Posted on February 28, 2014
A photograph of subsistence farmers, and my friends, in Mwinilunga district, Northwestern Province, Zambia. They hand cultivated the entire field you see behind them. It was a 25km bike ride to get there, it is impassible by vehicle. They will collect the corn and take it back 25km to sell it on the roadside.
Posted on April 27, 2013
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.
Posted on November 8, 2012
Posted on November 3, 2012
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.
Posted on November 3, 2012
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.
Posted on October 31, 2012
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.
Posted on October 31, 2012
Every night I have dinner at the Malichi’s house. They are teachers and the husband is ingenious at rigging up a whole house by solar. We watch tv during hot season because there is enough sunshine to watch at least a one hour or two hours of a tv show each day through their satellite dish. They tend to be Mexican or Venezuelan soap operas dubbed into English. When the power runs out we use our solar lanterns to sit around and talk and last Friday I chose to take some pictures with the lanterns.
Posted on October 27, 2012
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.
Posted on August 25, 2011
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.
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.
Posted on April 27, 2011
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.