Rising Fountains Development Prog Weblog

September 10, 2008

My first village experience!

Filed under: Africa, Volunteers, Zambia — rfdp @ 2:23 pm

On the Sunday before last I was able to meet the other volunteers in Lundazi area, Robert, Kerry and D. They are all from the USA and work with either peace corps or VSO. They invited me to a ‘party’ for all of the new peace corps volunteers on Monday, which was to be hosted by D in her hut in a village called Kapachila- not sure how you spell it! It was 16km down a dusty road, very bumpy but good fun! I was able to meet the 4 new volunteers that would be spending the next 2 years here in Zambia. We got on well; it was good to meet some fellow Mzungus!


Upon arrival at the village, we were introduced to everyone and my Tumbuka (local language) was very quickly put to shame. In fact I have set myself the challenge of actually sitting down and learning it over the next few weeks. Wish me luck! There was then some singing from the women and children. Just beautiful. Apparently they don’t get many visitors, so had spent all day preparing our meal and even slaughtered a pig. We had Nshima, with a rape relish, a chicken relish, a cabbage relish and then the pork relish. We were slightly pushed for time, so went straight into D’s hut, which is made from mud, just moulded upwards, no bricks and a thatched roof. It must take so much skill to make a house from nothing but mud, the walls were so straight, it was perfect. Thye are decorated too; traditional Zambian huts are usually painted with orangey earthy colours and a black ring around the bottom of the hut, decoration varies depending on the area but looks nice. 


After Nshima, we sat outside on some mats and all of the women and children began singing and dancing. There was clapping and beautiful African rhythms, just a great atmosphere, I thoroughly enjoyed it. After making a sufficient fuss of the babies and puppies, we had to make a move home as it was getting dark. I got the numbers of the peace corps volunteers and hopefully will be seeing more of them in the future!


Last week at RFDP, I researched a ‘project of my choice’ and after a few meetings, made some really good progress on the micro loans and income generating schemes. I created a new, simplified database which should be far more efficient and easier to use. I then spent the rest of the week continuing writing a big grant proposal.


Last Wednesday ex President Levy Patrick Mwanawasa was buried. It was a national holiday so all shops and businesses were closed, including RFDP offices. In fact, it seems every Zambian in the whole of the country found a tv to watch it on. Me and Rose went to her Uncle’s house and watched it in a room with 9 other neighbours! We watched from 10:30 -15:30, was pretty hot and cramped! I was really proud to have watched such a momentous event in Zambian history. It was so important to everyone. It’s worth checking out the RFDP newsletter too, which has more information on the president, his death and this whole issue.


This week has been an exciting one for RFDP. On Monday morning Mathias had lots of news to tell us. The most exciting being that a big grant proposal for Water and Sanitation has been accepted. Work will begin next month and I am really looking forward to seeing the valley and meeting the people that we work for. Another piece of really great news was that we received a donation of $500 for RFDP’s OVC sector, from a Canadian charity called ‘One Moment’. Both will make such a significant difference to people’s lives.


On Tuesday, I went to visit Kanele Middle Basic School. Me and Dorothy went to collect the exam results of a girl called Flata who is sponsored through RFDP. Unfortunately they were not ready, but it was good to see the school and meet the head teacher. Although that wasn’t my official introduction, in which Mathias would come too and introduce me to everyone. I am hoping to help out with extra Maths and English lessons there, but it’s a good 40 mins walk so I will have to invest in a bicycle!


This week Dorothy and I have spent hours creating a database for all of the OVC that we have information about. There were literally hundreds and hundreds. Previously the details of the children were just written in huge, messy tables on paper. The other tables were pretty inconsistent, so there are gaps. We need to collect lots more information when out in the field if we can give these children a chance of sponsorship.


On Friday, we are going to have the Thandizani (HIV/ AIDS local NGO-a partner of RFDP) volunteer come to RFDP for a HIV/AIDS workshop. With his help we are going to construct a plan for our future HIV/AIDS programme.



I was able to meet with the peace corps volunteers again this week which was nice. We just played some board games at their house. Kerry and Robert the VSO volunteers are leaving on Friday, which is a real shame. They, very very kindly, gave me some furniture for the house, cook books and even some games. Me and Rose played connect four and dominoes last night, but I think she’s still getting the hanging of it! They’re having a leaving party tomorrow too- really looking forward to that!

September 1, 2008


Filed under: Uncategorized — rfdp @ 6:19 am

Hello from Lundazi! First let me introduce myself- my name is Fiona Robertson and I am the new international volunteer for RFDP! I come from Bath in the UK and have just finished my A levels. So that is me.


Okay so let’s start with Zambia. What an amazing country! I must say that my first impressions of Lusaka somewhat confused me! I was expecting the usual overcrowded craziness of a developing city- lots of idle people, dirt, rubbish, harassment by shop/stall owners, insane driving etc etc. None! There is also a great feeling of space- the roads are so wide and clean, lined with mature green trees. Really beautiful. The roads are also very calm and safe, really shocking but good.


Anyway, I arrived in Lusaka last Thursday morning and was greeted at the airport by Mathias. We went and dropped our bags off at the lodge and proceeded to the bank to sort out my work permit. Things went very smoothly for Zambia and we got that finished within the day! However, whilst sorting the fee for my work permit, we discovered that my Maestro card (which was recommended by HSBC international banking ‘expert’ in the UK, who changed my account and made me this card especially!!) only works is on bank- Stanbic. This bank only operates in Lusaka and the copper belt. Thank you HSBC! SO I have had to open an account here in Lundazi and transfer the money, so at least things have worked themselves out- but it all costs money.


The next morning we caught the bus to Chipata. The bus was meant to leave at 10 am, so we got on at 9:30 , waited until 1 (or 13 hours as they say here!) for the bus to leave and didn’t arrive in Chipata until 12:30!! Yes, not much fun, but the scenery was very beautiful, it really made me realise how vast this country is. The trip to Lundazi flew by in comparison, although it was very bumpy and dusty!


My house is pretty basic. I mean I suppose it’s all relative. Compared to the rest of the houses here it is pretty good, but compared with home..! I was surprised at how helpless I am! Things like cooking and washing that you do without thinking at home are suddenly a huge challenge- heating water to wash, using limited supplies to cook, coping with sporadic water and electricity supply. When I first arrived, I was just completely useless, I was very grateful for John, who had to explain even the most basic of things to me- thanks John! Now, I learn from my maid, Rose. I’m getting used to it now and learning this new way of life.


On Monday, I started work at RFDP. After a meeting, we discussed my contract and I drew myself up a work plan. I will mainly be involved in writing grant proposals and micro loans and income generating schemes, then helping out with Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) child sponsorship and creating media for distribution in the valley. Micro loans and income generating schemes is a new project for RFDP, I will be working on it with Jack and am really excited- so will keep you up to date on it’s progress!


On Monday night, we held a goodbye gathering at our house for John. Everyone from the office came, as well as Mathias’ wife. It was really lovely; we had Fanta and biscuits, with everyone saying their piece. John is going to be missed here. I just hope I can work as hard as he did! John left for Chipata the following morning.


I am also taking over from John in holding computer lessons. Yesterday we held our first- we covered all of the useful keys on the keyboard, then manipulation of images in Microsoft Word. Only Jack and Dorothy were able to make it, but I think it was successful!


At home I have already been visited by various bugs- spiders and a cockroach in my room so far! I don’t mind as much as it thought I would! I managed to chase the cockroach and catch it- I couldn’t believe how brave I was! Ha, the spiders are a different matter though, I have had to get John or Rose to deal with them so far.. they’re big and black and weird, really flat. It’s okay until they move and I totally freak out! …who knows, maybe I will overcome my fear. There are also a few lizards that live in the house. I love them. Night lizards are yellowy with big black eyes and in the day they’re greyish brown. I have one that comes and clings onto my curtain every morning. Since he’s been there, there have been no spiders! I hope he stays!


On Wednesday I tried Nshima, the staple food, for the first time. It’s Mealie meal or Maize Meal as it’s sometimes known. Literally just ground maize and water, but with different relishes. The rape and pumpkin leaves are really good here, as well as the various beans. I really like Nshima- in fact I think too much. I can’t stop eating! It’s tasty and you get to eat with your hands, what more do you want?! Yes food here is really good; locally sourced, natural, organic. My favourite purchases are Luangwa valley ‘It’s Wild’ Honey (which you can buy in the UK as fair trade!) which supports wildlife conservation in the valley. They also do ‘Jungle Oats’, which makes breakfast! Yum, so that’s food so far.


As far as life in Lundazi goes, I think I am settling in now. I didn’t get lost yesterday at least! Yes, I am making friends too, slowly. I’m really excited about working with RFDP and will keep you updated on my progress!

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