Life in Samuteba

I just returned to Solwezi, our provincial capital, after a two and a half week conference in Lusaka. While it was refreshing to see all the familiar faces from training, it also felt like a sensory overload to be in Lusaka. I went to have Indian, Thai, Ethiopian food and paid more for one meal than I spend in one month in my village. I’m glad to be on my way back to my village though and ready to get back to work. At least the time allowed me to edit some of the photos that I had on my 5D camera before it broke completely.

The neighboring children in my area try to put out the flames of a fire headed for my chimbushi, or pit latrine. Burning during cold season and tweluka (lack of relish) season because the children can come the next day and dig the field mice out of the ground to eat. It is also just accepted as part of what happens during this season, each time I ask someone in the village they respond with different reasons for the burning so I can’t say it is just the field mice. The main problem is that when children set the fires, they often burn out of control (like this one) and many fields, banana trees, and even houses can burn to the ground. Worse is that everyone has an idea of who set the fire, but no one would tell you anyway.

Dry season also allows for time to build and the biggest activity of the season, aside from harvesting, is brick building and home construction. Here my community is starting to mold bricks for one of our new school blocks. The men tend to delegate themselves the task of mixing the mud with water and placing it in the brick molds. Women carry the water, which sounds easy, but when you are talking about carrying a 20-30L (weighing well above fifty pounds) container on your head for 500 meters they may have the harder job.


I had some school children mold me bricks as well, I’m going to build a small chicken shelter to house my hens. Unfortunately they’ve been living in my small house in the kitchen . . . I even created a chicken door for them to come in and out but it is clearly a bad idea to continue living with them in the house. The small chota pictured below is also my kitchen area. It looks as if the area has been cleared of all trees, and it has, but only 300 meters away you can be in bush and a few kilometers and you’re in beautiful, tall forested areas. Although I don’t know if that will last my whole service with the rate people clear trees here.

This is my little house, you can note the small chicken/cat door on the right
My chota, or kitchen hut, which the goats like to rest in. My mother sent me paintballs and a slingshot so I'm working on keeping them away.
My pride and joy, this is the nursery bed in my garden. I can't wait to see a tangible proof of my labors in the village.

I think I’ll be using the film camera for a while, until I organize a new digital. Somehow I think the film camera makes more sense in the village. People won’t stop what they’re doing to jump and look at the back of a film camera.

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