Category Archives: sponsoring a child

Zambia Africa 2012′

June 28/12

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 went last year to meet him for the first time and my main goal was to take items that he could use to make extra income. His parents are sustenance farmers who grow maize & rice.

left to right, Mamma, Me, Ngebe( Twin sister), Njamba, Mwauluka( interpreter)

 

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.

June 27,2012

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.

Max, Jami & David

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.

Sample of the road from Mongu to Kalabo

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.

Thanks again,

Joanne

I don’t want to go, but I have to go.

We arrived back at the guest house and I returned the pots we had borrowed to carry our lunch. Njamba, Ngebe & Mamma retrieved their, now three suitcases out of their chalet.

The only place to sit was three logs in the shade along side a new building being constructed on the grounds.  I stood up and went to buy us some bottled water, as we hadn’t had anything to drink all day. We all drank the water and I gave Mamma 300,000.00ZK (about 60USD) when David had gone back to the WV office to pick up something. She put it in her breast. You are not supposed to give them cash. Sorry! You sit there with a kind generous family who can barely afford to send one son to high school let alone 4 children and try not to give them any money. I wish I could have given more.

While I was returning the pots, more to have something to do, to prolong my stay, David interviewed Jami while Mwualuka, Mamma, Ngebe & Njamba sat on the logs. We were all just mingling like we were family, very comfortable with each other. I gave them all a piece of spearmint gum.

After David had interviewed Jami, he called me to stand in front of him. He started asking me about my trip and what was the highlight. I said of course meeting Njamba & his family and of course started to cry. My back was to Njamba and I am not sure how much of it her heard or understood.

Then David said “Lets hear from Njamba, his experience these last two days. Njamba was playing with a small stick and immediately put his elbows over his knees and his head down. I said” It ‘s OK he doesn’t have to speak, he is shy”. Mwualuka said “He is crying”. I immediately ran to him and engulfed myself over his bent frame and rocked him like a baby. We both cried. I tried to compose myself and said “I don’t want to go, but I have too”. Mwualuka repeated what I said in Lozi.

You could see the tears dripping to the ground from his hidden face. I said that I would try to come back but I didn’t know if I could. All the while he is rocking and saying nothing just wiping his eyes.

I said you can go back home and show all of you friends all the cool stuff you got. You can teach the little ones in your village and by teaching them you will learn how to teach.

It was a very desperate feeling as I knew that his vacation was over and it was back to reality.

I asked him for a hug and he lifted his head to do so and we hugged. I then sat on the ground in front of him and we both tried to hold back our tears, with out much luck.

David then interviewed mamma and Mwualuka and it distracted us a bit.

There was no getting around it but we had to leave. I seemed to compose myself and gave mamma a hug first, then Ngebe and Njamba last and of course started to cry again.

We loaded into the van with the rice and bananas. Luckily Max had a cold box ( cooler), in which he kept the now dead & plucked chicken and the fresh fish he had bought a long the way.

I sat in the very back of the van and waved out the window until I couldn’t see them any more. Blinking as I went, trying to see clearly through the tears as I am doing now trying to type this.

I think I was crying so much for many reasons. We really got to feel comfortable around each other in that short day & a half. Even though he did not speak English a lot, come to think of it he didn’t speak much at all, I think more out of shyness than anything, I know he could read English. When we sat waiting for our dinner the evening before he had read to me out loud the letter I had sent him in 2008’. I brought a copy to see if he remembered it and he did. I told him he read very well and he smiled and did that shy little roll of his head and shoulders.

We drove the short distance to the WV district office in Kalabo to pick up our luggage that had been stored there and for me to write a note in the visitor’s book. I could hardly express my gratitude, partially because I was crying, to WV for all they had done. Especially David & Max for ensuring we had a safe magnificent trip. David is a very talented, observant man who is totally dedicated to God and WV. Max is an amazing driver with strong convictions between right & wrong and also totally dedicated to God & WV.

I could barely speak to the driver who would be taking Njamba, back to his village. He held my hand through the window and I told him to take good care of him. David got a message on his phone later that they had arrived safely back at the village.

We drove home with the smell of fish enveloping the van. I sat in the seat behind David and Jami behind Max. I had a 2.5ft x 2.5ft, 6 inch wide box in front of me between the front seat and my seat. It had dried fish in it. I put my hoodie over the opening in the top of the box to help diminish the smell. My hoodie still smelled a bit like fish when I got home. I did not mind a bit!

We took a 6 hr bus ride to Livingstone to see The Victoria Falls the next morning but that is a story for another time.

When I arrived home in Canada I was so happy to see my Carl. All I wanted to do was sit with my best friend, have a couple of glasses of wine and talk. I really should have had a shower but I was prolonging it. I felt as if I was washing away Africa and wanted to hold on to it for as long as I could.

For all of the years, since childhood I have loved animals and wanted to go to Africa. This could not have worked out better. I got to meet Njamba and there is not a better African country I could have visited to fulfill my dream.

This is THE END, for now as Carl & I are going back in 2015′

Many thanks to all who have supported me in this venture as I am sure some were worried as I was originally going alone. Thanks to David & Max from World Vision , we were chauffeured, entertained, educated and most of all safe. I now have a new brother David and an uncle Max whom I will be keeping in touch with and will see again in 2015′

Thanks to Lynn Kozak and her mother for great gift ideas as Lynn’s mom was in Africa a couple of years ago.

Thanks also to my mother in law, Mardi Noble for all of my safari gear and plug transformers as she too has been to Africa.

Thanks Mom & Dad for teaching me respect!

Liuwa Plain National Park

It was now August 23, that last day of my visit with Njamba. I was up when it was still dark but the sun came up shortly around 6:00hrs. I had a shower and got dressed and sat on my little porch watching the chickens peck at the grass wondering which one was missing if we ate it for dinner the night before. I munched on some dried blueberries I had brought and threw a couple to the chickens but they ignored them. While sitting there I realized that my guests

probably didn’t have a towel so I took my wet towel and hung it over a chair in front of their chalet. A little later I heard Mamma & Ngebe talking so I knocked on the door and gave them my wet towel and some soap. I hope I didn’t offend

giving her a wet towel, but I think she understood.

Our driver Max & WV guide

 extraordinaire David showed up and we proceed to the pontoon boat to cross the Zambezi River towards the Liuwa Plains national park. We bought cream cookies on the way for breakfast and brought the left over’s (in the pots, stowed under the seats) from dinner the night before as our lunch. Jami & I sat up on the bench seats close to the driver and Njamba, Ngebe, Mamma, Mwualuka & David sat along the bench. Mamma was being bounced around so I told her to put her foot on the opposite bench to keep her in place. After lunch I told her to sit up front and I sat bouncing in the very back with Njamba. All the better to have those sneak peaks at each other. He was very shy and smiled a lot.

After confirming the names of who was entering the park as I originally thought Mr. Kazaka, Kufuku & Mutiowa were coming and now we had Mwualuka & mamma, we were on our way. We waited for the pontoon boat to arrive on our side for boarding. It was a rope pull pontoon and Njamba helped pull it back to the other side.

We drove for quite a while until we reached the park and started seeing animals. I had heard that the Wildebeest migration was no more as a lot of the animals hadbeen killed off. What a surprise. There are single male Wildebeest lying or standing about every acre ( see caption)

male Wildebeastacre or so. They stay there all winter waiting for the females in their heard to return in the spring. The females do a migration toAngolaevery year to warmer grasslands and return toZambiaduring the rainy season to mate & bear there young., Gideon, our guide with a big rifle, said that he was there the day before and there were only the males. We saw thousands. It was quite the sight to see. Big males running and encircling their herds to lead away from us. Dust filling the air like smoke. I am so fortunate when it comes to animals as somehow they are drawn to me and I them and I have had many special experiences with animals. We saw Zebras with foals mingling with the Wildebeest.

We spent a considerable amount of time parked about 30 feet away from a pack of about 10 Hyenas. They are nocturnal so they were lounging by a small water whole, basking in the sun. Gideon explained that it was best to keep quiet so they would not feel threatened and run and they would be used to the vehicle for future visitors to view. You can tell the difference between a male & female hyena as the females are bigger and keep their tails between there hind legs. They have the strongest jaw in the animal kingdom and eat the bones & all.

( see video) It shows black at first but please be patient. Thanks

There is a story in Lozi culture that the Litunga,( Lozi King) planted his walking stick on the plain where it grew into a mutate tree (palm tree). It stands all by itself on this massive plain where you feel like you are at the end of the earth. There are a few areas of trees you can see in the distance, but mostly flat grassy plain. The lions are in those trees.

We had our lunch by that palm tree. It was good to stretch our legs as we were in the vehicle from6:00hrs to3:00pm.

We saw many flocks of beautiful big birds called Fish Eagles but there are no elephants or giraffe in Liuwa as there are not enough trees.

We bounced and roared our way bay to the guest house with Njamba and I sitting in the rear of the van. We were sharing the little knob to lock the back door as something to hold onto as there were no handles we could grab. He was so polite and when we touched hands accidentally we both said “sorry”. Every time we went over a big bump, I would involuntarily squeal and Njamba would laugh. At one point I showed Njamba how to do a loud whistle with four fingers. I told him as I do with all the children I have taught how to do this “If you practice for one day straight you will get it.” David was great entertainment for us all by singing and telling us a true story of his encounter with a python when he was about 8 yrs old. Apparently a python will bite and hold on for dear life and then start to encircle you to suffocate you to death. David was walking with his dad and they stopped by a tree for his Dad to speak to someone. David sat down in the shade for a rest. His dad didn’t say anything but motioned David to come quickly to him. David did as his father asked and he had David jump onto his back. When David was perched on his dads back, his father pointed to the three metre python that was perched in the tree David had been sitting under. His dad proceeded to walk backwards, facing the tree until they were safely in the village. It was not until they were a safe distance from the python that David started to shake. He has a great respect for pythons now and was very grateful to God that he was spared.

I let them all look through the binoculars and showed Njamba how to take a picture with my camera. Mwualuka got to use the video camera and the result is quite comedic on screen.

David did a video in the van. He is very good at asking the right questions as he used to do video for weddings. He asked if I had a message for my husband Carl. I said” I Love You and miss you and wish you were here”.

World Vision

It turns out WV had trouble with the vehicle arrangements so we didn’t head off until around10:30hours but it allowed me to get three avocados right from the tree to take to Njamba’s family

avacados from Chaminuka

We had so much luggage and only a car, so fortunately a bus that had just dropped off some clients at Chaminuka took David & our luggage and Jami & I went in the car with Max.

We picked up the large 4×4 Hilux which was to be our day time home for the next 4 days, gassed up inLusaka and set on our way.

I was so excited to finally be on the road to Njamba.

Entering kafue National Park

We drove through the city and headed out onto The Great West road to Mongu. As far as I can remember, about an hour into our trip we landed at the gates ofKafueNational Park. It is a 225,000k.sq. land mass of African bush and we saw Elephants out of the van window. You have to say how many people are in the vehicle on the way in and they check on the way out if you still have the same number. Poaching is a huge problem in, I am guessing, all ofAfrica. There are no wild animals inZambia, apart from dogs that are really illegal to own, who roam free except in the national parks. The people have killed them all for food as there is little to eat in the bush. We saw lots of little villages, or clusters of huts a long the way. There is a little area of shops at each gate where you can buy bananas or peanuts in a plastic bag fresh picked. I noted that there were no dogs running after our vehicle at these stops which is due to the fact that the dogs would kill the animals in the park so they were not allowed and it was enforced.

It took us about 2 hrs to drive through the park going 120 K. I am so pleased that they have so many National Parks inZambiaand the Zambians are really trying to stop poaching.

Because we were behind schedule we were to stay in Mongu overnight and travel early the next morning to Kalabo. It took us about 6 hours to get to Mongu in total David and Max kindly took me to buy a mattress which I paid 270,000.00ZK ( $55.00USD) and then for dinner in a nice restaurant. David & Max ordered a T-Bone steak each & I wanted to save mine for our last stop on the trip at Pioneer Camp as they boasted the best T-bone inLusaka. I ordered steak pieces with fries & coleslaw. I felt bad for David & Max as I couldn’t eat mine. It was so tough & grizzly, and I rarely eat fries but they were good. David was so trying to take great care of us and I didn’t eat my meal.

Mongu was really booked up so we were only able to get a guest house that wasn’t the best, but I was closer to Njamba.

Mongu where we had dinner

Gifts to earn extra money,

Daniela is now 14 yrs old and was happy to help. Also a big thank you to Denise who is a dental hygienist and donated a bag full of tooth brushes, paste floss & tooth picks.

For all the family- winter & summer hats, tooth brushes & tooth paste, socks, Gummy vitamins, 48 pens, 3 boxes of crayons, 10 pencils & erasers, reading glasses and cases, small package of medical supplies and 2 suitcases.

Mamma- hand fan from Japan, pillow & fancy zippered case, hand soap, oven mitt, 5 pots, 8 each of plates, bowls & bread & butter plates ( Corning ware so they wouldn’t break), a Blanket, 3 recyclable carry bags, scarves, bath towel, laundry soap.

Dad- seeds, tarp

Nyambe-4 bars of rose soap, clothes for her children, and little balls for her children, stuffed animal.

Njamba- shorts, long sleeved flannel shirt, Basket ball jersey, 2 T shirts, multi tool, flash light and crank flash light, Chisel set with sharpener and holder to sharpen them, safety glasses, carpenter pencils, tape measure, harmonica, calculator, stuffed monkey, dictionary, Thesaurus, Atlas and times table flash cards.

Kafuku- calculator, shirt, saw, how to make a composter sheet.

Ngebe- sewing kit, material, hair bands, scissors, pins, quilt batting, pink T-shirt, green sweater, stuffed dinosaur, calculator, big rolls of thread, buttons, purse, cream, toiletry bag, gloves.

Mutiowa-soccer ball, pump, extra pins for pump, shirt, Blue jays bag,

About one month before my flight I met with a friend of mine and we were talking about her 19 yr old daughter Jami. She had completed college and was looking for work to no avail. Millie her mom said she really wanted to be a writer, especially re humanitarian issues but it was a hard field to get into. I was sitting again one morning, it is my best time to think, and I called Millie and left a message saying Why doesn’t Jami come with me. It would be company for me and a chance for Jami to write and maybe start her career. So with in two weeks she was booked on Ethiopian Airlines with me.

I sent Jami and her parents a list of what I thought the expenses were,  our itinerary and important phone numbers like the Canadian Consulate inZambia. We were all set and Carl drove us toBuffaloto catch our flight as it was less expensive that flying out ofToronto.

While I was doing my research aboutLusakaI happened upon a wonderful blog

( Letters From Lusaka)written by Kimm who lives inLusaka. Her husband Thom is working with the Ministry of Agriculture inZambiaon a two year contract.

Kimm’s blog was so insightful and entertaining that I read back through all of her blogs. I had never blogged before but I sent her a note asking her if she knew where I could get pots, plates, blankets and a mattress for my Zambian family. I had asked specifically what they needed and that is what I was told.

Kimm then put me in contact with Christy’s blog ( A thousand Words) who had been to Zambia the previous year with a group from World Vision.

Between the two of them I felt so comfortable and ready to go.

Kimm was kind enough to tell me about this amazing Lodge to stay inLusaka, which was conveniently 1 mile from where she lived. This saved me about $100.00 per night in accommodation fees. She also offered to take us to the Kamwala market the day after we arrived.

So with my two inexpensive suitcases I got fromValueVillage, with the intent to leave with Njamba, we checked in at the airport. I had stuffed a few more things into Jami’s suitcase last minute and her bag ended up 13 lbs over. It cost me $200.00USD. Apparently it didn’t matter how much I was over it would have cost $200.00 but at that point I wanted to take the world to them so I paid it. It was well worth it.

Hindsight being what it is I should have made all the people behind me wait in line while I took 13lbs out of Jami’s suitcase and carried it onto the plane. But as it was I was carrying a stuffed big purse, my camera & video camera bag, binoculars, my backpack with my clothes and a 3ft long tube of gum balls. It was the first thing I bought to take on my trip and I was bound and determined I was going to give them out in the village.

After 30hours traveling we arrived inLusaka. We had stop over’s inWashington, Addis Abba,Harareand finallyLusaka. After changing $2000.00USD into Kwacha, the driver form Kilimanjaro Country Lodge barely packed us & our luggage into his little car.

 

 

We drove through downtownLusakato the east end of town to a marvelous country estate. The owners Ann & Nick have a two year old so the property was geared to children which was lovely. They had miniature ponies for the kids to ride. Sand boxes and a cage with bunnies & guinea pigs. Ducks & peacocks and even a turkey. The food was amazing either on the patio or indoors and there was a good assortment of local art and crafts you could buy. It was the perfect place to get acclimatized to a new country as the staff were welcoming and spoke English very well. I loved their names. Innocence, Collins, Chamba, to name a few. We had a lovely meal and Jami went back to our room to re group while I sat and enjoyed the smell of the air and realization that I was inAfricaon the patio. Around 7:oopm the power went out. I had heard that this happened during peak hours to avoid blowing a transformer. I left my patio seat and walked in the pitch black to our room to make sure Jami was Ok. I met her on the path coming to find me. I went back to the room and lit my candle that I had brought for just such circumstances and found one already in the room. We lit that to save mine and I left her by candle light, doing her thing. It was luckily only out for about 15 minutes, but the restaurant and patio looked beautiful lit by candle light.

Kimm arrived right on time the next morning and enjoyed one of the wonderful cups of coffee prepared at Kilimanjaro. A true espresso café’.

 

After a bit of a delay as we weren’t quite ready, we headed off to pick up Margaret, a colleague of Thom’s and head off to the market. I bought 5 pots for Njamba’s mom and priced the mattresses. I didn’t buy one at that point as I had not heard back if it was Ok to strap it to the top of the WV vehicle. We then met two teachers Kimm had befriended inLusaka. For someone who lives in a foreign country Kimm sure knows how to make friends. I can’t imagine how many friends she has all over the world.