A second day in paradise. As the sun rose at 5.30, I found an African robins nest with chicks in a palm tree having watched the parents rushing back and forth in a feeding frenzy – what a way to start the day!!! ( I know you must be thinking I’ve caught too much sun).
The generator was delivered to the house at 7.30 this morning but sadly the crane platform could not set it down on the pre prepared platform due its size negotiating the tight angles in the yard so more to follow on this issue. It was then off to Mayzangulu village to assess the half built school house and meet the village council. Surprise surprise, not only the council were there but the entire communities that are serviced by the current grass hut school. We were ushered to chairs under the mango trees and the chairman of the council proceeded to announce the agenda for the day. This commenced with prayers from one of the village women and thereafter there were 8 further items to be discussed!! I will not bore you with the details other than we were given a full history of the school, what the academic achievements were, the issues they were facing (many as expected) and then I was asked to address the gathering as item 7. I explained how the money had been raised and what we thought we could do to finish off what had been a magnificent effort of self help by the community. This was followed by a site visit and then back to the mango trees to escape the blistering sun. At this juncture the traditional dancing commenced and for an hour Michael and I had the opportunity to speak with the village elders and enjoy this wonderful hospitality of villagers at the very bottom of the poverty scale. How they can be so content with how little they have is simply astonishing. The meeting closed with further prayers of thanks and not only were they very moving but given by a woman who looks after two of our orphan family.
It was then on to the other end of the Chief’s kingdom, an hour on seriously eroded roads from recent rains to see Induna (headman) Khunga. This is the site of our greatest farming success so far in the selling ginger and tomatoes but where we have commissioned a primary school kindly sponsored by Mercers Livery Company in London. Two toilets are near completion and the kids have a magnificent playground of swings, slides and see saws. Our ginger plot has quadrupled in size since my last visit and much more land has been cleared which currently is planted with burley tobacco plants waiting to be transplanted when the rains have set in. This village and the community are really laying down a marker of what can be achieved with a little help from Zoe. (Incidentally I’m not in the tobacco business!)
On our return to Chipata we have been seeking a solution for moving the generator into place and in the morning we will probably have to copy the Egyptian Pharos initiative of “rollers and live manpower” having failed, so far, to find a mechanical one.
Goodnight as I’m being attacked by mosquitoes while sitting on my verandah.