Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Not work related

As I am just about to set off on another whirlwind tour of the Southern Province (a bus load from the Copperbelt are making the 10hr drive to participate in the Sorghum growing festival, a small celebration of the farmers and cooperatives that grew sorghum last season, with cash prizes and t-shirts being given to the highest producers) I thought I would post a quick note.

Once I get back, the Copperbelt Sorghum team is diving in to production training, which means heading out into the feild and talking with farmers bout the key steps involved in growing sorghum this coming season. I am not an agricultural specialist, nor a fluent speaker in Bemba, so my role will be minimal. Ideally, we are simply encouraging farmers to grow sorghum and facilitating linkages between farmers and the government agricultural extension officers as well as agricultural input suppliers (all whose expertise far surpases our own on the topic of sorghum production).

Anyway, I was side tracked from my main topic which was to share my weekend with you. I had promised to take the kids (Chileche, Chisanga, Makuka and Joseph) to the park. (Just a reminder Chileche and Chisanga are Mary's kids, Joseph and Makuka are cousins). So we set off on Saturday afternoon and to save precious kwacha (local currency) we piled Chileche on to my lap and Chisanga on to Josephs - which meant we only had to pay 3 bus fares instead of 5 - good deal! I will have to take a picture someday of the minibuses, some of you may be able to imagine what they are like. For those that are unfamiliar, imagine a mini van or westfalia type vehicle with 4 benches behind the driver and 4 people squished on to each bench. Yup that's 16 folks in the mini bus, not including the driver and 2 passengers on the bench beside him.

So we arrived at the park and proceeded to play...what else do you do in an amusement park?

Sunday, I headed to church with Mary and Chileche because the bishop was coming to visit and it was going to be an exciting service. I was not dissapointed, lots of singing, dancing, yoddling, drumming not to mention extreme heat and loads of people. I gave up after 2 hours, the service was 4 hours!

Hope everyone is well as things start to cool off in Canada (things are heating up over here!)

I am having trouble uploading photos to my blog, but I have updated my web album (follow the link at bottom right of this page).


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Next Ndola Update

Well that was a bit of a longer break than I thought. It is a fact of my new life that things don’t go as planned, so this is my warning that postings will not be regular or necessarily as frequent as promised! After my last post I spent a week in Ndola, getting to know my new family and entering the names of the roughly 1000 farmers who have volunteered to receive free seeds from CARE and grow Sorghum this next growing season. I also was frustrated with the spotty Internet connection at the office. (ongoing frustration that I will just have to get used to).

It turns out Mary’s son Chisanga was in the house all along…I had understood he was a cousin! Oops. Anyway, I think I have the family sorted out… but don’t ask me to explain the family next door, according to Mary there are 14 kids (not to mention several dogs and a radio that is never turned off)! Please check out my web album for more photos. Chileche is 8 and Chisanga is 11 and I am really enjoying living with them! It’s a bit of a hike to the office (20 min minibus ride) but otherwise it’s pretty cushy. I am eating dinner with them and generally hanging out. Everyone speaks English but is trying to help me learn Bemba.

I was only able to stay for 1 week with the Malauni’s before I headed back to Livingstone to join Thulasy and her gang in a post harvest survey. We had a very interesting time interviewing farmers about their harvest last season (planting is done when the rains comes in December-January and the grain is harvested in May-June). She and I spent two nights with a family in the village. (see the web album for more photos). I also learnt a bunch about witch craft, polygamy and food aid. They all exist in Zambia and the debate continues as to whether they are good or bad or somewhere in the middle.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

First Days in Ndola

I have arrived!

Just over a week ago I said good bye to Thulasy and Josephine (what was left of my EWB support crew) and caught a bus from Livingstone at 6:30 am, arrived in Lusaka at 1:00pm and then proceeded to drive the 4hrs up to Ndola with the Sorghum team’s project manager Evans. We made it to town after dark and just in time for dinner and sleep. The next day I was able to contemplate my future home. Ndola is a very developed city, the second biggest in the Copperbelt Province, with wide boulevards, trees and green spaces. CARE’s office is located in the Development House near the center of town.

CARE's office is in the Development House

My first few days in Ndola were spent with Evans and the rest of the Copperbelt’s Sorghum team (which consists of myself, Sunday and Romanohs). We are working in parallel with the Southern Province’s Sorghum Team (Thulasy, Whyson and Silvester). We met with several cooperatives to explain the Sorghum Project (also know as SMEP – Sorghum Marketing Enterprise Project) and leave volunteer registration forms with them to fill out.

Sunday, Romanohs and Evans did most of the talking, but here is me talking about SMEP's partners with the help of a co-operative member/translator.

Since arriving I have been staying in a dorm room at Nortec – a technical college. It has been fun, with my own room, an awesome shower (communal) and a constant stream of visitors to help me with Bemba and chat about life. The proper school term is starting on Monday and the school needed my room, so yesterday I moved in with Mary Malauni and her two children. Mary is a schoolteacher, whose husband passed away several years ago and who lives just around the corner from my colleague Romanohs in a suburb called Mushili Kansengu. I have my own room in the 3 bedroom bungalow and there is an indoor toilet and shower (!). From what I have gathered so far, water is available most mornings but not in the evenings. So the family fills a large barallel with water for use after the taps don’t work. It is really very comfortable and with my mosquito net set up I feel like I am sleeping in a royal chamber. Mary is super nice and I haven’t met her children yet as they are away on holiday but I have met her neice, who lives with them as well. I am really pleased with my new living arrangements and will post some pictures soon.

Some of the students at the college.

Hope all is well!