26 November 2018

This day will go down as one of the most memorable days I’ve spent in Zambia. The plan was to stay overnight at Makhasa village in a very basic house and for Max, our gap year student to supervise and plant 50 Moringa trees while Nick and I continue visiting orphan families. Challenge one was to supervise the logistics of an overnight stay with basic facilities eg they both seem surprised when I packed a toilet roll for use in an outside toilet. Having unloaded for our stay, rigged some sonar lights, had a bucket of water delivered for washing and made our beds then Mr Khunga led us to the gardens to prepare and brief for Max’s project planting Moringa. Nick, Stephen and I then set off to visit our remaining orphan families.

Granny in front of her house before repairs.

As we left Makhasa village Stephen spotted one our granny guardians sitting on the step of her house off our planned route so we detoured and oh what a distressing situation we found. She and our orphan Kezias had been completely flooded out by the rain I referred to earlier. Nick had never been into such a poor thatched roof dwelling and Stephen and I were simply left speechless and that’s saying a lot. I made a decision that as we were expecting another storm that evening we could not ignore their dire straits and therefore turned about and headed for Chipata to purchase two large tarpaulins which we could put on the roof to make it water tight. Three hours later and dear Mr Khunga having gathered a team of villagers standing by to re-thatch the house with a layer of grass, tarpaulin and then grass. All done as yet again the thunder clouds and darkness descended.

It was back to the house to have our Zambian dinner of nshima, chicken and cabbage prepared by the village ladies. As darkness descended the fun began. Creepy crawlies of all sorts and sizes started to appear even though screens have been installed and this is always the case when the annual rains have broken but I must confess the number and diversity amused me. We then had an appointment for a night meeting with a three child orphan family about half a mile down a bush track and so we set off in single file, Stephen leading with Max complaining Stephens torch was destroying his “ night vision”. He has just completed his military training! We found the family having their evening meal lit by one small torch all sitting in a circle. Business concluded it was a night Patrol back home. This was when the real fun began. Chewing the cud on our enclosed verandah and much jumping about because of the creepy crawlies Nick quite calmly pointed out a snake was moving along a wall of the room. WELL, Stephen went into orbit for Africans are renowned for their fear of snakes and you would think my two white companions were equally traumatised. Trying to maintain a semblance of calm I happily shooed the snake out of the room but in doing so a big hunting spider (completely harmless) decided to get in amongst the party. I’ve seen nothing like it albeit Max had the presence of mind to keep recording the entire excitement on his phone. It goes without saying getting every one to bed after this was a challenge and it was a pretty restless and very hot, humid and sleepless night.

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