It is almost 2 months until I travel to Africa again but I woke up at 5:30 am this morning feeling as excited as if I was leaving tomorrow.
I am going back to Zambia to see Njamba and his family for the second time.
This time his mother Simutumwa and twin sister Ngebe will not be there but we will meet his father Dominic and two brothers. The header of this blog from left to right, Mutiowa 14yrs, Kufuku 21 yrs, Mwualuka (interpreter/Councillor), Carl and Njamba 17yrs. They always seem to look so serious in pictures. I am not sure if it is due to the fact that it is a sign of respect to look down when talking to an elder or if they are posing for the picture. I think Njamba is posing in a lot of his photos as he always does some thing with his hands. We do have some where they are smiling which will come later.
Just in case you haven’t read my first blog I will give you an update.
I started sponsoring Njamba, then a ten year old boy, through World Vision in 2005. He lives in Western Province, Zambia, in a small village in the Barotse Plains near Liuwa Plains National Park. These plains flood every year so it is basically impossible to get there by road from the capital city of Western Province from November to May depending on the rain fall.
In Zambia the government will allow you to use the land to build a grass hut and live off the land but if the government wants to use that land you have to move. Often when the rains come people have to move as the area they have built on floods. There are villages scattered in all rural areas of Zambia and from my understanding a village constitutes a family. The grandparents, parents , children & grandchildren all live in an area of huts. They have boys and girls separate sleeping quarters, a cooking tent, a social tent etc. Sort of like a house only the rooms are not attached to each other. The next set of huts you see a long the road is another village and there are many.
I took many things and these are a few items. A chisel set, saw, tape measure, material to make quilts, wind up flash light, battery operated flash light, notebooks, harmonica, clothes, soccer balls, pots, a blanket, corelle dishes and a mattress. They sleep on the ground.(see last years blog , Gifts to earn extra money)
I took 75lbs of stuff in two big suitcases.
I am going back again this August and my focus will be education.
Carl, my husband is coming with me this time so he will see what I have been obsessed with for the last year.
To say that it has been a lot harder to organize this trip is an understatement as I do not have the help of World Vision.
While researching my trip I came across a blog from Kimm who’s husband is working with the Ministry of Agriculture in Zambia. Kimm & Thom are originally from Michegan and are living in Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia, for an 18 month period.
Kimm’s blog( Letters from Lusaka) http://kimmxjayne.wordpress.com/ was so helpful describing life in Lusaka it took away much of the anxiety of traveling to another country. Kim has since moved back to Michigan so you will have to look back in her blogs to learn about Lusaka. She is quite a comedic writer and well worth the read.
Here is a letter explaining in a nut shell what has happened trying to arrange this trip.
Hi Kimm & Thom,
Well, So much has happened in the last little while.
On June 6th I called Max – I am sure you know, but just in case , he was the driver who drove me to Kalabo last year- to tell him I had some business cards etc. made up for him here in Canada. He didn’t sound well and he told me he had a cough. I asked if he had gone to the doctor and he said he wife was looking after him as she is a nurse. He said he would be fine.
It was quite difficult to understand him as he was so weak, but he said that he would email me the name of a friend of his who could arrange a 4×4 from Mongu to Kalabo.
Jami came with me last year.
He was not sure if his 8 seater bus would be able to handle that road. They had completed ( supposedly) the new construction on the road for 13K, but understandably, he was not sure if the rest would be done by the time I got to Zambia.
75 K from the Angolan boarder. You have to drive on 75K’s of sand and dunes from Mongu west to Kalabo north of the Kalahari desert and often there is water on both sides. Details to follow.
The next day I received the email to contact Frederick so I called him. It turns out he was the driver in the second vehicle who drove the family back to their village after our visit. I remember him perfectly as he came to the window of the WV vehicle and held my hand as I was crying after just leaving Njamba. He no longer works for World Vision as he was also laid off when they closed the project where Njamba lives.
He said he could arrange for Carl & I to pick up a car in Lusaka for 5million Kwatcha, which I have since priced and it seems reasonable, and Carl has an international license so he can drive us to Mongu.
Then Frederick will take us to Kalabo.
I called Max back on Mon. June 11th to tell him that I had spoken to Frederick and a friend of Max’s wife answered the phone. I asked if this was Fair, his wife and the woman said , Fair is doing OK. I asked if this was Max’s phone and she said yes. I then asked if I could speak to him and she said” No, Max passed away on Saturday.
I was dumfounded, and said that I had no idea and to tell Fair that I am so sorry.
( I cried many times over the next few days)
That same day I received an email from David- the guide who still works for World Vision- who was going to travel with his wife Grace, Max, Fair, Carl & I to Kalabo for a vacation. David was thrilled to be able to spend a few days with his wife as he works away from her most of the time.
David informed me that because he still works for World Vision he will not be able to have any contact with me at all unless it is approved by WV Canada & WV Zambia.
The head office here has told me that they promise the families that no one will contact them after a project has closed and I am not to have any contact with David.
So in one fell swoop I have lost our driver, guide and two people whom I thought were my friends.
David has almost lost his job over this and I have been sick with worry that I may have caused this. He is still working for them so I will not contact him for fear of him losing his livelihood. He has three sons he is trying to put through school.
I have emailed Fair to send my condolences but I am not sure she will check Max’s emails and respond to me. I have all of this marketing material for her which is now redundant. Magnet signs for the doors of the Bus, magnets for your fridge, hats, T-shirts, business cards.
So thank you for letting me know about your furniture moving and for emailing the High Commission of Zambia confirming we were visiting you.
I just spoke to Frederick this morning and he is meeting us in Lusaka and will drive us to Kalabo to meet the family again. He has finally spoken to Mwauluka, the interpreter who was with us last year and the family have agreed for me to come. I wanted to ask if it was OK that I pay to send their son to boarding school.
I hope things are well with you and Thom.