Monday, October 29, 2012

Life in Ndola

The realization hit last week...I'm older than Zambia!  The country (which was known as Northern Rhodesia in the dark ages when I was in school) gained independence in 1964.  We were invited to a fireworks display and honestly, we didn't expect anything but an enjoyable night out.  It was enjoyable - but so much more.

Armed with lawn chairs, beverages and an appetite, we arrived at a sports field along with 3,000 other people.  The event is supported by the Hindu community and several food stalls with fabulous Indian food drew us like a magnet.  Overhead, the annual bat migration was evident as huge fruit bats blackened the sky for an hour at sunset.

When the fireworks started, we expected it would last 15 minutes.  And it kept going.  Surely at 30 minutes it would stop.  And it kept going.  The skies were lit up in a rapid fire succession of fireworks and it was a spectacular display.  The total elapsed time was 50 minutes --- certainly giving any fireworks displays in the U.S. and Canada a run for their money.
I returned to the Ndola Lions School for the Blind to talk to the Headmaster, George Chisala, about the school.  Two groups in the U.S. are considering donations to the school and I needed to get additional photos and understand more about the school to pass along.  It saddened me to hear that students are blinded by illnesses such as measles (as was the headmaster, Mr. Chisala who contracted measles at the age of 8) and glaucoma that would be prevented or treated in other countries.

The kids go to classes in the morning, and in the afternoon they participate in sports, in the choral group or help in the fields or barnyard where pigs and chickens are raised.  As before, I was totally blown away by the confident way they walk in a dark world and of their abilities and strength that humble me.
The banana grove 
Layers and broilers are being raised.  As money becomes available, they'll increase the number of chickens to enable more to be used as food for the students.  Currently they get 2 eggs per week from the layers.

Headmaster, George Chisala is an inspiration to all.  He has overcome many challenges to become a teacher, and then Headmaster.  He initiated many of these projects in an effort for the school to be more self-sustainable.  As we were walking around the property amidst many obstacles, he just laughed when I asked him if he ever fell.  Good grief -- I have challenges staying vertical and I'm sighted!

The pigs are the latest addition to the school's agricultural program.  Currently 2 pigs live in this cement hut but plans are to have a larger area where they can get some fresh air and have mud to roll around in.
Surely happy pigs will be healthier!

Vegetable garden with maize field in the background.  Water is scarce which affects the vegetables, but when the rains come in the next few weeks, they will be able to plant maize and use it for the school's food.
The choral group was practicing when I visited. They are getting to know me, and I explained what I was doing and asked if it would be o.k. if I took some video and photos of them. They were happy to have their pictures taken and I wondered, how many have seen what they look like?  These are the students who recently recorded a CD and I'm hoping the sale of it will help boost the school's coffers. I felt like a voyeur taking their pictures knowing they couldn't see me do it.
Here is a clip of the students singing.

We finally got some decorating done in the house.
I hung 3 table runners on a metal rod to make a wall hanging.  I haven't been watching HGTV for years for nothing!

This reminds me of the aliens from Roswell....

We love warthogs...I call this grouping "Our family".
Shame on me for not being able to pronounce this lady's name, so I call her the "vegetable lady" because she comes each day and for 20 cents, sells our maid a bag of greens or other vegs.  I noticed she was pregnant and the day I took this photo, she was actually due.  It will be her 11th pregnancy but 6 children have already died.  She will deliver the baby in her hut with her husband's help; she is 41.

Our maid Rabecca is a lovely woman who keeps our place spotless.  Bed linens and towels are changed with the regularity of a hotel and  ironed along with everything else (Roger swears his underwear is as well).   As I keep telling Roger, "don't get too used to this"!  She's raised 4 children and they are all successful and doing well.  Her first marriage ended badly and she lived with 2 of her younger children in a room that she rented.  She is now happily married.  Each day she and the maid next door, Violet, share lunch  and I love to hear them laugh.
Violet and Rabecca
Is it just me, or does Violet look like Oprah Winfrey's character, Sophia, in The Color Purple?
Roger is still spending more time working than anything else (and I've been unofficially recruited to sort some things out at the office) but we're excited about planning our Christmas holiday in Thailand.  We're going to Koh Samui to hang out on a beach for a week then meet up with Brad and Anette for a week exploring Bangkok and the area around Chiang Mai.  So grateful Brad and Anette have the same spirit of adventure we have, and that the four of us have fun together.  We're planning on taking a Thai cooking class which we're all looking forward to.  It will be one more place we can check off our bucket list. After all - there are countries younger than me.

"If you have a good husband, you can live outside and not feel the rain."
Rabecca, our very wise maid

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