Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Final Post

Final Village Pictures

In the center is my Host Mom and surrounding are her children. Her husband was unfortunately working in the mine when Deanna came to photograph my family. Thanks again Deanna for your photographing skills! 

This is my Host Grandmother. The woman who greeted me daily in Lunda.

On the left is my Host Uncle Michael and his wife Gloria. Surrounding are his children and other children from our family that snuck in.

Becky and Audra's Host Family

My Grade 3 Class

 Mrs. Shimau and Me on my last day

Some of my Grade Four Girls 

Merriam and Anna, two of my favorites 


First time homeowner turned homeless.

And that is that. Final Zambian Exploration Blog Post. Thanks for all that have read and followed my blog and can't wait to see and catch up with you when I return to the states. June 18th!!!


Napwisha (aka I'm Finished) 

(Note: wrote this on the 6th of April on my final bike trip) 

The Zambian chapter of my life is closing. The two years flew by! Sitting on top of Mosi/Mozzie Hill. Absolutely beautiful up here. 360 degree view of the world. You can see the phone towers by the exploration camp, and just a bit past that would be the market, my hut, the school. You can see the open pit at the mine 30 km away, the Congo's out there somewhere north, and far, far, out there to the west is the Atlantic and farther still Michigan and my family.

I biked here from the village, about 30 km around trip on the dirt road that leads to the Chiefs Palace from my hut. It's great once you get here because the way home's all downhill. It's the perfect final bike in Zambia.
I leave the village in four days. Its awful making people sad and now I'm doing that to people again (reverse of when I first came to Zambia with the American side) And this goodbye is harder, when you know you'll probably never see the people again, likely won't return to Zambia, so this time goodbyes are forever. (Potentially, would like to end up traveling through Africa at some point so lightens the last statement slightly)

I have experienced so much in the last two years
* Learned a language
* Integrated into a Zambian Family
* Cooked Nshima, eaten countless local meals, pupils even made how to videos
* Visited many places throughout Zambia and Southern Africa
* Experienced a Zambian election year and the changeover of ruling parties
* Chipolopolo WIN!!! of the Africa Cup!!!
* Taught countless lessons in the schools
* Climbed Kilimanjaro with my sisters!!!
* My parents came to Zambia and stayed in my hut in the village!!!
* Ran two Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) Camps
* Started Girls Clubs
* First time home owner
* Invented squazel (game with similar principles to raquetball but with a seed and my thatch roof)
* Lived without running water or electricity
* Biked who knows how many kilometers
* Biked to the source of the Zambezi to look at a mud puddle and then visited Victoria Falls (especially amazing comparison during rainy season, like a water park looking at the falls)
* Created meals like nachos, pizza, indian, and crepes all on a brazier
* Read SOOO many books
* Spent days upon days hitching (if you add all the time up)
* experienced the best (proflights) and the worse (minibuses) of transport Africa has to offer
* Taught myself to enjoy cold bucket baths (yes too lazy to heat the water)
* Survived mpashi ant attacks, malaria, close encounters with snakes, the incessessant 'how are you?" 'how are you?" "how are yous?" from children
* And made lifelong friends

(Wrote this bit sometime end of March)

I've been thinking and reflecting a fair bit lately so here's a list of things I've learned and experienced in the past two years:

1.  How to simply be - sit alone and just enjoy quiet time; sit with others and just enjoy each others company without talking (or them talking in local language)

2. Laughters the best universal language. You can also communicate a lot through non-verbal expressions. Prime example my grandmother is deep lunda we have never communicated past our daily greetings but she is one of my host family members I am closest to.

3. Flexibility - you can't survive here without it, being prepared for programs but also expecting constant changes and potential cancelations and bonus unknown programs that pop up.

4. Appreciation of the small things (and sometimes big)  - electricity, running water, hot showers, air conditioning, good food, beauty of the outdoors, honest people, cup of hot coffee, music, books, phone calls and letters from friends and family, children's laughter

5. Vegetarian no more - was one for about five years before coming to Zambia, killed a chicken on first site visit and never looked back. I think if you can kill what you're going to eat and they had a good life then I don't have a problem with it. In Zambia that's a lot easier the chicken you eat is the one that's been running around your family compound for the last year.  In America I plan to eat meat but seek out healthly raised animals and avoid factory farms. So omnivore life here I come!

6. Learned to be more trusting of people

7. Realized the world is not always safe; bad things happen to good people; there are things in the world that could break me. Scary thought but overall good to be conscious of.

8. Capable of learning a new language with cultural immersion, but use it or lose it just as easily

9. Sustainable development is far more difficult than I ever imagined. Large change must come from local government, elimination of corruption, and need accountability in jobs and duties. Too much aide goes to overhead and to programs that are good in theory but unsustainable on the ground. Health aide is essential but the rest needs to come from investment and programs implemented and controled by the locals. You give hand outs and you will create people reliant and expectant of someone to come and help them instead of finding a way to help themselves.

10. Experienced being the minority. Being noticed everywhere you go is exhausting. Muzungu, Chindele, aka white person are names I could live happily with never hearing again. The constant reminder that I am white and a foreigner when biking, walking, traveling, moving anywhere outside of the village. But also being treated in Zambia as Bwana (aka rich) because I'm white and foriegn. I want to have earned it when I'm recognized in life and not have it based on the physical especially not skin color.

11. Experienced being female in a male dominated society. But moreso seen what Zambian women experience living in a male dominated society (they treat foreign women better). In the village women do all the work. They cook, clean, take care of the children, sell vegetables, farm, get water, you name it it's probably the women.

12. Experienced communal living where family and friends all take care of each other no matter how little they have. You stop by someones house around mealtime you'll be invited and expected to eat with them, you need something that someone else has they will gladly share. Overall wonderful. Hard for families to save for the future because anyone in the family that has is expected to share with anyone in the extended to family when they need help.

13. Seen extreme poverty. Children stunted from lack of nutrition, swollen bellies, kids losing hair from lack of protein. Large families all living in a one room thatch roofed hut, clinics that run out of medicines and people who suffer or die because of it.
Zambia is a harsh, beautiful, and wonderful place all at the same time.
Remembering back to when I first arrived in Zambia, it seemed so different than anything I knew. But now after two years this is what I know and returning to America is going to be the strange part, and stranger still that returning home can seem strange. My world is about to be rocked by accessibility, commercialism  technology, customer service, hot showers, etc... and by the absence of the people here in Zambia that I love and will forever miss. I hope our paths cross again.

The Next Chapter: Wandering Nomad

What's next?

The question I've been getting from everyone these days.

The answer: Traveling for the next two months. First over to Malawi to relax and get PADI certified. Then down to South Africa to meet up with Heather, my sister, who is holding a conference in Joburg in May. Then over to the land down under (aka Australia) to meet some kangaroos and James. Then back on American soil June 18th. Enjoy the summer, family reunion in Yosemite, and work on finding an elementary teaching job somewhere in the states.

Monday, January 14, 2013

You GLOW Girl!!!

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has"  -Margaret Mead

G.L.O.W. stands for Girls Leading Our World. Camp GLOW is a Peace Corps program focused on educating the girl child in developing countries. We hold a week long camp where 2 girls and 1 teacher come from each volunteer's village. Over the course of the week the girls and teachers learn life skills, HIV/AIDS basics, business skills, and much more! Camp participants return to their villages with the aim to start a Girls Club at their school. Camps to clubs keeps the ball rolling of girl education and empowerment.

For more information and details about our Camp GLOW check out a website fellow PCV Deanna Dent has created

In Northwest Province we run one Province-wide camp with participants covering the 4 districts: Solwezi, Mufumbwe, Mwinilunga, and Ikilenge. This year we had 32 girls, 14 teachers, 4 junior counselors, 2 translators, 5 facilitators, and 17 volunteers involved! The largest camp in PC Zambia to date! We held the camp at Mwinilunga Trades Center. A wonderful site several kilometers outside of Mwinilunga Boma complete with newly constructed classrooms and dormitories. 

Here's a bit of what we did during the camp:

 In the  morning we held different sessions. This included Gender Roles, Reproductive Health, HIV/AIDS sessions, Business Skills, Relationships, Rape and Sexual Assault, Decision Making and Communication Skills, Women in Leadership, and Family Planning. 

As co-camp director there were plenty of logistics to do throughout the week to keep each day running smoothly. Everyone came together to make an excellent low-stress week! 

You can't have a camp without some fun and creative sessions. In Art as Expression each girl created a piece of artwork to express themselves in any capacity which was then displayed during our closing ceremony. 

 Wednesday afternoon we hosted a Career Panel. Marjorie, featured far left, is a women politician in Solwezi, District. Each speaker shared her story of how she made it to the position she holds today. Many had stories of struggle and inspired the girls by sharing how they overcame the odds and made it.

One afternoon we made Chitenge Pads. You make a pad out of chitenge scraps (local fabric here) that you button around your underwear with a pouch for removing and replacing a washcloth in the center. Having chitenge pads allows the girls to attend school when they're on their menstrual cycles. A special thanks to Mrs. Moehle for donating all the deluxe sewing kits. The girls were SO excited and loved having the materials they need to sew to take back with them to the village. 

Low ropes course: the spider web. Goal: get everyone from one side to the other without touching the rope! 

Friendship bracelet making time!

 Some of the girls put on a traditional dance to thank the cooks for the delicious meals they made us all week

Thursday afternoon we had rotational IGAs, Income Generating Activities. Pictured above is a Nursery demo lead by on of our Agricultural Volunteers, Larry Maurin. Other IGAs included chitenge doormats, tailoring, bread baking, hair plating, and jewerly making. 

My teacher on the left Ms. Makaaka, Fridah, Mavis, and Me! 

Closing Ceremony
We finished a wonderful week by a candlelite ceremony. Each girl received a certificate for completing camp (certificates are a huge deal in Zambia). We completed the ceremony with each color team creating a floating latern. Each girl wrote a hope or dream they have for the future that they wrote on the latern. The idea being the latern would float off into the night sky and the girls would always have a reminder of how they felt at the end of camp and the hopes they had for the future by looking at the night sky when they returned to the village. 

Camp GLOW was my last big program of the year and also of my Peace Corps service. I now have about 3 months left. Oh how the time has flown by. I'll be working on finishing my projects and wrapping up loose ends in the village, coming to grips that I'll be leaving this beautiful country in just a short while. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Here and there and everywhere

Well life in the village in October and November has continued to be hot. But we've started to get some good thunderstorms. You know it's a good storm if the thunders loud enough to shake your entire hut. Means it should definitely be cooler the next day! Anywho. Figured I'd add in a new post about what I've been up to - mostly in the village - with a side trip down to Lusaka for our Training of Facilitators for our Girls Camp. That'll the next post - girls camp!!! Coming up in a  mere 4 weeks and much to do! Which is what I've primarly been up to when I'm not teaching at the school. Grade 9 exams begin monday and last two weeks so teaching and school is coming to a close for the year. So, enjoy the pictures and a little snapshot into the last couple of weeks. 

Hanging out at the school practice for Independence Day. Two of the teacher's daughters (different families)

Practicing traditional dances in one of the teacher's yards. 

Check it out! Yep I biked that grass several km to my hut to fill in some holes in my kinzanza and kimbusu roof. Rainy season I'm completely ready, please bring the cool weather.

Zambia's Independence Day!!! October 24th, 1964

They went all out for celebrations. Put up a tent at the school where vips got to sit, as the visiting American made it as a VIP and a judge of talent! 

Grade 5 and 6 girls performing traditional dances to celebrate independence! 
And my favorite part of the day - the eating contest. Take one was with bread and zam-cokes and take two featured above is with nshima and beans. The boys just couldn't figure out if they should roll their nshima into balls first or bite hunks out of it (not quite as amusing unless you have some background of nshima..)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sun and Seafood

It's hot season here right now in Zambia. The perfect time to pack you bags and head to the ocean for cooler weather or at least hot weather with water to cool off in. Here are some photos and such from my trip to Mozambique. It was an Andge and Audge trip - my closest PC neighbor who has just finished up her service. We flew from Lusaka to Johannesburg and then took an overnight bus (really nice - comfy, reclining seats, toilet on board) to Maputo and then the following day another this time cramped rosa bus to Tofo and beach time. Here are some photos from the trip...

We took a running taxi to the Fish Market in Maputo. This is our attempt to capture the scene. Running taxi is basically a little car/cart thing that is placed over a motorcycle. 

Exploring Maputo. Audra posing at the Fort the Portuguese used to defend the city. Fort walls quite short, but seemed to have done the trick.
Carved stone Portuguese signs in the fort

Wandering the streets of Maputo we discovered a museum, solely devoted to coins. And what coin museum would be complete without a coin man.  

Laurentina Dark - My favorite beer in Mozambique. Only African country I've visited that has a dark beer as one of their standard offerings. 

Fish Market enjoying a cold beverage waiting for our food.

Fish Market. You go into the fish market part chose what you want to eat, purchase it and then bring it to one of the many table areas where they prepare the food for you. Delicious and a great price for seafood! And yes I did eat them, took off their heads and legs and everything.

Maputo from the waterfront. Water in the city has become too polluted to swim in, but still a nice view.

Sitting on the beach in Tofo. Absolutely beautiful beach. 

We went to Barra, a resort area, to camp for a night. We sat on the beach and had the most delicious bun, cheese, pepperoni sandwich I have ever tasted. Finally arriving after some crowded minibus rides, walking in the dead heat of the day and then catching a couple other rides, it was perfect to sit on the beach watching the sun, water, and eat our delicious sandwiches.

Beach at Barra 

Old carved out wooden canoe, complete with some giant snails living inside the water filled boat 

Just couldn't get enough of the fish market. Visited it again with the couple of hours we had between the tofo bus and the bus back to joburg

Lobster!!! My first one ever. And I must say my favorite seafood dish I had in Mozambique.

That's a little snapshot into our trip. To get a true perspective I should have taken way more pictures on the beach as that's where we spent most of our time. We also went out on an ocean safari in Tofo hoping to see some whale sharks or a migrating humpback whale, but to no avail. But did find some dolphin and got to jump in with them and swim with them - well mostly over them but still awesome. And had my first  experience with some jelly fish. got stung a couple of time but discovered its mostly just uncomfortable wouldn't say painful so must say the ocean is growing on me. Delicious food comes out of it, good swimming, great beaches, and even getting used to the sand crabs. 

Returned now from Mozambique and back into hot season. Headed to the village right about now-ish after I finish some Camp GLOW (girls leading our world) paperwork that we're putting on in December. Life in the village is going well although I'm in and out a lot this term so less productive with my programs. On the bright side most of my programs seem to be sustainable as they are still operating while I'm out of the village. It's crazy to think I'm the oldest intake in Zambia now and have just 6 months left. 

On that note over and out :) 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Alternative Technology Workshop

This week I've been attending an Alternative Technology Workshop in Solvwezi with a counterpart from my village. Total there were ten of us: five volunteers and five counterparts and our two facilitators. Check out the pictures below for a bit on the projects we built, learned about, and will bring ideas of back to the village.

We jump started our brains with a maize stacking challenge. Rules: two pieces of paper, stack as many corn cobs as possible. Our team won with 7 corn cobs. 



 What is this machine you ask? Why a groundnut sheller. The metal one is from the capital - around 3 million - ie 600 USD. So we made a wooden one in my group - price likely around 20 USD. 

Close up of our groundnut sheller. How's it work? Add groundnuts and pull handle back and forth. The nails on the bottom break groundnuts and they fall through the slots between the wooden dowels. Final step separate shells from nuts. 

 Clay pot inside another clay pot. Sand inbetween you add water to. Damp cloth on top. Cassava or your choice of something kept cold. Yep that's right it's an evaporative cooler. The clay is porous and draws the moisture away from the veg or whatever you add to your pot therefore making it cooler. Store in the shade.

Northwest Province does not have a clay pot market. Instead take a large jerry can and small jerry can, add sand inbetween, dampen a cloth, and cement the inside of the small jerry can. The cement has similar qualities to the interior clay pot. Mission accomplished. 

Another group completed a drip irrigation project. Take two used bicycle tires, attach them together, and then attach that to a jerry can, make small holes at the correct spacing for your garden and then add lollypop sticks to the hole. Drip irrigation at its best. They did another project with bamboo and water bottles inverted in them that accomplished the same idea. 
Hard at work - building a solar dryer frame

You can use a zam-bike and the blue metal machine... creating a cycle powered maize shelling machine

The mesh top of a homemade smoker (used mainly for fish smoking)

And this project wins most creative. What do you think this is? 
(Wait for it... hah.. will tell you at the end of this post)

Everyone loves a bit of pyromania. 
Even better when it's saving the environment. That's right folks. Burning corn cobs in that metal drum. You then crush the carbonated corn cobs and then make them into brickettes using the corn cob ash and a mixture of cassava goo. And cutting down 0 trees in the process. Which is great because Zambia is one of the leading countries in deforestation.  

There were a couple other project we worked on that didn't make it in here - mostly no photos. Will keep you updated on which projects we decide to try in the village. And did you figure out the swinging jerry can contraption? That's right it's a honey press. We didn't have honey comb so couldn't test it's effectiveness - but at least makes a fun game.