Rising Fountains Development Prog Weblog

January 28, 2008

More chicken and snake encounters!!! – Jeannie’s Blog

Filed under: Africa, AIDS, Volunteers, Zambia — rfdp @ 8:20 am

January 19th – 25th

 

It’s been another eventually week in Lundazi – a chicken was fed in our kitchen (!!!), a snake was found in a classroom at Kanele and Melina moved out!!

 

Let’s begin with the chicken incident first!  Last Saturday, we bought a chicken for dinner – alive of course.  As the rains have got really bad electricity and water are going every day, so as there was no electric there was no point killing the chicken as the fridge was wasn’t working.  Melina left Josée and I to look after the chicken in the afternoon for a few hours during which time it stated to rain heavily.  Neither Josée nor I no anything about chickens and weren’t aware that it was suppose to get wet.  So when Melina came back she brought it inside to heat it up beside the charcoal bracer!!!  The next thing we know she standing over it trying it to drink water and eat some mealie meal!!!!  At that point the electric came back and the chicken could be killed after all – at least it died on a full stomach!!! J   

 

The weather on Sunday was a big contrast to Saturday.  It was a beautiful day, very hot.  In the afternoon, the three of us went off exploring and started to walk out the Chama road (going towards the district north of Lundazi).  There is suppose to be a windmill along it somewhere but after walking in the one direction for an hour we didn’t reach it and decided to turn back.  Everyone we asked along the road gave us conflicting stories on how far it really was, so the next weekend that it’s dry, it’s the plan to leave earlier so we can find it!!! 

 

It was back to the office on Monday and finalizing proposals that were eventually posted on Tuesday.  The same day Pastor Chipeta left for Lusaka to pick up the new volunteer – Anna from Australia.  Meanwhile, Dorothy, Josée and I went to Kanele Middle Basic School, located in Lundazi BOMA, to distribute goods to a sponsored child.  As usual we received a very warm welcome from the teacher and pupils at Kanele.  Most of the school gathered to see the child receiving the goods and everyone was very enthusiastic.  For every item that was produced all the children seemed to get closed and closed!!!  The biggest drama though was a snake in one of the classrooms!!!  Luckily it was killed before it harmed anyone.  As the rains are getting worse and the grass is growing the snakes are coming into the BOMA from the bush.  A few weeks back there was another one in our garden (which our neighbour killed), then the following day there was a cobra outside the office!!  A bit scary, but we just have to deal with them and be very careful!!!

 

On Wednesday, we started to prepare for the arrival of Anna (new volunteer), which meant Melina had to move out!! L  It’s been really strange because I’ve been living with her since my third week here.  She’s become a really good friend and it was really great living with a Zambian but she’ll still be around and doesn’t live that far away.  No doubt in a few days we’ll be used to things being like this!

 

On Thursday, we emailed off another proposal after working flat out on Wednesday to get it finished!!  Rose’s grandfather died in Chipeta so she wasn’t at home.  Anna and Pastor was suppose to arrive from Lusaka on Friday, which meant that Josée and I had to clean the whole house!!  We were both our hands and knee’s sweeping, applying cobla and shining the floor in each room – a proper work out!!  The convenience of vacuum cleaners and mops are a distant memory!!  To make things ever more difficult, there was no electricity or water on Friday, so we had to use the water we store in containers sparingly!!  After all that, we received word that Pastor and Anna had reached Chipeta but Anna had a bad kidney infection and the doctor had advised her not to travel!!!  So on Saturday morning we will have to get up really early and do it all again!!  The most important thing though is that Anna gets better and arrives safely!!  It must be awful to get sick after just arriving in a country you don’t know!!!

 

Hopefully, Anna will arrive soon, at which point there will be three mazungo’s in our home and RFDP!  It’s also the plan to go to the Valley next week.  There has been a lot of rain here which means it is flowing into the Valley and the floods that everyone fears may materialize very soon!  The coming week, may prove to be very crucial!!

   

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Ooh the rainy season! (January 19th-January 25th) Josee-Anne

Filed under: Africa, AIDS, Volunteers, Zambia — rfdp @ 8:19 am

It was a very busy week last week.  It’s been raining almost everyday which makes working more of a challenge since the electricity often goes out when it rains or if its windy.  Even doing research on the internet can be difficult since we don’t have internet access at the office and must go to the internet café to research.   Last Tuesday was a really good day because we got to give school requisites to an OVC (Orphaned or Vulnerable Child).  The orphans have lost either one or both their parents to HIV/AIDS and a vulnerable child either has one parent or both parents infected with HIV/AIDS or is indirectly affected by HIV/AIDS.  The girl that was sponsored was a double orphan which means she had lost both her parents to HIV/AIDS.  Dorothy, RFDP’s OVC Coordinator, had procured a school uniform, exercise books, a pen, a pencil, new shoes, socks, a new bag and the school fees for the child with the funds received from her supporter.  The orphan attends a government school here in Lundazi called Kanele School.  It was very interesting to see all the children at the school.  They were all so vibrant and excited to see us.  When it was time to give the sponsored child her requisites, all the students gathered outside to see.  Some even performed short drama skits about Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.  It was great to see how the school was incorporating these issues into the school curriculum and how much the students knew about these devastating diseases.   The middle of the week was spent working on various projects but more specifically on some project proposals and a capital campaign for a vehicle.  It is very urgent that RFDP procures a vehicle to visit project areas in the Luangwa Valley.  It is very difficult to use our current means of transportation which is to hire a driver and a vehicle, because this vehicle usually always breaks down.  I haven’t been to the Valley yet, but my hope is that we will be making a trip this week.  If we go I will start working on our Child Sponsorship Database with Dorothy.  All the schools in the Valley are community schools.  Every single child that attends these community schools are either Orphans or Vulnerable Children.  All of these children will be eligible for sponsorship. In other news, I would like to give my sincerest condolences to Rose, our maid.  Her grandfather passed away last Wednesday.  Her grandfather lived in Chipata (5hrs away) and she didn’t have the chance to go to his funeral because she had no transportation.  We went to visit her on Thursday to pay her respects. We also have been anticipating the arrival of Anna, our new Development Volunteer from Australia.  She was supposed to arrive in Lundazi on Thursday or Friday but she caught a kidney infection which hampered her capability to travel.  We hope she will get better soon and arrive today or tomorrow.   On the weekend I got to experience football here in Africa.  The Africa Cup of Nations is on at the moment and on Saturday night we got to watch Zambia play against Cameroon.  We don’t have a television at our house so I went to a Sports Bar with Isaac and Melina and Jeannie to watch the match.  Unfortunately Zambia lost to Cameroon 5-1, but it was still very exciting to watch the game.   This week will be another busy week.  Hopefully we will get to go to the Valley and I will be able to give everyone an interesting report upon my return.

January 18, 2008

My first week in Zambia… (January 11th to January 18th) Josee-Anne

Filed under: Africa, AIDS, Volunteers, Zambia — rfdp @ 2:32 pm

Hello everyone, my name is Josee-Anne and I am the new development volunteer at Rising Fountains Development Program.  I am very happy to have finally arrived, especially after being in contact with Mr. Mathias Zimba, the Executive Director, for so long.  Zambia is more than I expected.  I arrived in Lusaka on January 11th from Toronto, Canada and was met with a warm greeting by Mathias Zimba and one of the Board of Directors, Reverend Zimba.  My baggage was left in Johannesburg, South Africa and so we had to stay in Lusaka for the night.  Mathias and the Reverend showed me around Lusaka; it’s quite a busy capital city with lots of traffic, markets and people.  Mathias and I stayed at the ZamCom Hotel.  We had dinner at the hotel and I got to taste Zambian food for the first time.  It is very delicious.  It consists of a vegetable relish, meat and nshima.  Nshima is eaten with your hands which can be very difficult for Muzungus (foreigners) so Mathias had to help me.  The following morning we went back to the airport, my backpack had finally arrived, and then the Reverend took us to the Lusaka bus station where we waited for our bus to Chipata.  We got on the bus around 15:00 and left for Chipata around 17:30.  It was a very hot and long bus ride; we arrived in Chipata at 4:00 the following morning.  From Chipata we were able to get a mini bus to Lundazi at 6:00.  The ride from Chipata to Lundazi was very nice, especially since it was day time; I was able to see the small villages and forests along the way.  The only bad thing is that the roads are very terrible, with huge potholes all the way.  We also ran out of gas and had to stop in a small village to get some more.  We arrived just outside of Lundazi around 11:30, we had run out of gas again, just 500 metres from the bus station!!  Jeannie (Int’l Development Volunteer) and Melina (Administrative Assistant) took a taxi and came and got us at the mini bus.  We then made our way to what would be the house I would share with Jeannie and Melina for the next three months.  I was really excited when I saw the house and my room, it was much bigger then I had expected.  There was no power or water since it was Sunday.  Every second Sunday we have no power or water because of maintance.  We had juice and cookies, and then I had a bath.  Reverend Chipeta, the HIV/AIDS Facilitator for RFDP came in the afternoon to say hello, as did Mr. Leonard Zimba, the Program Coordinator of RFDP.   Jeannie and Melina made a great lunch and dinner for me that day and really made me feel welcomed in the house and in Lundazi. On Monday we headed off to the RFDP office around 8:15, work starts at 8:30.  At the office I got to meet more of RFDP’s hardworking staff, Isaac the Accountant and Dorothy the OVC Coordinator.  I got to do a little bit of work in the morning, more specifically continuing to work on a project proposal I had started in Canada.  Lunch begins at 12:30, so then Jeannie, Melina and I walked back home to have lunch.  After lunch they brought me for a tour of Lundazi.  We visited the Lundazi Castle, the dam and the market.  The market is really nice with all sorts of vendors selling food and other things.   On Tuesday we had our weekly meeting, I got to hear what everyone does in the office and what everyone expects from me.  I must say the expectations are quite high! Haha!  But I am here to work and so I will do my best to meet everyone’s expectations.  Most of my time will be spent on writing project proposals, developing a vehicle fundraising campaign, coordinating the child sponsorship program, increasing memberships, monitoring and evaluation and making a video documentary about RFDP.  I will also be training the staff and volunteers here at RFDP in Project Management, facilitate female focus groups in the project areas and aid in gender mainstreaming RFDP’s work.  Some of the major challenges here at the office are the lack of computers and internet with makes coordinating work very difficult with 8 people wanting to use one of our two computers.  We do not have internet at the office either, so I will have to go to the internet café often to do some research.  The computers at the internet café are very slow and the costs are quite expensive as well.   I will just have to be imaginative and try to find other ways to get my work done!    The weather in general is very nice and hot.  It is usually sunny during the day and rainy at night.  It is the rainy season and so there will be lots of rain every day.  Since Lundazi is on a plateau, it doesn’t get any flooding but in the Valley, where RFDP’s project areas are, they are starting to feel the effects of the rainy season.  One of the project areas won’t be attainable until June because the roads are flooded.  RFDP’s other project areas are also beginning to get flooded.  When the rains are heavy, houses fall down and crops are washed out.  This means that people in these villages can be left with no house or food for long period of time, making the situation an emergency.  Mr. Leonard has gone to visit some of the project areas to assess the flooding situation.   On Wednesday, Mathias decided to bring me to meet some of the Lundazi Counsel Members and some of the other NGOs.  It was a good day for visits since we didn’t have any electricity in the office.  Jeannie came along with us as well.  It is customary to visit everyone once you arrive to a new place so that they know you are here.  First we went to Care International where I met the Director of the organisation.  Then we went to Thandizani to meet their Director.  Thandizani is also a Zambian NGO and is partners with RFDP.  Afterward we went to the Micro Bankers Trust, Mathias’ other organization that gives out micro-loans to people in Lundazi.  Then we went to the post office were I met the postmaster.  Subsequently we went to the Lundazi District Counsel where I met the District Commissioner, the District AIDS Task Force Coordinator, and the Counsel Secretary.  I was supposed to meet the Education Minister and the Agriculture Minister but they weren’t in their offices.  We also met with the Water Sector Office of Lundazi.  Jeannie and Mathias spoke with him about some of our Water and Sanitation projects in the Valley.   On Thursday I finished working on my project proposal and worked out my work plan for the next 10 weeks.  I can’t believe my first week has already come to a close.  I am looking forward to next week to begin working on all my different projects! I very much liked my first week here in Lundazi and at RFDP.  Everyone at RFDP is so kind and hardworking.  After learning more about RFDP’s projects from everyone, I can see that they are really making a difference in their project areas in sectors such as HIV/AIDS, Water & Sanitation, Education, Women, OVCs (Orphaned & Vulnerable Children) and Agriculture.  My responsibility now is to find as many sources of funding as possible so that RFDP can continue their amazing work in 2008 and for many years to come.  

  

 

Jeannie’s Blog – Lot’s of Changes!!!

Filed under: Africa, AIDS, Volunteers, Zambia — rfdp @ 2:29 pm

12th – 18th January

 

There have been lots of changes this week in Lundazi – a new hair style for me (again!!!) and a new volunteer for RFDP!!!

 

Last weekend, Frywell (our watchman) planted some maize and pumpkin leaf seeds in the back garden.  I tried to help him – much to his amusement… and the neighbour’s children!!  The mazungo was just a bit too slow and didn’t really have a clue what to do, but at least I tried!!!  I’ve been talking about it since the beginning of December but things have been so busy it only happened now.  Although the rains started many weeks ago, I have been assured it isn’t too late to plant and that I should see the results just before I leave in April.  Hopefully I will!  Maize is such an important part of the Zambian diet so it’ll be cool to be able to see it growing!!

 

Last Saturday I also got a new hair style – another truly Zambian one!!  This time I got all my hair platted across my head and then a wig sown threw it.  It only took a few hours – nothing compared to the dread locks!!  The wig is difficult to describe – so check out the pictures on the website over the next weeks!! As my hair is a bit too soft it’ll probably fall out before it’s meant too but it should stay in for the next few weeks anyway!  As you would expect its getting me lots of attention – a few people have even asked me if it is my real hair!!!!! J

 

On Sunday, Josée finally arrived!!  She had a mammoth journey from Lusaka – her first of many African adventures!!  She has lots of experience and no doubt she’ll fit into RFDP and Lundazi without any problems.  Everyone was getting used to me but now you can see people looking for a second time – just to make sure there are two mazungos!!! J J  

 

Most of this week has been spent showing Josée around Lundazi and working on work plans.  On Wednesday Mathias, Josée and I visited some of the local dignitaries including the District Commissioner and Council Secretary.  We also meet with the Council’s Water and Sanitation Coordinator and discussed the rehabilitation of water wells and construction of latrines in Kazembe.  In all RFDP’s projects we work alongside the local government authority and inform the relevant departments of our activities. 

 

On Thursday and Friday both of us have been completing proposals.  The particular one I have been working on was started in November but because of other proposals and projects that came up in December it has always been set aside.  It’ll be great to finally see it go and be able to start something fresh!

 

Throughout this week, I’ve met a few people from Kazembe (in the Valley).  They have all spoke of the rising water levels in the area.  When it rains in Lundazi BOMA the rivers fill up and flow into the Valley and the Luangwa River.  Normally excess water from the Luangwa River flows into the Zambezi River.  However, this river is already full and there’s flooding in Southern Province were the river is located.  It means that although rainfall is still lower than expected for this time of year, it’s only a matter of time before Kazembe floods as well.  People living in low living areas have already been told to move from their homes in expectation of the flooding.  The mangos are now almost out of season and most households are starving.  On top of this, this years crops will be destroyed by the floods.  The next few weeks will be critical for the people in the Valley, who are still recovering from flooding last year. 

 

This week marked the half way stage in my time in Zambia.  The first three months have flown by and no doubt the next three will as well.  Next week another mazungo arrives from Australia to also volunteer at RFDP.  As things continue to change, my experience in Zambia continues to evolve!!  No doubt there will still be lots to write about here in weeks to come!!!  JJJ                  

January 11, 2008

Happy 2008!!!

Filed under: Africa, AIDS, Volunteers, Zambia — rfdp @ 11:13 am

 7th December 2007 – 10th January 2008

 

It’s been a long time since I updated this blog!!!  Things have been really busy so I’ve kept putting off writing it.  It means that it’s now at the point were I don’t know were to start because so much has happened!!!!  The reality is that so much that I do and experience in Zambia, I will never tell anyone because time passes and something else becomes more important!  Anyway, here goes an attempt to outline all the major things that happened in the last month!

 

Mid-December brought great news!  Two donations had been made from friends at home which were to be spent on office equipment.  It meant we could finally get a second computer and a printer!!!  In the same week we received word that the first proposal that I competed had been successful and the Netherlands based Albert Schweitzer Foundation was going to fund some water and sanitation improvements in the catchment area.  Everyone was delighted with the news and, on a personal level, after completing lots of proposals I could finally begin to see some of the results for my work.

 

On the week before Christmas, I traveled to Lusaka to collect my work permit!  The fourteen hour bus journey was not something I was looking forward to but it did give me another opportunity to appreciate the beauty of the Zambian landscape again.  As it had been raining for a few weeks, the bush was green and dense, practically all the way from Lundazi to Lusaka! 

 

As before, when I arrived I received a warm welcome from Rev. Siyani and his family.  Apart from collecting the permit, I also visited Embassies to discuss possible funding for RFDP.  These included the Canadian, German, and Irish Embassies.  I received positive feed back from all of these and found out information via email on the funding opportunities of other Embassies.  In short, I’ve a lot of work to be done in the New Year to ensure RFDP makes the most of these opportunities.

 

I found it very strange being back in Lusaka.  It was a bit of culture shock being back in a big city.  In my view there were too many vehicles and mazungos!!! 🙂  Visiting the Irish Embassy again helped me to realize how far I’ve come, how much I’ve learnt, since I was there to register when I first arrived.  After spending four days there, it was good to get back to Lundazi – with the new computer and printer in tow!!!!!!

 

The following week was Christmas.  Christmas Eve was spent in the office preparing for a water and sanitation workshop in Kazembe which was scheduled between Christmas and the New Year.  I spent Christmas Day with Melina and her family.  It was a lot different to home – wearing a dress and getting sunburn on Christmas Day just didn’t seem right! haha It was a good day though, nice to just relax.  There was none of the commercial hype that there is at home and I didn’t miss that one bit!  The reality is that between December to March, it is known as the ‘hunger period’ here.  People have just planted their crops and until they are ready to harvest they have little to eat.  In The  Valley, most households survive on only mangos – when they go out of season in late January, they will starve.  The problem was compounded by flooding last year, so the crops were destroyed and there’s no surplus to help the people during this period.  So while there were parties on Christmas Day, it was nothing compared to what there is at home.

 

On Boxing Day / St. Stephen’s Day (December 26th), Melina and I organized a meal at our house for everyone in RFDP.  We cooked a traditional Zambian meal, nsima (of course) with visash and koko (chicken).  As usual, the chicken as bought alive and had to be killed.  I attempted to do the deed this time but ended up making more noise than the chicken and in the end Rose had to take over! J  Visash is boiled rape with pounded groundnuts.  After failing with the chicken I was determined to pound the nuts – which I did but only after it took me three hours!  It was the following day before I could use my arm probably again!!J  The pain was worth it though because the evening went very well and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.  It was good just to spend time together and relax after working hard over the last few months.  It was also an opportunity for me to say thank-you for all the care and support everyone has given me since I arrived.  

 

Despite the previous evening activities, it was back to the office in the morning to make the final arrangements for the trip to the Valley.  We left on the 28th and reached Kazembe around 16 hours.  The journey was relatively smooth – apart from a snake nearly getting into the vehicle when it went past the branch of a tree!!!  The windows stayed up after that!!!  Even though it had only been a few weeks since we had last been to Kazembe, you could really notice how much more green and dense the Bush was after the rain – it really was beautiful. 

 

The planned program’s took place on the 29th.  Events started at Kambwili Community School with a meeting attended by teachers, pupils, parents and the wider community.  The gathering was informed that two Ventilated Imported Pit-latrines were to be constructed at the school with funding from the Albert Schweitzer Foundation.  Currently only one traditional latrine exists which is not hygienic for children.  The community was delighted with the news and immediately started discussing where the materials they will supply will come from (the community will supply 25% of materials which will be locally sourced – this encourages community participation and enhances a sense of ownership).   

 

After this meeting, the RFDP team moved Kazembe Basic School for a workshop aimed at capacity building the Water and Sanitation Committees in the area.  Twenty participants, each representing a different Water and Sanitation Committee in the Chiefdom, were in attendance.  In all, four topics, each approximately one hour long, were addressed.  I started the workshop off with a session on the importance of water and discussed how to make water safe to drink.  This was my first time facilitating in detail and I was happy with how it went.  Of course, Mathias had to translate everything after my opening remarks!!!!  When I finished, Mr. Phiri, the Clinical Officer at Kazembe Clinic, addressed the participants on to correctly apply chorine to water.  Pastor then facilitated on basic hygiene.  Both the discussions on water and hygiene are an integral part for success of the project and reducing diarrhoea diseases in the area.  Leonard then facilitated on the construction of traditional latrines from locally sourced materials, as there is to be ten new traditional latrines for each water well rehabilitated.  Finally, Mathias facilitated a session on the management of wells.  This session was crucial to ensuring the project is sustainable and dealt with management in financial and material terms. 

 

After successfully completing the programs it was back to the BOMA.  The journey was as usual eventful.  It had been raining heavily and the road was bad to we got stuck four times!  It’s all part of the adventure now!!! J

 

The New Year was very quiet – New Years Eve was spent in the office working on the 2008 budget and completing a proposal – a very busy end to 2007!!  On January 2nd, Melina and I traveled to South Luangwa National Park in Mfuwe!  It was a long trip – all journeys are adventures now – but the game viewing was amazing.  We went on a morning ride at 6am and saw lions (less than a meter away from the vehicle!!!!!), elephants, giraffes, impala, zebra and a big herd of buffalo!!  In the night drive, from 16:00-20:00hours, we saw more loins, giraffes and zebra as will as hippos and leopards!!!!  Being so close to the animals really was amazing and so too was the beauty of the National Park!  Seeing lions really was the highlight – after hearing them while I slept a few months back it was good to finally see them!!!

 

We arrived back in Lundazi on Friday 4th evening and immediately Mathias passed by home.  After asking about the trip we told us that a proposal was needed by an organization in Lusaka very quickly.  So it was back to the office on Saturday and this is where I’ve been ever since!!!  The proposal was submitted on Monday morning and since then I’ve been working on reports and other applications.  2008 has started just as busy as 2007 finished. 

 Over the last few weeks we’ve seen RFDP grow rapidly.  We now have two computers and a printer.  We’ve moved into a second office and have a new Facilitator for Orphans and Vulnerable Children and Sponsorship, Mrs. Dorothy Phiri.  This weekend, another mazungo is arriving.  Josée-Anne Plouffe is from Canada and will volunteer with RFDP for three months.  It’ll be very strange to have another mazungo around.  A new chapter will open in terms of my experience here but no doubt it’ll be as eventually as the previous! To everyone reading this blog, HAPPY 2008!  Let us all work together to ensure that 2008 is even more successful for RFDP that 2007!!  This can be a great year for the organization, and more importantly its beneficiaries and their communities!!! J  

        

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