Saturday, January 22, 2011

day to day

I am many weeks late on my blog update. Nora has sent me threatening text messages and reminded me so often that she is now appearing in my dreams. So here is a look at what my day is like in Lusaka….

Road to the farm

Snack shop on the way to the farm

I wake up around 7 to the sound of the electric kettle boiling on the other side of my wall. We have cereal or toast for breakfast and I pack up and head out to the farm. It takes about 45 minutes to walk to the farm. I think I am supposed to get a bike soon, but we shall see. My favorite thing to see on my walk is the occasional pool game being played by some kids at a corner snack stop. They have made a miniature pool table out of cardboard and the bottoms of plastic bottles. They play with marbles. And they loved when I took a picture of them playing, they just couldn’t stop laughing!

Once I get to the farm I chat with Simeon, the Farm manager about what he has planned for the day and then we get to work. Recently we have come into some funding and were able to plow two acres. We are planting squash, cukes, watermelon, white pumpkin, sweet corn, Swiss chard, beets, carrots, peppers, cabbage, bok choy, lettuce, basil and cilantro. We may also be planting some sunflower to make sunflower oil, but it may be too late in the season. This is a first for Tiny Tim and Friends, to have veggies, so my goal is to see what grows well and what sells well. Then hopefully they can continue turning the farm into a fully functioning place, providing food for patients of the clinic and selling enough to keep the place running.

The farm is also inheriting goats, ducks, rabbits, and turkeys at the end of the rainy season. So I am working with the builder and the two parties involved in the animal husbandry training program in designing/building some animal structures that are cost efficient and long lasting. The idea is to train young people how they can raise animals in their homes and then bring them to market to sell. So far we have found a great market for the rabbits. The Chinese restaurants here just can’t get enough of them!

The gate to the farm

I connected with Peace Corps Zambia the other day so Simeon and I attended a training session on conservation farming, breeding ponds for fish farming and beekeeping. It was great to get some info on what kinds of things volunteers are promoting in their communities and some more Zambia specific details about farming etc… No one in PC is doing worm composting! Gasp! So I am hoping to get out to some volunteers sites to help them start worms. It would also be nice to get out of Lusaka for a bit.

Cukes and Squash

Next week I start teaching dance at the American school, and I have been volunteering at the Lubuto Library a bit, though we are seeing a need for more explanation of what a library is used for because at the moment I spend most of my time re-shelving unread books and making sure everyone signs in and no one steals other peoples bags. But mom is helping out so she will whip it into shape I’m sure.

Chamba Valley

Our social life revolves around the occasional dinner with the neighbors and usually a weekend brunch or dinner out to the Arcades shopping mall. I think it is safe to say we are enjoying our time but missing our friends. So I hope you are all well and enjoying the wicked winter!

Our garden at the house and mom in her chitenge

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Post Christmas thought...During the play presented at Mass on Christmas Eve (described by Bill in previous post), instead of Mary and Joseph finding no room in the inn, they found no doctors at the hospital who would help birth the baby because Mary and Joseph were poor people and couldn't afford the fee.

Mangoes and snails...In the night there is a thunk on the roof and then a plop on the ground as the mangoes fall from the trees.  As you can see, mangoes are plentiful to eat and even the snails like a nibble on their way to ?.

 The children come daily to collect the fallen mangoes.
 The large seeds litter the grounds and I am surprised
 there aren't more groves of mangoes based on the
 number of seeds on the ground.

The snails truly move at a "snail's pace".  The one below took over an hour to move less than 6 inches to reach the mango.

Birds and trees...The Zambian Ornithological Society has a checklist of over 5,000 bird species in the country.  A neighbor has identified at least 40 of them here on the Justo Mwale campus.  Dove varieties abound waking us each morning with cooing as well as a piercing hooting. Nora and I will participate in a bird counting event this coming Sunday.

And then there are the trees.  All the flowering trees are producing their fruits - not just mangoes but long seeds pods on the flame trees, small green lemons, bananas and all sorts of small nuts. Many of the these "fruits" are edible, some not, some tasty and others not. There is a grove of bamboo at the end of our driveway.  In the rain, the bamboo clatter and make hollow sounds as they move with the wind.

Update on teaching...I am told that classes begin this coming Monday, January 17.  On Friday I hope to see the schedule of classes, my assignments and maybe get a key to an office. Students are returning this week to register for classes after which the timetable is set. Everyone is greeting old friends, the new students look a bit bewildered - all reminding me of the first week of classes at St. Kate's. I am sure I look bewildered as well as I find my way to classrooms and lecture halls.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Our Festive Season

    The time leading up to and around Christmas and New Year’s Day is called The Festive Season, here in Zambia – at least in the news media and retail advertising. It was a quiet time for us. Our friend Jennifer Campbell, Lubuto Library Project’s volunteer from St. Charles IL, stayed with us both Christmas and New Year’s weekends. Besides being good company, she  helped a lot with meal preparation and household chores.

    I wish I had photos and sound from Christmas Eve mass at Christ the King Parish in Kaunda Square.  Two choirs, accompanied by guitar, bass, keyboard and traditional drums, filled the church with their full-throated sound. The singing’s power never ceases to move me, even though I don’t understand the words. It has the force of wind, moving the air, causing the very molecules to vibrate. Must be similar to what you’d feel inside a microwave oven. There was dancing too – both organized and spontaneous – and a sketch performed by young people.

    Mass started at 7 p.m. By 9 p.m., I fell to thinking about supper awaiting us at home. But no one, besides us, seemed eager for the liturgy to wind up. I suppose, if you don’t have a lot of food in the house, singing and dancing joyfully to the Lord is as good a way as any to spend the night. Mass concluded around 10:30 and we tucked into our Lasagna shortly after 11 p.m.

    On the day after Christmas and, again, on New Year’s Day, we held open house. It was good to see friends from Zebra House and their families and to meet our neighbors here on the Justo Mwale campus. All visitors brought their appetites and demolished the foods we had prepared. Our Cinyanga teacher Dennis Ndalameta also came to lunch on New Year’s  Eve, with his mom and dad, sisters, brother-in-law and other family members. In the evening, we went next door to the Ellingson’s for a brai (cookout) with American neighbors. We were home in time to watch the ZNBC countdown on TV and jump off the chairs at midnight.

- Bill

Dishing up the chakudya: Mary, Nora and Jennifer. Photo by Lebo

Eat and talk. Photo by Lebo

It's raining! Bring some chairs inside. Photo by Lebo

Mrs. Ndalameta gave Mary a Chitenge. Photo by Bill

Thanks for coming. I'll accompany you part way. Photo by Lebo

Eagerly awaiting the midnight hour. Photo by Lebo