Saturday the 19th of September
This particular post has been written over a week. There was always more to write and also the power situation to have charge on computer or internet or my energy! So hope it is not too confusing for you. I have placed pictures on separate pages for Play 4 All so as not to clog up this bit too much. Please go and have a look at them.
Greetings from Kitwe. Have had two wonderful mornings at Play 4 All after a long journey from Choma to Kitwe. Left Choma at 4.45 on the 9th by car with Jenny and made good time, arriving in Lusaka at 9am. Watched the sun rise on the horizon, and Zambia coming to life. Though there are cars on the road, most activity comes from the many people walking long distances into the nearest town, in the dark to sell their produce or charcoal. The lucky ones may have a bicycle which is heavy Iaden. Lights on bikes are not very common, making it a bit hazardous to drive in the dark.
We caught up with Mr Mwango and Mr Banda from Chodort for breakfast before Jenny took me to the bus station to book a bus to Kitwe. Booked the 11.30 bus which was only a short wait, and as Lusaka bus station is quite entertaining it passed quickly. In the first half hour I could have purchased a whole load of stuff without leaving my seat. After a good view of Zambia from the roadside and very stiff knees I arrived in Kitwe at 7pm! Got a taxi up to the Lund family who are a mission family living in Mindolo Ecumenical Foundation and who I met on my first trip to Zambia.
After a welcome meal and catch up I slept blissfully. Headed off to meet Jane in Kamatipa market and get to Play 4 All for a lovely welcome from volunteers. Not as many children on my first day, but that gave me time to catch up with Jane and show her the first instalment of puzzles and things I had brought with me and do some planning. The climbing frame is in place but with modifications like not being cemented in so that it could be brought in to the building at night for security and not as large as originally planned so I would fit in. That meant a double swing was also affordable. The Basketball / netball hoops that were sponsored are in place, including the portable posts to also take them into the building. The volunteers plan to organise the children into teams for playing. All morning the new footballs were in use though the ground space is less now as a clinic is being built on part of the land that Play4All use which belongs to the YMCA.
There are some changes / improvements in Kamatipa; however it is still the case that poverty is overriding everything, but their spirit is bright and there is much laughter. The Zambian currency is the Kwacha and is doing very poorly just now, prices are going up for basics and when you did not have the money, or very little for basics before it is even harder now.
After P4A I headed into town to meet with Kabutu who has developed the project called Grace of God services for vulnerable people and he brought me up to date. He has been visiting the management of the local copper mines and some mines are taking an interest in what he is doing and providing some support with a promise of more. We had lunch in KFC=Kitwe Fried Chicken! Made arrangements to visit Kandabwe on Saturday the 12th then I headed back to the Lund’s to meet up with Loveness. Loveness looked after me on my first stay here in Kitwe. She has brought up two daughters on her own, one about to finish training as a nurse, but because of health issues now cannot work as before.
Saturday was a whirlwind of a day as I first went off to meet Caroline in Chemwemwe. Caroline has a young family of her own but 8 years ago her concern for orphans living on the street meant she started taking them in. she now has 29 orphans ranging in age from her own daughter Annie who is now three to the eldest who is 19. She succeeds in getting them through school and at present has funding from a church in UK for schooling. It was humbling to observe the interactions and support they give each other and the respect for Caroline. Did I mention it is a 1 bedroom house? Caroline is desperately trying to build larger accommodation for the orphans, but it is slow progress. She keeps the cement bags in her small sitting room to prevent them being stolen as has happened. Caroline has also been instrumental in supporting the local albino group. (See link at side for more info on albinism). After a dancing session in the yard when this oldie was no match for the youngsters I took my leave. I then headed off to meet Kabutu in town with the help of Matthew who has taxied me around at way less than cost of a bus into town at home. Got to Kandabwe where the elderly group were in full swing. Kabutu’s efforts (at great cost to himself, as he only does piece work as a guard when he needs to pay his own bills so he can concentrate on the group) is beginning to pay off. The group was having a talk on the health problems associated with alcohol abuse. A local mine company has started the process of providing slightly better shelter for them to meet in and some food. Local churches give donations of clothing. The communal weekly meal was ready of fish, beans, nshima and greens. Many of the elderly have grandchildren living with them and Kabutu is now looking at how he can extend the programme to include them. A number of children were present and thankfully I had stopped to buy a huge bag of bananas. The children do not have any schooling and they are not near a health clinic; these are all issues Kabutu would like to address in due course by highlighting the plight of the elderly in Kandabwe to local officials. Some of the very generous donation money I have received will go towards the cost of seed and fertiliser for them to grow their own maize which they can then use themselves and also sell some to provide much needed cash and become more self-sufficient. Kabutu took me round the compound and I was able to see at first hand the poor state of most of the housing. Mr Moongna, with great dignity showed me his home. The compound has approximately 4000 people with 1 water tap. Kabutu’s vision of what could happen in Kandabwe has encouraged other local people to volunteer their time. This is to help with cooking the meal and they also assist those who are too frail to eat and have a wash. A volunteer had also donated some soap for which we prayed together and gave thanks for the donation.
Throughout my visit there was laughter and singing, clapping and prayer.
Kabutu then walked me back into town via the market where I bought some chitenge material to have my chitenge suit made up back in Choma and then into the African curio stalls to buy more bits and pieces to take home (sorry Dave and Morag!) On arriving back at Lund household and after a refreshing cup of tea I assisted the lovely Talitha to make a cheesecake with the recipe and ingredients left by a previous visitor to the family.
Sunday was a day of rest after attending the Anglican Church service in MEF at 8am. The sermon was from the book of Daniel and what is good leadership?
Monday saw me back at Play 4 All and more games. The kids had learnt my name and how old I was to treat hilarity; however to have them tug at you and look up earnestly and say ‘I am hungry’ churns your up, especially as most of them would not have eaten before coming to Play 4 All. Jane continues to explore what options there are for an income generating programme in Kamatipa which would also make Play 4 all self-sustaining. Will keep you posted. On the Friday morning a local primary teacher took her class along to P4A so they could play games and football and in return she took the kids from P4A and gave a class under the trees. Co-operation and awareness like this in the local community will be invaluable. I also met with Beatrice, one of Jenny’s friends in the afternoon and Kabutu again. I left Kitwe on the Tuesday morning and to save my knees I broke the journey in Lusaka overnight, getting back to Choma in late afternoon.
Prior to leaving for Kitwe the challenges of electric power outages now lasting 8 hours at a time to conserve energy continue. The working day at Chodort has been changed to work when power mostly available. I have heard many reasons for the power outages and will only comment that it is complex and multi layered.
Jenny and I did have some down time by heading to Lake Kariba a two hour drive from Choma the previous weekend. We opted to stay on Chikanka Island 30 km into the lake. Taken there in a rubber dingy (with motor), which was an adventure in itself. The island is small, only four guests the first night, then only us two the second night, a small staff, the two owners and some animals. It was so lovely and peaceful. No Wi-Fi, its own generator which only came on in the evening and beautiful views of Lake Kariba.
Now I am back in Choma it is on with some baking ready for the opening ceremony of the new classrooms on the 13th October. Preparation for my session on non-communicable diseases with the students on the 6th October and a trip to Masuku village and clinic, 60 kilometres from Choma. Jenny also has a busy time ahead with interviews planned for the 25th for a new Vice Principal for Chodort. Her boss from the Methodist church in UK also visits at that time. Prior to the opening ceremony Rev. David Nixon, the first principal at Chodort arrives from Ireland and representatives from the Church in Germany along with other guests.
Items for praise:
The way the staff of Chodort are coping with the change in working because of the power outages.
The resilience and faith of the people of Zambia
Items for prayer:
That a new Vice principal is appointed at Chodort soon. (interviews on Friday 25th.
For Jane, Kabutu and Caroline in Kitwe, working hard to improve things in their local community.
For a solution to be found to the power situation in Zambia.