Greetings from Zambia.
It is now one week since I left sunny Scotland, arriving here in Zambia on Saturday afternoon, with an uneventful flight from Glasgow via Dubai to Lusaka. Jenny’s plan to pick me up on the Sunday in Lusaka fell through as her car needed urgent brake work done. I therefore swung into Zambian life by getting the Mazhandu bus from Lusaka to Choma. The bus station, even at 7.30am was teeming with life that could only be Zambia. The bus was full and took just over four hours with jenny waiting at the Choma drop off for me with the TATA backie from Chodort and both of us heaving the 30 kilos of suitcase into the back together.
As always Zambia gives a warm welcome and I am gladdened by some of the improvements I have seen so far; however, the situation with water and electric supply is dire. Poor rains last year meant the Kariba dam is very low and unable to power the turbines to full capacity. We therefore have ‘shed loading’ which means different areas got shut down for electric supply for 4 to 5 hours at a time in sequence. Midnight to 5 am; 5-10am; 10-3pm; 3pm-8pm and 8pm to midnight. Unfortunately on Thursday we were off from midnight almost continuously to after 11am then went off suddenly about 7.30pm till after midnight. We have cooked dinner with torches and candles twice this week on the gas cooker. While a minor inconvenience to me personally it means that production in Chodort carpentry is interrupted badly and in other businesses that require electricity it is effecting their production and income which is ill afforded. Of course for many Zambians being without electricity is nothing new as they do not have access to it and all the gadgetry I have access to.
There are many things happening in Chodort with plans for how to use the new classrooms top of the list. The classrooms were previously going to be used to replace the present carpentry and tailoring classrooms. However with another training centre now providing carpentry at a lower cost to students than Chodort can because of a grant we are looking at alternatives. One of these is to start a nursing college to provide local state registered nurses. This is at an early stage of being costed. To that end I visited Choma hospital on Thursday afternoon with Jenny to discuss more detail now that we have obtained the guidelines for opening a nursing college. There is a new block built at Choma hospital since I was last here and it was reassuring to see a modern ambulance but probably not equipped to the level of the UK I think it is the first one I have seen. The old hospital wards were old tobacco sheds and after seeing it yesterday I am so glad they have new wards which will go a great way to improving health outcomes in this part of Zambia.
The Beit trust who provided the finance for the classrooms visited in April to see the classrooms and open them, but on 13th October there is an opening ceremony being planned where the partners’ from Ireland and Germany will attend.
Jenny now has two dogs called Jet and Rocky which double up as guard dogs for the new college classrooms and housing estate. They are now one year old and have boundless energy but now also like sleeping on my feet.
We hoped for Jenny’s car to ‘be better’ today and set off on a road trip early tomorrow so that Jenny could take a few days off and both of us see a bit more of Zambia. We were going to be joined by one of Jenny’s friends from Kitwe; however it will mostly likely just be us two. If the car is repaired on Saturday then we will head to Lake Kariba for a couple of days. Will keep you posted on what we eventually do when I can.
What has been the moment that brought me to tears? Sitting with the staff of Chodort around the kitchen table on Thursday morning at 7.30am hearing their prayers’ of thanks for all they have, for what God showers upon them. Will leave you with that for now.
Items for Praise:
That Chodort staff now have the minimum wage;
For the new hospital.
For the hard work and commitment of Chodort staff.
The new climbing frame and goal posts at Play 4 All
Items for Prayer:
Wisdom for Jenny and her team as the plans for the use of new classrooms progress;
For the health and wellbeing of the staff of Chodort;
A safe and happy but shortened road trip for us.