Monday, February 25, 2013

Out of Africa. Again.

You've got to be kidding, right?  Leaving Zambia?

Many of you have wondered why on earth we keep moving around the earth so much.  The reality is for the first 4+ years of working overseas our destinies seemed to be determined by other forces:  a worldwide recession forcing projects to shut down, companies leaving countries due to unrest, and new divisions not moving forward as planned.  These experiences have made us wiser and better able to make decisions pro-actively instead of waiting to see what happens, and we have grown accustomed to change.  And while I would rather have a root canal than move again, this next one is pretty exciting.

Thirty-five years ago I booked a trip to Australia and cancelled it when Roger proposed, and we promised each other we would get there some day.  Well, that some day has come.  Roger was offered a challenging position in Australia with great people he has worked with in the past, and we are both thrilled.

But there is still the matter of goodbyes to deal with in Zambia.

We came expecting to stay, and were warmly welcomed by a fun-loving group of people who call Ndola home. I was also privileged to be involved with the Ndola Lions School for the Visually Impaired thanks to my dear friend, Yvonne. I found a cause that touched my heart and inspired me, and gave me a sense of purpose - something that is hard to do when you're on the move.

As we saw our time come to a close, I started taking pictures of people and places I didn't want to ever forget.

I learned the most about living in Zambia from our maid, Rabecca, who is a kind and loyal person.
Left to right:  Our maid, Rabecca, Dorothy and Violet eat lunch together everyday and I enjoy hearing them chat and laugh in Bemba.  Rabecca said she often brags to the other maids that "her madame" makes her own bed and washes the dishes!  
This gentlemen works just outside the gate to our townhouse complex.  He has fixed our shoes and a backpack, sold  fruit, and tried valiantly to teach me Bemba.  While I never mastered the language, he would smile when I responded to his greeting with, "Bwino" (which means I am fine).  I gave him 2 prints of the photo, and he was clearly proud that I took a picture of him and his business.

Women selling fruit to buses and trucks on their way north on the highway from Lusaka.
The outdoor market is the best place to buy vegetables..... and dried worms (I can testify to the tasty vegs but not the worms)

Lots of different types of mushrooms
While Yvonne and I were at the school one day, we saw some neighbourhood kids playing on the grounds.

This little guy didn't know what to make out of me -- talk about the eyes being the window to the soul.
These two boys were having a great time playing football but took time to talk to me  in-between shots.
Check out a few things in this picture: the boys are playing barefoot, the ball is wrapped in rags, and the goal posts are pretty rudimentary but definitely filled the need.

These boys from the school were playing soccer with a pop bottle filled with rocks so they could hear where it went.  It is hard to fathom that most see only shadows or things within inches of their faces, while others are totally blind.  Yet they run and play like our own kids used to do.

 A donor sent money for the students to have a nice Christmas dinner. Unfortunately most of the kids were sent home because there was no food for them.  With the brisk sales of CDs and many of our family and friends generous donations, the food crisis has stabilized and the children returned.  So, a belated dinner was held with Yvonne and I purchasing the food.

For $110 we purchased 15 chickens, cabbage, onions, tomatoes, orange drink, maize meal and candies for more than 100 people.
As always, students helped each other and it was amazing how well mannered the 100+ children were.  When Mr. Chisala spoke in his customary soft spoken voice, you could hear a pin drop.  He asked the children to thank the donors and volunteers for their support, and to remember them in their prayers.
The cook (on the right) dishes out the plates of food, and the 3 older students with some vision delivers the meals to the children waiting in the dining hall.  100 plates were delivered within 5 minutes.

 It is customary in most African countries to eat with your hands.  Having roast chicken is a real treat for the kids and they really enjoyed the meal.  The white food you see is called Nshima, which is a Zambian staple but something we never acquired a taste for.
Because there were guests in the dining hall, the older boys you see in the background are quietly walking around saying, "Order".  Mr. Chisala assured us dinner time is usually more animated, but it was very impressive to see such a large number of children ranging in age from 6 - 20 be so well mannered.
I met with two of the students so I could put their profiles on the school's blog. Despite their sight disabilities, Naomi and Jumbe have aspirations of college and careers.  They are both excellent students, very articulate and a joy to talk to.

Naomi is in Grade 9 and has dreams of becoming a journalist.  She's been at the school for 3 years.

Jumbe is also in Grade 9 and wants to become a criminal lawyer when he graduates. His favorite past time?  Studying.   He has been a student here since he was in grade 2 when he began losing his sight.  When I asked him if he ever falls because he can only see shadows, he just laughed and assured me he hasn't yet.  He laughed harder when I told him I was having a difficult time navigating the uneven pathways and steps!
Telling the headmaster, Mr. Chisala, that I was leaving was difficult because the time spent at the school with Yvonne was a real highlight for me during the last 6 months. I have the utmost respect for Mr. Chisala and how he manages the school and cares for the students.  The fact he does all this without the aid of sight is remarkable.

Before leaving the school on Friday, Mr. Chisala read me a letter typed in Braille thanking me for my support.  I was moved by his words and will cherish the Braille, and typewritten letters.

We had a final night out with friends to thank them for the many kindnesses they had shown us.
Clockwise from bottom left:  me, Tim Currin, Roger, Steele and Sally Stavros, Yvonne Currin
In every country we've lived in, we've been fortunate to meet wonderful people who have helped show us the way.  Because of their generosity of spirit, our lives have been enriched by learning, listening and sharing some laughs with people from all walks of life.

So, we are headed off on yet another adventure.  I'm giddy at the thought of experiencing being an expat in a first world country with the ability to drink water from a tap, buy goods most people normally take for granted, and speak the same language -- well, with some Aussie slang thrown in.

Once again I am reminded of Dr. Seuss' quote:
"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."

Tukamonana!  We will see each other!

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