Despatch number 2 covering 18 and 19 May.
Thursday 18 May.
Glorious sunshine on rising to an orchestra of house sparrows, raucous calls from a pen of quails (bred for consumption) and an African city coming to life – how much better can day two get?
And better it did! Quick prayers for a safe passage before departure we arrived at well no 6 90 minutes later thoroughly roughed up from the roads and tracks severely ravaged by the recent rains. It’s no wonder our Hilux is in constant need of repairs. It really amuses me when I compare our pot holes back home with the “sink holes” we have avoided today.
First port of call was Mwyzangulu and well 6. The compost experiment has worked, ginger is a couple of months away from harvesting, the cooperative made a good cash return from the early tomato crop and they are going to have the maize crop ground and sell it in due course. What is particularly pleasing is they are using the treadle pump and have set a new section of the field to carry out gravity feed irrigation which is a big effort saver. Onto the primary school where we are still waiting for a government teacher to be provided. The unoccupied school masters house is being watched over by a security man and the villagers are adding a small verandah which is a great enhancement. More bouncing about to the chiefs village and a short audience to set the agenda for this visit. While in the village caught up with man who runs the Hands Around The World skills centre who is making some furniture for the school. Finally to Makhasa village and Mercer kindergarten. The children were in fine voice with their welcome ceremony and a check on our gardens. The ginger crop is ready for harvesting so will confirm the market and price and set our second sale in place next week. I watched Mr Khunga baling some of his tobacco crop which, from my little knowledge looked excellent. The rains have been exceptional this year so the maize, peanuts, sweet potatoes, soya and to a lesser degree cotton have all done well. This bodes well for these very poor communities and I now look forward to catching up with all our orphans and assessing how they are faring.
Friday 19 May.
Our impending mission list for the day was not one that filled me with an iota of confidence. A series of arranged office calls on the powers that be generally results in immense frustration and abject failure. The government lawyer who deals with our legal affairs – OUT. The district education officer who promised a teacher – OUT. The supermarket manager who agreed to view and consider buying our fresh ginger – NOT AVAILABLE. Not yet too discouraged I decided to try a cold call on the Provincial big cheese in the education department who Stephen knows. Having waited in the corridor for nearly an hour, bingo! – we’re are ushered into a massive office signifying I had probably reached the holy grail. I’m was filled with joy on finding first, he is member of the church congregation where we attend, second he is a doctor of something, third he has been in touch with the chief on the matter at hand and finally is an excellent listener. I came away from the meeting after an hour with certainty the sun will rise tomorrow! We then had an appointment with the Zambian Information Service where Stephen had convinced them I was an ideal candidate to record a programme for national television on what my early life in Zambia and Chipata was like and film what we are doing in our small way with Zoe. This will be great free publicity for us and maybe get the attention of the government officials of our project.
Now feeling upbeat we ventured into “downtown” to purchase medical and school supplies for Mercers Kindergarten. Trust me there is nothing like Boots or Staples downtown so it comes down to a safari through the Indian emporiums on a treasure hunt. A samosa lunch on the hoof, to the the local market to buy some vegetables and back to the house to go on hold pending another attempt later in the afternoon to complete the days mission. The lawyer was still at court in the afternoon and we failed trying to complete a deal on the ginger as the person had gone home! As the rain arrived, which is most unusual at this time of year, we visited a traditional skills centre which on past visits has been a desert. At last there is now something happening and I will be returning with some very nice bits for sale to help sustain Zoe. Tomorrow is scheduled for departure at 7 to commence calling on the orphan families. Good night from a lovely cool evening on the verandah at Zoe house.