Despatch no 3 covering 20 and 21 May.
With dogs barking and wailing most of the night outside the compound there was never going to be a risk of sleeping in so we duly set out on time not long after dawn. With 18 family households hosting orphans spread over some hundred square miles of roads and tracks in such a deplorable state the challenge of seeing them all would test our best endeavours. I got back as it suddenly turns into night here (6 o’clock), have had a good shower and traditional Zambian meal of nshima (a thick porridge of maize meal), pumpkin leaves with ground peanut paste and some chicken pieces kindly prepared by Rachael, Stephens wife.
What a day. Remarkably nearly every family we called on was at home and we have knocked off 9 of our listed 18 families. At every call cane chairs or blocks of wood are rushed out for us to sit on and the children take their place on the ground along with their adult minders. It is a truly humbling experience and after the faltering greetings by myself in Chinyaja, the primary dialect in these parts, we get down the the business of how everyone is doing. We talk about the harvest at length, how everyone’s health is and then get the children to produce their last terms school reports. I try not to run it like an inquisition but a firm approach generally gets to the issues of poor attendance and why particular subjects in the reports are poor or otherwise. Stephen then takes charge and reinforces what the project is all about and reminds the children of their responsibilities to their generous donors. These children are really very fortunate as there are many more hundreds of orphans in the villages who are the truly disadvantaged. There is absolutely no state support here so if you fall on hard times we simply don’t understand what this means. On our final run home we called on a grandmother who is looking after three children. Suzie touched on her history which is briefly worth repeating. She started with 13 children of which 8 have predeceased her. Two of her surviving daughters live in the area and one of those has already lost her husband! On concluding our call she insisted on giving me a sack of recently harvested groundnuts and two pumpkins. As I tried to demur Stephen reminded me that it is a serious slight to do so and hence the picture you see is the present carrying party to the vehicle. There are so many tales this being but one example of these wonderful people in Zambia.
After such a long successful day yesterday I decided to take a break. The start was not very encouraging as I locked the only way into the house by lifting the handle on a ridiculous Chinese door. Luckily I’d left the key on a unit in the kitchen so what do you do? Yes burgle the house and hook the keys out! with a long plastic pole. Golf on the Chipata golf course at 8 with 2 friends from Zimbabwe, green fee £1.00 and personal caddie £3.00. There was a serious competition ahead of us made up of Indians and locals, all 8 of them! The church we attend here is 50 yards from the Golf clubhouse so having deposited my clubs at the back of the hall took my rather small plastic seat next to Stephen. Hardly settled my little seat was ceremoniously removed and a more substantial one produced. There are not too many “overweight” people here! Pastor Joffreys message was very fitting; the importance and value of deep faith rather than simply doing good deeds. Lunch consisted of avocado, tomato and onions sprinkled with crispy bacon – just like being at my golf club back home. Why I mention it is the avocados here are the size of melons and cost all of 10 pence and do at least 3 salad meals.
A visit to stock up on provisions, some work on the accounts and sending emails and the latest pictures to the orphan donors will see me out for today. God bless.