There are so many small stories attached to this trip and this is one of them.
In my year of research trying to set this trip up, as I no longer had David from World Vision to arrange everything, I read everything I could find on Kalabo & Western Province.
There is a group of doctors & nurses from Kelowna B.C. who train nurses in Mongu. I was reading their blog and asked if they knew if there was a doctor in Njamba’s village now that World Vision was gone and the government had taken over.
I did not get a response from them, but an amazing woman named Heather who lives in Vancouver sent me an email. She too had sponsored a child in Kalabo and when she heard I was going back asked if I could maybe look for him. She wanted to send me a few gifts to give to him if I found him but I said I had a lot of T-shirts and hats and I would find something to give to him.
She emailed me an older picture of him and I made an 8 1/2 x 11 copy and packed it with all of the other paperwork I was taking.
When I met up with Frederick I told him the story and as he used to work for World Vision he said he would ask around and maybe find him.
Well, to my surprise, Frederick came to me on Sunday and said he found him!
I thought to myself, What are the chances? Kawana and his sister were living with their grandparents as they had lost both of their parents and we were to go see them that afternoon.
I quickly put a couple of bags together to take to the family but I had given all the hats & T-shirts to my boys. I went to Njamba and told him the story and he gave me one of Dad’s golf hats to give Kawana and Carl gave me one of his T-shirts.
I wanted Heather to have a good idea of where Kawana lived so I took pictures on the way in the car and on the walk to his house. Here are the pictures.
The funny thing was that Heather knew even before we got back to Lusaka after we left Kalabo that we had found him. She had found Kawana’s Uncle Joe on Facebook and he had told her that we had been there. When we arrived at Kilimanjero On Wednesday evening Health, the manager came up to me and said. ” Joanne, this woman is trying to reach you. She has called me on my cell about 7 times today.” I knew immediately who it was and assumed that she wanted to know if we had found him. Health said” No she already knows”. Frederick was kind enough to let me use his cell phone as we no longer had ours and we tried to call her but couldn’t get through. About 1/2 hour later Health came to our table on the patio and said” Joanne, It’s her again! “We all laughed and I spoke briefly to a very excited Heather. Here is the email I sent Heather when we got home with the pictures of our visit.
September 4, 2012
Well Heather. We did it!
I showed Frederick your email and picture of Kawana and he asked around Kalabo and found him.
He lives in a house with his grandparent’s right in Kalabo.
Apparently his sister applied to be on the police force but was not accepted. I think she lives there with her baby girl.
Kawana is 15 years old now and very handsome with a beautiful smile. He is in grade 9.
Frederick, Dominic, Carl & I drove to there home. They invited us in and we sat in their living room on green couches with pretty white doilies over the arms and back.
There was one big couch and two big arm chairs and a coffee table. The furniture was clean but well worn. They also had a T.V. ( I found out later that they could not afford the electricity so they couldn’t watch the TV anyway)
The kitchen was off the living room and it looked to have two bedrooms but I didn’t see any rooms except the living room.
The grandfather answered the door and he was coughing as he has a bad case of asthma. I am sure all of the sand there doesn’t help. I asked grandmother as she walked us back to the car after the visit if he had any medication. She said he used a puffer 3 times a day.
The grandparents were tall and looked well fed. Grandmother is a buxom woman but Frederick said she is also in poor health. He said to Carl she is not big because she is healthy.
They both spoke English well and were very nice and happy to see us.
We entered the room with the grandfather and he asked us to have a seat and then Kawana came into the room.
I enthusiastically said” Hello Kawana” and gave him a hug with a few tears in my eyes.
He smiled and said Hello and he sat down in the chair beside me.
Grandmother then entered the room and sat on the arm of the chair across from me where Grandfather was sitting.
I explained that I came on behalf of Heather Neal and brought a few things. I looked directly at Kawana and said, “you know Heather Neal?”And he shook his head and smiled and said “yes”. He like all of the young Zambians is very shy and respectful.
I put the two bags on the coffee table and pulled out the base ball cap I had retrieved from Njamba as I had already given everything to him and his brothers. It was cream coloured with Golf written on it and it was from my father. He had sent about 10 base ball caps.
Then we gave him the T-shirt, donated by Carl as I didn’t have the heart to ask Njamba for one of the T shirts back. Carl asked him for a picture to take back to you and he quickly put on the T shirt for the picture.
Grandfather started coughing so grandmother got up and went into the kitchen to get him a drink of something.
I then explained that you live very far from me and I had connected with you through the internet and we email each other.
I even drew a picture quickly of Canada to show you lived on the west coast in Vancouver and I lived in the middle in Toronto. I told them I have never met you but you asked me to try and fine Kawana.
I was crying as I said this and was so happy that Frederick had found him.
I apologized and said I cry very easily and that they are happy tears.
The grandmother took my hand as I was crying to console me and said many times that she was also happy and thank you for coming.
I gave Kawana the 81/2 x 11 sized picture that you had sent me of him and they all laughed.
I asked Kawana how he was doing and he said fine as all of the people you meet there do.
The first thing he asked me was simply” Is she coming?”
It broke my heart and I know you are crying now.
I had to be honest with him and not give false hope so I said” I don’t think so”. I said you didn’t have a lot of money and it is very expensive to come here.
He looked so sad and I couldn’t help it and said” You never know, maybe she will save some money and come one day but I wasn’t sure.
I told him you send your love and I read some of the email you had sent to me. I showed them their names I had highlighted in yellow and they were thrilled that I knew all of their names.
Grandmother laughed and read the names on the page with me as I read them to her.
I told them that I had made arrangements with Liuawa Plains National Park to send mail to Njamba. Grandmother told me that they have a relative Ailola Lisimba who is a park ranger at Liuwa.
So guess what? You can send him letters!
Just send a letter to
African Parks Office ( Kalabo)
Liuwa Plain National Park Headquarters
P.O. Box 930094
Kalabo, Western Province
I think the mail takes about 3 months to get there, maybe longer but I am so pleased that we can write.
I also got their phone numbers for you but remember if you call them it costs them money. They have to buy air time so I gave Ester 50,000Kwatcha (equivalent to $10USD) so she could make sure she had air time when you called. I told them I was sure that you would call, probably early September. I hope that is OK.
I have no idea how you found out Uncle Joe’s number?
I told them we couldn’t stay long but I was so happy to meet them and thank you for welcoming us into your home.
We stood up to leave and I gave him another hug and said it was so nice to meet you.
I told him I was not back in Canada until Aug. 29th and I would email you as soon as I got home and to expect some letters from you.
I found out it costs 150,000KW to go to high school for one term in Kalabo and there are 3 terms per year.
That is 450,000kw per year and does not include boarding but Kawana doesn’t need that as he can walk to school.
That is equivalent to $90.00USD per year and I think it might be 20,000KW for books and uniform that will last for 2 years. Not sure about that fact.
50,000KW=10USD approximately but they are dropping 3 zeros off the kwatcha starting in January to simplify the monetary system over there so keep that in mind. There are no banks in Kalabo and at present Mongu is really hard to get to. You can see some video and read about that journey when I get the blog written. I will let you know when I have the first bit written and posted for everyone to see.
Grandmother then walked us to the car but Kawana didn’t come.
I think he was a little disappointed that he didn’t see you or maybe he was going through the bags to see what we brought.
Here is a list of what I gave them. Like I said I had already given everything to the Kazaka family but I managed to give them:
Just under 5kg of rice
1 granny smith apple
1 B ball cap
I T- shirt- Cadillac Racing
1 ½ red onion
3 green onions
1 white onion
1 bag of Worthers soft toffees
1 bag of mixed nuts & dried fruit
1 box of Roiboss tea bags (South Africa)
sm bag of red kidney beans
4 packs of sugar from plane
small travel size shampoo, cream rinse, body lotion, body wash
2 small jars of strawberry jam from plane (we got bumped to business class)amazing!
toiletry bag, 2 toothbrushes and small tooth paste
2 pairs of navy socks
So a miracle has happened!
Kawana looks healthy and when we stood and hugged as we were leaving I stood beside him and said” Wow he is tall”. They all laughed as I pushed myself beside him to compare our heights. He was a bit taller than me and I am 5’ 6”.
So we got stuck in the sand as we tried to drive out and had to get out of the vehicle and push. Nothing new as we got stuck twice on the way to Kalabo and once on the way back to Mongu.
It was a very enjoyable visit and I thank you for allowing me the opportunity to help another child in Kalabo.
You are an amazing woman and thank you for all that you do.
Looking forward to hearing back from you.
It turns out that Heather sent $200.00USD to Kawana through his Uncle Joe and has been in contact ever since. Now that’s a small world story!