On a Saturday, it’s an important time to visit the homes of our orphans, to catch them while they’re not at school. So Saturday means an extra early start and a very full and active day in the field.
Setting off to the outer edges of the Mnukwa Chiefdom, our first stop was a prospective new orphan for the programme, eager to get to school, but unable due to the severe poverty in her village. Her father has passed on and her mother is partially-sighted so the family struggle significantly to get by. The desperate need for help here was obvious. We took a lot of notes on this young girl and her brother so that the Zoe team can look into a new sponsor pairing for them both. As we left, Claire also bought a bunch of bananas – for just 1 kwacha (about 7p!) – more on these later…
We drove from there to see one of our families with a girl and a boy under sponsorship. Vibrant young things very much enjoying school (Science especially). And very fond of Stephen – on seeing him they ran down into his arms. Chris and Amy took the opportunity of that energy and cheer to introduce the village of Funsam’tima to Frisbee. And they took to it with finesse – what strong throwing arms! We left the frisbee there (along with some sensible provisions for the kids too, of course) certain they’ll get great enjoyment out of it in their fantastic open spaces. We have a few more frisbees to hand out too so perhaps we’ll even start a new Zambian trend.
Nearby lives another of ours with his uncle, grandfather and cousins. As well as the usual check-up, Stephen was very excited for us to visit the uncle’s nearby plot of ginger and aubergine. He describes this plot as a bit of a star within the agricultural projects, and plans to show it off to others as a fine example of the potential that can be achieved with the right attitude and a bit of elbow grease (not to mention the most incredible views of the surrounding hills for inspiration!) The crop was indeed impressively full and lush and the great care taken with the crops was clear. For example; due to the harsh sunlight at this time of year, each ginger plant was dressed with dried grass at the root, held down with large stones, and this helps keep the moisture in and the bulbs plump and growing. The ginger will be ready to harvest in a couple more months and he should make a good income from his hard work, which is really encouraging to see. It was fortunate that we had with us a scarf for his favourite team – Manchester United – which went down really well as a gift of appreciation.
We took the infamous ‘Victoria Road’ from there to see more of our families, then another prospect, another young girl and her brother. Their amazing 86yo grandfather was a very eloquent English speaker and told us of his belief in education as the future and way forward for his family and village. The head man in the next village had the same attitude, particularly about English fluency which he described as “the passport to all subjects” (at secondary school, all lessons are given in English). They were incredibly grateful for the support, and we should be very motivated to have this coming from such wise and experienced individuals. Just imagine what sort of change they’ll have seen in their villages and country over those 80 years.
On the way back, having checked in on 9 of our sponsored orphans, 4 new prospective orphans, 3 wells, a school and more besides, we pulled up for an impromptu picnic, deep in the bush. Peanut butter and jam sandwiches, with ginger nut biscuits (Stephen’s favourite), apples – and the bananas bought in that first village. As you may have heard, some bananas out in Africa taste very different, more similar to the artificial banana flavour we’re used to in our sweeties; but these were very much like the bananas from home.
We’ll need this energy for another big day tomorrow; after church, it’s off out to the field again, hunting for more of our kids before they’re back to school on Monday.