End of Term and Malaria Season in the Village

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Madam Malichi, grade 3 teacher, gives a literacy test to her 50+ students at the end of term. One of her students, pictured first, is sick with malaria. He slept on the sofa for the whole day waiting to be escorted home by an older brother. Many times children come to school when they are ill with malaria rather than stay at home alone. During term one, rainy season, malaria rates are incredibly high. We lost two school pupils, a grade one student and grade seven student.

I often received the statement, “but in American you are lucky, because you have no mosquitoes there.” This was made by Zambians, but even most Americans don’t know that malaria was once a serious problem in United States. The CDC was founded in 1936 specifically to deal with malaria and a campaign begun in the late 1940’s introduced DDT and by late 1949 the US was declared malaria free. If you have time you should check out the PRI coverage of malaria in America. They even include a Times magazine advertisement saying “DDT is good for me!”

Interesting history lesson for us, but is it realistic at all for  government in Zambia? The US campaign to eradicate malaria included draining swamps in the South and building sewers and storm drains in towns. People in mosquito prone areas of the South were very receptive to the idea of spraying inside homes and complied. I wonder if Zambia can manage these infrastructure changes and changing attitudes as currently people are not receptive to spraying inside of homes.

Around 2006 Zambia announced a massive program (with big funding from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other partners) to try to roll back malaria. Malaria Control and Evaluation Partnership in Africa (MACEPA) has the ambitious goal of rolling back malaria infections by 75% in Zambia. It would be interesting to evaluate how successful this campaign has been.

My House

Sunset at my house, Solomon is the son of one of my teachers and he is building a fence for my garden. It should be done by the time I get back. There is also a picture of my kitchen that is now sealed up and a chicken I transport in my backpack.

Mujila Farms – Pig Butchering

The first day of the training at Mujila Falls Farm we organized a tour of the training center and butchering a 150 kg pig. In Zambia some things are done differently, unlike the picture above where we inserted the knife into the heart of the pig so it bleeds out immediately, most here bludgeon the pig or slit its throat. They also don’t hang the pig and remove the fat, which can then be rendered down into salatie. This pig produced 20 liters of salatie, buckets of pork rinds and several kgs of meat.

Once the oil is rendered, we pour it into bottles and collect the fried pork skins into a bucket.

Mujila Farms Training – Composting demo

A few weeks ago we organized a livestock training at Mujila Falls Farm. It involved about 13 volunteers and 14 community members learning about livestock and the integration of those animals in small scale farms.

We did a lot of different activities like butchering a pig, skinning a rabbit, composting and much more. These photographs are of the composting demo were we had the community members and peace corps volunteers build a compost pile. The session was taught by Larry Maurin and ended with a tour of Paul’s garden which included strawberries, black berries, comfrey and swiss chard.

The compost is a mixture of greens, browns and manure over a base pile of sticks. The sticks, shown below, provide air flow in the pile and over time degrade into the manure. Over each layer we sprinkle water on the manure to keep the pile moist.

Boss

Boss, pictured above and below, is the Peace Corps house dog. He keeps us company and protects the house. He also makes lovely photographs. Kato is new to the house and keeps Boss company, or makes him jealous, just depends.

The next few are Peace Corps Volunteer village pets. Ridiculously pampered with kapenta, nshima and at times some salatie . . . The kitten in the box was being transported, so no need to worry about that kittens situation.

Mmmmmmmasenda and other tasty food in the village

This is the time of year, at the start of the rains, when children run into the bush to collect different foods. Below are masenda, like a big grasshopper, that children skip school to go dig up. In some villages, very few up here, they eat a large bat called chinguzu. A dried version that sold for US .40 cents is shown below. Lastly my garden produced two baby pineapples and my chicken Bryan Watkins now produces kidney bean looking eggs. She/he has huevos chuecos and I hope he reads this and asks about it.

Measles Vaccination in Samuteba

Two weeks ago our clinic officer and a mixture of World Vision workers came and collected as much of our school as they could manage (in the end about 341) for mandatory measles vaccination. The government of Zambia has been focusing on getting children in districts neighboring Angola and DRC to prevent its’ spread from our neighbors. Children were piled into classrooms, listed, then class by class taken outside and lined up for vaccination. I have never seen so many stoic children, very few cried or even flinched. These were the best reactions.

Updates

I just finished a long stretch in the village, maybe three months, just within my district and neighboring Ikelenge. No trips to Solwezi or Lusaka or to other provinces and by chance no internet (since it is out in our BOMA). Instead I spent a lot of time riding my bike around and visiting other volunteers, including a 270km ride around the province on some backroads to visit volunteers. I’d like to shoot for another long stretch, but that doesn’t seem likely as I’m getting a wonderful visit from my family and heading up to visit friends in a week or so. Tentatively trying to plan a trip for Ethiopia in December as well.

This was our route and a picture of the Chitunta plain and the Lewakela river where we crossed both on a random bush road.

At one point in Matonchi, Ryan Kenny’s village, we came across a man who excavates rocks and crushes them to sell to construction workers in the BOMA.

When we arrived after the longest day of cycling (85km) at Kelondu Village to visit Larry Maurin his family had slaughtered a goat for us.

We spent one day visiting the rapids of the great Zambezi River at Kaleni Hill area and visiting volunteer, Kinsie Rayburn. Below is our friend Alex, from Lusaka, visiting literally and figuratively as far from home as he can in Zambia. Being back in the village was relaxing, I’m including a few random photos at the bottom that I’ve liked although the majority of my pictures lately have been on film that I can’t include . . .

One of my PCV neighbor’s host brother cycled 15km to give me a small cage he had made with two little white eyed __________. I can only remember the first part of the name. They both died within thirty minutes of going into my house, which I only regret more for not releasing them straight off. The cage is pictured below.

Mr. Kabwita, my counterpart, in his fields.

A little girl washing dishes for a teacher at Ikonga School in the bush of Ikelenge

A random kid photograph . . . this was when he was in my lap and still too little to realize I am terrifying and to start crying.

Cassava leaves.

Lunch.

Scrawled on a chair at Mukinge Girls Secondary School. While it is most likely a mistake in grammar, I like the different meaning the phrase gets for omitting one ‘s’.

El Jardin

We’re beginning hot season, a joke compared with Arizona and Sudan, and I’m still sleeping with a wool blanket at night. I’ve still been working with my garden and every day it is looking better and better but the health of the garden is in relation to the amount of water I’ve been having to draw. Currently I’m drawing 80 to 100 liters of day for myself and the garden. The majority is for the garden, since to shower, what I drink and to clean the dishes in one day is less than 10 liters. It is a draw of 50 liters a time, twice a day. I’ve been using the bicycle and strapping a container to the back and walking it. Sometimes I carry it on my head (it just really is easier) but to the Amamas amusement I’ve dropped it twice and once on my thigh. Regardless it is a lot of work just to water much less composting, aerating, etc. But it provides me with a tangible results of my work.

I know when I return to America I’ll be gardening since I’ll have a hose . . . it will just make it so much easier.

I’ve been growing a row of lettuce, which recently began to go to seed, a row of cabbage and kale for the leafy greens. The canteloupe and cucumbers, pictured first, are developing really well. For seasonings I have cilantro and basil, one small rosemary but the rosemary and parsley never seemed to get very far. There are a few carrots and onions, tomatoes and scattered pumpkins. I transplanted some small celery and green peppers but they’re struggling. A lot of what I’m doing is with advice and guidance from my neighbors and other volunteers so in some cases it’s a good way to do something, sometimes it’s an ineffective way.

I’m also working on building a chicken house for Heather, pictured below, and her one chick (remaining out of 7 hatched and 14 laid) Caeser. Vanessa is sitting on six eggs . . . trying to finish the house and outdoor area for the chickens so I can keep the new chicks there when they hatch.

Second Site Visit

During second site visit we stayed with Maria, a volunteer in Eastern Province. It falls between the first two weeks you are in country and gives you an opportunity to see what site is like. I went with Richard, April, Sarah and Musi. Sarah unfortunately left early, but April is going to be placed within my province.

We were able to visit Maria’s school and the classroom that she works in. The photo above is their meeting area and the one below of the classroom of the teacher she primarily works with.

We spent time collecting water, starting a brazier, just getting a feel for village life. Maria’s site was wonderful and her community was really interested in helping teach us. They showed us how to kill a chicken and how to prepare it, which was a first.

Sunset over the fields in Jakobo Village in Eastern Province.

It’s funny because if you asked me if I thought that I would make it three months in and be ready to settle in my village I would have said no, if only because I miss my family and I miss Sudan more than I ever would have thought. After three months I’m really starting to enjoy my new home, my new language (which is slowly and surely replacing Arabic) and I hope it just continues down this road.