Monday, June 26, 2017

Chisamba and Back

Saturday 24th June

I travelled safely to and from Chisamba. New this year are a series of tolls on the roads. I have personally never been convinced that tolls are the most efficient method for collecting taxes – I believe that an extra few ngwee on a litre of fuel would be better. Between Monze and Chisamba – a distance of about 250 Km we passed through three toll booths. Two booths were within 20 Km of each other.

Travelling to Chisamba takes a good eight hours. A significant time is spent waiting for buses and taxis to fill. I set out just after six hours on Tuesday and would have arrived at about 14.30 if the taxi hadn't ran out of fuel!! In the event a back-up taxi delivered us at 15 hrs!

When you get a bus to Chisamba you are dropped at Chisamba crossroads on the Great North Road. I once walked from there to Chisamba town, but since it is about 23 Km you need to be well prepared! Hence the taxi!!

It seems that Miriam and her son Cephas were being evicted for a couple of days to accommodate me. Miriam was very gracious and said that she would be visiting a relative, much as Mary visited Elizabeth when carrying Jesus in her womb. She told me that it was therefore a blessing.

Miriam has worked hard to transform the room, which was prepared for me some years back, into a home for herself and her son. It is humbling to think of this very basic building being a full time home. At least there is now a bed and Miram has everything sorted and in its place. Fortunately I wasn't around long enough to do much damage.

Cephas wrote his name for me in the book I was using for my notes about Kaliyangile! He told me that he was six years old and was in grade 1. His grasp of English was excellent and I am sure he is another child who will go far. We became good friends during the short period I was around. Miriam teaches knitting and some dressmaking at the Centre so they were present quite a lot. At one point I thought I would take a picture of Cephas – possibly a mistake!! He asked me how to operate the camera and then spent the next half hour making me pose for photos which he took, as if he had been using the equipment for years. After showing him once how to look at a pcture just taken he checked all the photos on the camera to see what I had been taking during the past week or so.

Hands Around the World's financial involvement with Kaliyangile has dropped very considerably in recent years, but it is impotant to maintain the relationship. I like to see how things are progressing, what plans they have and if there are particular issues where we might still be able to provide some support. The fact that the project is still active is an achievement in itself, since they used to rely on significant funding from us. The Centre is developing in different areas where there seems to be a local need. For instance they are now providing literacy classes. It is good that the project develops and adapts to what is needed locally.

There is always time to ponder and reflect when I visit Chisamba. I wandered around the site and had a meeting with the local committee – the members of which I know well. I also managed a session of pool with Davidson. In fact I thought I might have to forgo pool when Davidson wasn't around on Tuesday, however I bumped into him in town on Wednesday morning and arranged an appointment for the evening!! In the event Persis came with us to the club, after a meal and met friends while Davidson and myself took our turns on the table throughout the evening. I enjoyed some good games with the local guys.

There is a well known character in Chisamba whose name escapes me. He creates very intricate plans and drawings and has an idea for an aeroplane which runs on magnets! He told me that he had written a song about Brexit and would come around with his guitar and play it for me! I hoped he would visit – in the event I was disappointed because he didn't appear!

While in Chisamba I had a call from Fr. Victor who had some guests wanting to use rooms at my house. Unfortunately I had the keys and the spares were safely inside the house! So different arrangements were made for the visitors– I hoped I wasn't in too much trouble!!

I left Chisamba just after eight hours on Thursday. A couple of half empty buses left the High Street - well in fact the only street in Chisamba!! Eventually my taxi left and took me to the turn off. A friendly policeman found me a “bus” - since it had only a single row of seats it was more like a van!! We made good time until we were stopped at a police checkpoint. It is often difficult to understand on what grounds the police stop vehicles. Our bus on the way up avoided problems of overloading by dropping a guy before the checkpoints and retrieving him further down the road. On one occasion he hitched a lift past the police in a pick-up truck and came back on board a few kilometres later!!

I decided that at eleven hours I would do best picking up a bus from the Inter-City bus station. There was an 11.30 FM bus which suited me fine – if it had left before 12.30 I would have been in Monze by 15 hrs - as it was, a extra hour was added to the journey time.

I paid a brief visit to Mrs. Sianga yesterday morning, but needed to get back for a trustees meeting in Monmouth in the afternoon! With the wonders of Skype I was able to attend the meeting, with only a short break due to network problems. On the whole I was able to listen and participate fully – though occasionally the quality was poor.

Jennipher and Bonadventure popped along at lunchtime and joined me for guacomole. When I emerged from my meeting, Raymond was waiting so we finished the dip (spread) between us as a snack before supper.

Today I have caught up on some household chores. Lillian called around to drop off some rosaries. I had forgotten our arrangement, but fortunately I was at home. Lilian also had a present for me – a necklace made of beads. She explained that the main beads were in fact made from old calenders that she had cut up. I am very impressed with her ingenuity and recycling initiative. I have ordered some more necklaces because I think they look good and might go down well in the UK. Lillian told me that she also works at the Home Based Care office at the church and makes the Communion hosts for the church – both of which activities she does on a voluntary basis.

I have promised to make Deana supper – so I had better sort out a little shopping and get busy.


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