On Monday we had a busy day at Kawama School. We had two teams visiting this week and on Monday we interviewed all the children and their carers as part of the child sponsorship programme that Beyond Ourselves runs. We interviewed just over 360 children, took their photos, and measured their height and weight. It was busy, but it went smoothly.
A short while ago Melissa posted a few thoughts about our little friend Muko and his desire for Adidas trainers. Since then a number of people have enquired about the outcome of the story, and what we decided to do.
A few people offered to get shoes for him and when a team arrived from home last week, two options came our way. One pair, bought specifically for him through connections at the Restore Centre, and a second pre-owned pair, which were washed and in great condition.
They were two different sizes so we thought we’d take both to Muko to see which would fit. Bizarrely enough, the two different Adidas sizes both seemed to fit perfectly and so Muko ended up receiving them both: one pair for football and the other pair for casual wear.
I’ve been reading a lot about receiving and reflecting Jesus’ love and, although the need around us is overwhelming, the impact that loving the one in front of you can have. What could sum that up better than Muko receiving a double portion.
Mothers are amazing. As a new mum, I have a whole new respect for my own mum and for motherhood in general. Being a mum is incredible but it definitely isn’t for the faint hearted. And then I think about mothers of multiples, single parents, and those with live with the heartache and exhaustion of having a child with health issues… My hat comes off to you.
I often feel like I stand in awe of mothers here in Zambia. The African mother doesn’t have it easy. Every day I see women walking with a child strapped to their back, something massive balancing on their head and hands full with shopping or other parcels, all in 35 degree heat. I have no idea how long their journey is but I know I couldn’t walk any distance like that. I sometimes wonder what most Zambian mothers would think if they came to the UK – what would they make of our buggies, playgroups and coffee shop times? What about our cribs/cots, nurseries and changing tables? I wonder if motherhood would look so easy.
Our friend Emma had a baby a couple of days ago. We’ve know her and her family for the last 8 years and Dan lived with them when he first came to Zambia. She’s a school teacher and she taught until a day before her due date. She had to travel on two very crowded buses, about an hour and a half each way to her work each day. Upon returning home she’d cook over a small brazier, something that is very time consuming and hot. In addition to this, they have two vivacious boys (aged 8 and 3) already so she’s always busy with them. When we visited her on Friday, she was sitting outside, leaning over her big belly, doing her handwashing – she was sweaty and swollen and had a massive smile on her face.
On Sunday night she had another little boy. He’s about 6 pounds and absolutely gorgeous. They are both healthy. We went to visit yesterday and I was very pleased to see her resting. As I sat there, I wondered how I would cope with her situation. They live in a two-room home. Her and her husband have two boys and then they have two nieces (aged 12 and 15) that live with them as well. Their home has very little ventilation so it is hot and when I sit in their living room and look up, I can see the sky through the gaps in the metal sheets that make their roof – I can’t see how the roof wouldn’t leak when it rains. They don’t have electricity and their access to water is from tap outside a neighbour’s house. She said the baby cried loads in the night and was up nearly every 30 minutes. I can’t imagine how stressful I would find that knowing that every other member of my family are in the same room potentially being woken up by the new baby. She doesn’t have family, friends and a church that are bringing them meals so they don’t have to cook. In a couple of days she’ll simply get on with her normal life, just with an addition strapped to her back. Emma, you are amazing.
There are challenges to living in any city. Whether it be incessant rain and gray days, and congestion in and around London, or a frozen fuel cover on your freshly washed car in the depths of winter in Winkler and being snowed in when you really really wanted a trip to Winnipeg, each place has its things that irk you: things that you learn to live with, but you’d rather wish you didn’t have to.
This is Africa, and so the list of things you learn to live with but you’d rather wish you didn’t have to, can be long. Don’t get me wrong, we love it here. Actually being here for this ‘trial run’ has quickly solidified our decision to come back next year to move here indefinitely. We want this to be home for us and for Jacob and we’re really thankful that we already feel like our time here has confirmed this. That said, in the last couple of weeks there have been many things that have been a bit frustrating, but, this is Africa.
Here’s what’s happened in the last week:
- Our power went out for a few days. Something went wrong with the electrical companies wires and all of a sudden the power was gone at our place and two other houses in the area. We need to get used to this though as the rainy season is upon us and power cuts can be more frequent….
- Towards the end of the power cut, our water also stopped working for about 5 hours. The water stops working about once a week for a few hours but 5 hours was it’s longest. Such fun…
- The other day I went to get some photocopying done that I needed. But when I arrived at the photocopying place, guess what, the power was out! No photocopying for me…Thankfully we weren’t in the grocery store though. When a powercut strikes and you’re at the checkout, lockdown sets in and everyone simply stands there, in the darkness, waiting for the lights to flicker back into life…
- Grocery shopping (even when there’s power) is a bit of a palaver here. There are three groceries stores and all must be visited to get everything one requires for the weekly shop. Also, lugging around a baby in 35 degree heat while trying to do the shopping isn’t particularly fun, and this is coming from someone that usually loves grocery shopping…
Thankfully the pros always seem to outweigh the cons and we’ve become very good at laughing through the darker times 🙂
Once or twice a week we all head to Kitwe, which is where Dan and I lived the last time we were here. On Monday we were there for the day. We went to Chisokone market in the morning, shopping for some goods for Beyond Ourselves. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been to the Kitwe market. It’s always been a very busy place however it now seems to be spilling over into the town centre and it seemed busier than ever. Thankfully the guys in the market were really helpful though and so we didn’t have to venture into the depths of the market – which was great.
We went to Greater Joy School later in the morning. Dan goes there two days a week to help the less able readers in Years 5-7. We know literacy is so important so Dan is helping them with phonics and to gain confidence in reading. I spent most of our time there visiting with the cooks for the feeding programme. Jacob was also causing a bit of disruption. Many of the younger children were sneaking out of class to come and have a look at him. 🙂 We were there for part of the feeding programme as well. Every child at each of our schools gets a free school meal each day. It’s always brilliant to see this programme in action.
In the afternoon we were at Kawama School again. There is a team arriving on the weekend, who will be spending a week at Kawama. Next Monday the team will be interviewing all of the children and their carers as part of the sponsorship programme so there’s plenty of things to get together in preparation for that.
We were shattered by the end of the hot day (37 degrees at its highest) but the drive back to Ndola was beautiful.
Prior to arriving here, my biggest concern about life in Zambia was the Police checks on the road and potential for corruption. My previous experience of these somewhat random road-blocks has been pretty negative. As a passenger, I’d seen random fines handed out by corrupt police (who, at the time, hadn’t been paid for a few months).
Anyway, I feared that we’d be stopped continually and that I’d regularly need to negotiate our way through ‘fines’ and need to pay my way out of trouble. Consequently Melissa and I pray fervently every time we see the tell tale barrel in the centre of the road and the sentry Police officer instructing traffic to slow to a stop. The monologue that keeps coming to mind at these times is voiced by Obi-Wan Kanobe; “You don’t need to see his identification. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for…He can go about his business. Move along.” and to date, the combination of prayers and Jedi mind tricks seem to be working. We’ve been stopped for licenses once and all other times we’ve simply been waved through. Thank you Jesus!
This week I accompanied 24 children from one of the schools I’ve been volunteering at, on a residential weekend of adventure at Ndubaluba. It was a fantastic time, with the children taking part in a wide range of team building activities that would have caused heart failure to the risk adverse. Children climbed, canoed, went on night walks (with one torch between 10!), waded through shin deep mud and swung over ponds… all with a broad smile on their dirt-smeared faces. There were many times when I couldn’t help but think as to just how many Risk Assessment forms I would have needed to complete had this been a in the UK. It was a wonderful insight into the childhood that Jacob could have if God keeps us here for as long as we envisage. Exciting stuff eh?