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.

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.

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.

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.

Philly Staging

We arrived in Philly, to snow and ice everywhere. Took a tour around and saw the famous liberty bell along with Independence Hall and saw a copy of the Constitution there as well. Overall it was a nice and snowy day . . .

And this one I just loved in color:

There Never Was.

“We weep over the might have been, but there is no might have been. There never was.”

 

Reading Cormac McCarthy’s Border Trilogy I found this quote. While placing it here, independent of its’ paragraph, page, chapter and book changes its’ context, as it stands alone I agree wholeheartedly.

I never quite find the push to do all the things I desire or dream over, but as I prepare to leave the US for Zambia with the Peace Corps much of my decision to go has grown out of this idea. There is no might have been, there never was and so I made the choice to go to a new country and community for the next two years.

I haven’t forgotten about Sudan.  I had a dream about El Obeid and my friends there. I plan to take the rest of my time in the states to post these photos and videos of my time there.