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.

Dinner

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.

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.

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.

Zambia is home

While this message comes a few weeks overdue, I am finally living and an alien resident in Zambia. In fact only two days remain for me in my provincial capital before I am taken to my village: Samuteba, Mwinilunga district, Northwestern Province, Zambia.

It is daunting, after so much training and traveling. I know I’m prepared for the time commitment, even if it has been a long time since I spent a consecutive two years in one place. I think what makes me nervous is standing on the verge of what will be my future home and work and I feel like I know so little about it. I feel like the picture below during staging in Philadelphia, just overwhelmed.

We’ve spent eleven weeks in training, specifically in the education system of Zambia and in the Lunda language, which is primarily spoken in the area I will be living in. Our training actually took place in Chongwe district and only a handful of people there spoken any Lunda at all. Most of our training involved living with a host family who taught us our language, about taking care of ourselves in a Zambian household. A lot of time was spent playing with kids, drinking with friends and doing whatever other random things came about.

I visited my site once before, below are some photos from the few days I spent there. When I arrived nearly 150 children and villagers surrounded the Peace Corps truck to welcome me to my new home. I was overwhelmed and feeling totally undeserving of all the kindness of the villagers, children and teachers. I think this time around it will be a lot more quiet and I’ll have more chances to meet with people in my community than the short five days I had prior.

The view from my window before the part of sunrise where there is sun . . . My area is always swept up in a deep fog in the early mornings.

Lastly my favorite photo of Lusaka, a city that is large and bustling but lacking a lot of charm, only in my opinion.