted. I have often felt that God meets us through the smiles of others. I am sure that God delighted in the meeting between Nancy and Mr. Chris yesterday.

In the evening Obert called around. He had been to check how much a new leg would cost. His current artificial leg is causing him a lot of problems. Apparently because he bought his previous leg from the Holy Family Centre they were prepared to reduce the cost from 4,000 to 3,850 Kwacha. (about £320). In Zambia this is a huge amount of money, it is no wonder you see many people with one leg using crutches. I would have hope a charity helping children with disabilities in Africa would provide limbs free, or at a nominal charge, for those who have almost nothing.

Before setting out this morning I rang Dilys and checked the Internet. I was running a little late but decided not to rush, but to enjoy the journey. I heard the cry “Chris” and recognised Boniface - the singer. He had found out earlier that I was around and rang me, guessing I might have the same number as in previous years. Boniface was a student at PIZZ School and now earns a living as a singer. He told me that he has been booked for a number of agricultural shows in the area. He usually borrows speakers from a friend but the friend now wants to sell them – so he might have an issue. A couple of years back Boniface wrote an performed a song for PIZZ School. If I find the address on Youtube I will add it here. Boniface Celebrating PIZZ School

One of the computers I was looking at was very slow. It is running Windows XP and only had 128Mb of RAM. For most people who have no idea what I am talking about, the minimum recommended amount is eight times this figure!! I might see if I can increase it a bit!

Another computer wouldn't open and a message suggesting a memory problem was displayed. I abandoned it while I dealt with another machine, then opened it up and reseated the cards – to my surprise it now booted up without a problem. It's a while since I got so intimately connected with computer hardware!!

Betty arrived in the morning so I took a break from the machines and found out a little about her. Betty is at a local secondary school – Fountaingate. She was one of the PIZZ students who successfully passed her grade 9 exams last December. My aim is to find 3 years funding for each of the 29 students who passed last year. My daughter Helen has decided to run an ultramarathon on June 10th to pay for Betty and Talent who I saw last week. She has so far run over 150 miles (240 Km) since the beinning of May in preparation for her 53 mile (85 Km) run! Anyone wanting to sponsor her can donate using this link Betty is also keen on running – I suggested that one day she too might run an ultramarathon!

Caster also came to see me at the school. Caster told me that he had come to tell me how grateful he was for the support he had received through PIZZ because of me i.e. Hands Around the World. I asked him whether we had met personally at the school before and he said yes -when he was in grade 2!! He has just completed his grade 12 exams and hopes to be able to go to Lusangu University, where he wants to train as a secondary school teacher.

I left the computers running and decided to return home for lunch – depite the rumours David spread it is only a short stroll back to the Curia!! (well about 30 minutes!). The advantage of walking is of course that I am always meeting friends! How much poorer would I have been if I shot past Nancy yesterday in a taxi! On the way back I met Lashford. He was in charge of the building of the ICU in 2003 and completed the work after the team from Hands Around the World left at the start of the foundations! He also surpervised the building of the first classroom block Hands Around the World were responsible for at PIZZ School and built a new church in Monze where he was a founder member. Some years back he suffered the death of his baby child and was of course devastated. He told me he hasn't any work at present despite his expertise.


 I had a leisurely lunch and made the 'short' trip back to the school. On the way a driver shouted greetings – I think it was Ian who stopped to say hallo yesterday. I spent a lot of time with Ian when I was working in the hospital from 2004 onwards. Ian was working in the stores and very quickly became adept at using the computer. I was developing and introducing a stock control system for the hospital and Ian input a lot of the data. Of course we also had a chance to chat about a wide range of subjects during our time together.

There was a problem downloading updates for the anti-virus software on one of the computers. It turned out that my 3Gb data bundle was already exhausted! I thought 2 Gb should be enough for the month but the cost of the extra Gig was marginal so I decided to go for it – less than two weeks later I need more – and I have only succeeded in loading anti-virus software onto one computer so far!

With no way of downloading anything I decided it was time for yet another stroll. It's not true that I am labouring the point just for David's benefit!! As I said he won't read the blog so I am safe!

I am not sure who most of the people were who greeted me on my return journey – one instead of “Mr. Chris” shouted “Chris Barrell” - probably because I didin't notice their initial Hallo. Some of the children also call me by name i.e. “Chris” or “Mr. Chris”. As I am known from the church and the school in addition to my other connections, there are lot more people who recognise me than I know. Monze is a very friendly place where even strangers will greet you warmly. A common greeting I particularly like is “Hallo my friend”.

As I passed by St. Vincent's School I noticed a nun and thought it must be Sr. Lontia – the Head. Indeed it was – she was with a lady with Chinese features who told me she had lived here now for two years. I chatte a little while to Sr. Lontia and said that I might try to bring Ben to see the school if we have a chance – she gave me her number so that I can sort out an appointment.

I keep pretty busy here in Monze, there is certainly no time to worry about how I can fill my day – though I admit I have almost finished my first novel since I arrived.

With love and prayers,


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