Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Changing Perspective

Wednesday 28th June

I have noticed how quickly the scene changes as you walk along the road. If you glance to the other side, after just a step or two your view can change dramatically. The buildings which dominated suddenly vanish behind the trees and a rural landscape appears. A little later some rubbish or a broken fence gives a very different impression.

It is similar with the way we feel and perceive life. A pain relieved by a tablet, a friendly smile and a hug can quickly change our mood. Today I met three teenagers attending local secondary schools. I asked one what would make her life at school easier and she said “food to go to school and power – a light at home.” We take for granted that we will be able to eat at lunchtime and have electricity for a lot more than just lighting. Another girl who plaits hair when she gets back from school has food if she has people wanting this service and none if she doesn't. Yet another asked whether I would be helping her with a ream of paper and school shoes that she needed for school. These children are the “lucky” ones because we are paying their school fees. For them a couple of small steps could change their view dramatically.

Deana joined me for a meal on Saturday and it was late when she attempted to get a taxi back home. Most drivers had long stopped work for the day – fortunately one was still awake and came to collect her. We had a good chance to talk. It is sometimes useful to share experiences with someone who also lives most of the time in another world.

After mass on Sunday I visited Diven, Delia and Paul. It seemed that there had been some friction and I was filled in on some of the details. I listened to Diven and watched Delia! I don't claim any skills as a counsellor, but some issues seemed clear to me and I reflected on what I was observing. Since it was past lunchtime, I suggested that we adjourned to Tooters for a meal. Fortunately by this time some smiles had returned and they increased throughout the meal. What tomorrow will bring who knows – yet more steps and changes in scenery, for good or for worse!!

I continue to meet friends and others who greet me along the road with a friendly “Hallo Mr. Chris”. Robert passes by daily and I see a few others regularly. Many I am desperately trying to place!

There is no progress on the lighting, other than a few positive messages. I have been working on the PIZZ Annual Report. The narrative has been written by Mrs. Sianga and Killian and I have changed a few things, altered the language here and there and re-ordered paragraphs in order to make it more appropriate for a UK audience. I am keen that the document is jointly produced and agreed reflecting our close relationship and common purpose. Monday was devoted largely to this task.

Yesterday was spent at home. I had more work to do on the report and a few other tasks. However, it doesn't take long for visitors to arrive. A lady from the church came around to tell me about a child she took in when the mother died in childbirth. Another couple had arranged an appointment and I expected to need my marriage guidance hat on again. For various reasons life is very raw here and often life and death issues are at stake. In this instance the husband had killed his daughter. He had spent some time in jail. Since his release he had lived apart from his wife. Or so I thought! It seems that they went through another wedding ceremony in February – in fact on the day of my own 45th Wedding Anniversary. They wanted to tell me the good news. I have kept in contact with both parties and am delighted they are re-united. The events were terrible, but nothing will bring the daughter back and the wife's ability to forgive is truly inspirational. I wish them all the best for the future.

Jennipher arrived with Lillian(not Lillian of the rosaries but another!) and another lady. I had made some guacomole for lunch – Deana brought me an avacado pear as a present, this year fruit and vegetables are enormous! This avacardo must have weighed almost 1 Kg!!- Jennipher and friends seemed to enjoy the feast and had no problem demolishing it!

Obert cycled around. He is having a lot of problems with his leg and wasn't working yesterday. I popped into town with him and picked up some more milk – I don't know why but I seem to get through a lot of milk! On return it was around dusk and an owl flew across the road in front of me. I have heard owls around, but this was the first decent view of one this year. I suspect it was a Spotted Eagle Owl – these are apparently more common here than Barn Owls
I checked that Raymond was en-route. He had mentioned that he might see me Tuesday and as I was preparing a beef stir fry I thought I would add another sweet potato if he was on his way. He was!! I rather enjoy beef with plenty of ginger – it seems to improve if the beef is left with ginger and garlic to marinate while the rest of the vegetables are prepared. I decided to make some sweet potato chips and fry them with some pounded groundnuts. Raymond said he enjoyed the meal – I certainly did!

There are a number of things that are different here in Zambia. Forgive if I am repeating myself, but sometimes I am reminded of these features. Today the morning started completely cloudless and I was struck again by the intense blue of the sky. My laptop has a light blue background which resembles the UK sky - when we are lucky enough to see blue sky, but here the colour is many shades darker. The moon at the moment is new – which means it forms a in the night sky – eventually turning into an as it sets! having passed overhead!! I need to look at some models one day and make sense of it all!!

So today I talked to a few students and discussed the project with Mrs Sianga and Killian. Mrs. Sianga kindly provided me with lunch at her house next to the old school and her office.

Jennipher and Lillian popped around again this evening. I have promised Jennipher a notebook computer for her cervical cancer screening. I showed her how it worked this afternoon and she has borrowed it for tomorrow. I hope it will be useful for her work.

Life in Monze is difficult for so many people, my decision to share part of my life with these people brings me into constant contact with these situations. Sometimes I am able to provide a little support and comfort, often I can only listen and feel some of their pain.


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