Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Victoria Falls - the sequel...2 months later

Vic Falls in October

Vic Falls in December

We went to Vic Falls a month ago at the tail end of the dry season - and then went last week, well into the rainy season, what a difference in water volume! We could hear the noise - and see the spray from a mile away...

We got soaked from the spray coming off the falls - and from a bit of rain that fell during part of our time there. Thankfully, it was sunny after that and we were able to dry off. Some male tourists had their shirts off (not a pretty sight) in an attempt to keep their shirts dry for later.

Later that afternoon, we went on a sunset dinner cruise (although the clouds made the actual sunset impossible to see) - but saw hippos, some birds, and one much for wildlife!

Our sunset dinner cruise on the Zambezi River

Here's a link to more pictures from our trip:

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

What does Christmas look like in Zambia?

No endless ads on TV
No newspaper inserts
No mail coupons (because there's no mail delivery!)
No email blasts (although I'm getting plenty from Toys R Us and amazon!)
No Christmas tree lots
No Christmas lights on homes
No ringing bells outside grocery stores
No cold, crisp weather (tshirts, shorts and birks still rule the day)

  • Yesterday we saw a black and very skinny Santa handing out candy at one of the malls (AND telling kids to remember to brush their teeth!)
  • Saw a white, skinny Santa at the other mall
  • The Salvation Army brass band (made up of high school students) was playing Christmas music at the mall
  • The Shop Rite grocery store clerks and baggers are wearing red Santa hats
  • Christmas music is playing in the stores
  • Grocery stores are selling tinsel, garland, and food packaged in baskets
  • The street hawkers who accost you at every stop light are now selling small Christmas trees in addition to their usual wares: umbrellas and towels with the Zambian flag, phone chargers, phone cards, tomatoes, etc.
There is Christmas commercialization and you notice it most at the two malls in town: Arcades and Manda Hill - that are frequented by ex-pats and wealthier Zambians. The malls are in full Christmas mode - they even have a gift wrapping service!

But when the poverty level is so high here in Zambia, I don't know what Christmas looks like for the 73% of Zambians who are living on less than a dollar a day. My guess is it looks like every other day...

With the planting season in full swing, most people are out digging and planting seeds hoping that the rains won't flood out their crops like they did last year, and that they'll have enough food to feed their families.

Living in the city, I need to be intentional to remember the many Zambians who yearn for a better life but are trapped in poverty... may their Christmas be blessed and joyful in their own way...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Zambia Water Launch Event

The Launch event kicked off with ladies from the community dancing and singing for the event. We set the tent up (in case it rained) on a school soccer field - and you gotta love the cows and donkeys that use the field for grazing!

This last week, World Vision Zambia kicked off a major water project funded by a very generous U.S. donor. The $10 million, 5-year program is for four countries in Southern Africa: Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho and Mozambique. The ceremony we held was to kick off the Zambia water program - the first country in World Vision's SAWI (Souther Africa Water Initiative).

As part of my WVZ job, I helped organize a kick off event in honor of the donor, and to formalize the program and show the importance of our partners: the government, other NGOs and the communities that will benefit.

The Deputy Minister (the U.S. equivalent of Under Secretary) and donor, Terry, cutting the ribbon to kick off the drilling of the first well in the Zambia water program.

The event went really well - although it wasn't without its issues (as any event planner knows, there's always something!). The government protocol was very tricky and difficult to manuever: who speaks first, who sits by who, did you buy a bouquet of flowers to present to the minister?, I've prepared a speech, so why isn't my name on the program?, I'm leaving because you clearly don't respect me and my position enough to include me, you can't pray for the meal until the District Commissioner is here, and on and on...

The GOOD news is that in spite of all the government protocol issues - this village will receive a borehole well and women won't have to walk for miles to get water -- dirty water, which the ONLY water that's available here.

I was in this same village in October (a very dry month here) and it was a struggle for the women to get water. They were getting their water from a hole in the bottom of a dry river bed - and it wasn't even potable- which means that many people struggle with diaarhea and dysentery which is most dangerous for children under five years old.
From my October trip: women fetching water from the bottom of a dry riverbed

World Vision drilled a well in that same community. Water was struck and people were so happy they spontaneously started dancing under the water!

This village and many others will have their lives changed forever because of clean water - children will live longer, families will be able to grow crops to feed their families and even sell any excess to generate income, women will have time to do other income generating activities since they won't be spending hours fetching water... in short - individual lives and communities will thrive and become healthier in so many ways!

Sophie Turns 12!!

Sophie is in her final year of being a "tween" and we will enjoy every day of it before she turns 13!!

The annual cookie decorating tradition continued with three of Sophie's friends from school: Victoria, Sophia and Kamila. They came for a sleepover (which are very popular here in Lusaka) had pizza and decorated cookies!

L to R: Kamila, Sophia, Victoria and Sophie

What's amazing is where the girls come from. Only one is American - but in name only. She was born in the U.S. but when I asked her where she's lived she said, "Uganda, Benin, South Africa, Malawi and Zambia"... amazing and she's only 12! Victoria is from Uruguay - but has never lived there and has spent most of her life in Africa. And Kamila is half Bolivian and half Canadian and has only lived in Bolivia and Africa.

So, even though our kids go to the American International School - the emphasis really is on "international" - even for the American kids!

Happy Birthday Sophie!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What do I do for work?

I've been asked what kind of work I'm doing here in Zambia - and thought I'd share a bit of what I've been doing lately.

Half of my time (I use the phrase "half" loosely) is spent working for RAPIDS (Reaching HIV/AIDS Affected People with Integrated Development and Support) - the largest PEPFAR (President's Emergency Program for AIDS Relief) funded project here in Zambia.

The other 50% of my time is spent managing the Communications and Marketing (local fundraising) departments for World Vision Zambia.

The heart and soul of the RAPIDS program are the 18,516 volunteer Caregivers. These are men and women who care for children and families afffected by HIV and AIDS who live in their communities. RAPIDS trains and equips these Caregivers and comes alongside a natural social movement that will be sustainable long after our program is gone.

This last week, I organized a Zambia-wide Caregiver appreciation day where we honored all 18,516 RAPIDS Caregivers around the country with a certificate and a chitenge (a 2 meter piece of fabric that women use to wrap around their waist - think "sarong").

Our two Caregiver speakers (who were fantastic!) - Esther and John decked out in their RAPIDs outfits they had made!

In Lusaka, we had an event for about 350 of the local Lusaka Caregivers (there were too many to honor ALL of them at this event, but they held satellite events for all Caregivers) - and we had Dr. Kaunda (Zambia's first elected President) and the new US Ambassador attend our event. This was the first public event for the new Ambassador - so ALL kinds of nervousness by the USG staff to make sure everything was ship-shape, tip-top! They drove me nuts!! :-)

At the World Vision table: L to R: Charles Owubah, National Director of WV, USAID mission director, the new US Ambassador and KK, the first Zambian president, WV staff

It was fun to see so many Caregivers ride in on their bicycles (see John's entry about the bikes) and it was great to be able to honor and encourage them in the work they do.

At the Caregivers Day event in Lusaka

In addition to this, I've also helped write proposals to raise cash gifts from private corporations and other potential donors.
For my World Vision Zambia job, I am currently working on an event to launch the Zambia Water, Sanitiation and Hygiene (ZWASH) program. A major donor from the U.S. gave World Vision a $5 million gift that will be matched by other donors totalling $10 million over 5 years.

Next week, this major donor is coming to Zambia to launch the program - so I'm in event planner mode again with a large "launch event" that will take place over 3 days. I'll also be involved with finding additional gifts and reporting back to the donors who fund this project - and because water is so crucial for the well-being of communities, this will be a great addition to the other work World Vision Zambia is doing.

I leave on Monday for the trip to the field with the donor, the World Vision U.S. reps handling the account and our WV water specialists. Should be fun!

There are so many protocol issues that I am totally ignorant about. Did you know that if you have a Government Minister attend your event, you have to wait until he/she arrives until you start the event EVEN THOUGH that Minister can be up to/or over and hour late!!

So, we've had to make provisions to fill time in case the Minister is late! Also, our M.C. for the event cannot introduce the Minister directly - that has to be done by one of the Directors in the department the Minister works in (in this case, it's the Local Government and Housing department).

And, if it rains and the roads are so muddy that we can't drive to the site where we're drilling the well (which is part of our launch program)? Well, our Regional Manager said, "they have to walk!" - so picture this: men in suits with fancy shoes walking down a muddy path to get to the village where we're drilling the well!! Thank goodness the ladies from the village will be singing and dancing and taking their minds off of the mud! :-)

I'll report more next week....

Location of one of World Vision's water wells in the Southern Province... you can see why they need water - it is so dry!

The Weather

People have been wonderring about our weather here in Lusaka...

We've been here for most of the seasons - or so it seems. Here's a brief run-through:

The cold season: when we arrived in early August we were at the tail end of the cold season. We wore coats in the morning - and closed toe shoes. It's coldest in June/July.

The windy season followed: pretty descriptive. There is so much open land -- without any vegetation -- covered in red dirt. The wind carries the dirt that gets into everything. Our furniture was covered with dirt on a regular basis.

The hot season (September): It was HOT - around 100 degrees most days. Not too humid, but just HOT (thank goodness we have air conditioners in the house!).

Now, we're into the rainy season: there are torrential downpours, drizzles and ongoing rain... sometimes it looks a lot like Tacoma! I hear that there's a warm rainy season and a cold rainy season. We're in the warm rainy season - and unlike the Northwest, it clears - usually that day - and we have blue skies and warm weather. It's a bit more humid right before the rains clear up the air. Still, we wear shorts and tshirts every day...

Most mornings we sit on our front veranda, drinking our coffee and enjoying the wonderful warm's really beautiful out right now - beautiful blue skies, white fluffy clouds and a gentle breeze!

Now, back to the rest of the news!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Our Thanksgiving Vacation

While everyone else in the US was snatching up stuff on sale at the after Thanksgiving Day sales - we jumped in the car and together with our friends, the Huddles, drove 4 hours north to N'sobe Lodge.

We rented a chalet (pronounced shall-let) that had four bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a big dinining/living room and a smallish, but decent kitchen - that sat on the edge of a small lake.

When we got there, we learned that the Lodge was holding a Jr. fishing derby the next morning - so we registered all five kids. Talk about FUN! Their team - the "the exploding minnows" came in fourth place with a haul of 20 kgs of fish. Sophie was ALMOST the winner in the largest fish category!

Sophie, Naomi Huddle and Peter with their haul of bream (or tilapia).

Getting the official weigh-in for Sophie's fish.

We also went on a mini game drive on the property and saw giraffes, zebras and antelopes - it was VERY exciting to get so close to the animals!

All the kids: Sophie, Peter, Charis, Nathan and Naomi on our safari drive

Zebra and Giraffes - up close and personal...

As much as we missed our annual trip to Seattle to watch the Thanksgiving Day parade, this was WAY better - and so much fun!

To see all the photos: ttp://

Friday, November 7, 2008

John's day with WBR

This last week I had the opportunity to go on a site visit with World Bicycle Relief (a partner of RAPIDS and World Vision – that Miyon works for). WBR, along with the Zambian Ministry of Education is starting a bicycle empowerment program in the Chombe district which just north of Lusaka. This pilot program plans to distribute bicycles to students and teachers that are challenged by the distances they live from their schools. Take a look at their webpage at to get the full vision of what WBR is doing in Zambia.

F.K. Dey (center) founder of WBR encouraging
students at Ndpula community school

The first school we visited was a small school in Ndpula. After our bus traveled about 25 kilometers of dirt road we arrived at this small 6 room school house. Ndpula is a community school*. It has 266 students ranging from grade 1 to grade 7. The geographical area the school serves is quite large. Some students travel more than 6 kilometers (over 3 miles) one way just to get to school. It was quite inspiring to see how dedicated this community is in trying to get their children educated. They are so grateful to anyone who will help them. The simple vision of WBR is to make it easier for kids and teachers get to school through the use of bicycles.

The Basic school at Nkiwda

The second school we visited was a basic school* in Nkiwda. This school which is has more students than Ndpula also serves a population that need assistance with students and teachers who travel long distances. This school starts its morning session at 7:00am and some will travel over 10 kilometers just to get to campus. To get there on time, one student leaves at 5:00am! I can’t imagine asking Peter or Sophie to get out of bed at 4:30 and then walk over 6 miles to get to school. . . And do that 5 days a week!! On being asked how bicycles would impact their school, one student responded that it would benefit even those who wouldn’t receive bicycles because they wouldn’t have to wait for the students who have to travel so far to get to school. Teachers will wait for all students to be present before they start their lessons.

WBR’s goal is to provide 50,000 bikes to students, teachers, and some community leaders to help improve education in Zambia. 80% of these bikes will go to community schools like Ndpula with 70% going to girl students (the most vulnerable population making their way to school) and 30% to boys. Their distribution goal is to make local families the owners of these bikes so that on weekends and evenings the bicycle could also be used for income generating activities.

* Community schools do not receive any government funding and are paid for in full by the community. The schools are primarily operated by volunteers. Teachers are paid a small stipend, or payment will come in the form of chickens and/or vegetables. Students are asked, if they can, to pay the equivalent of 25 cents a month to help defer some of the costs of supplies.

*Basic schools receive government funding. Although these schools do receive support, they serve the same population of community schools. Students are required to pay for supplies as well.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

John's Mission: accomplished

John has been faithfully searching for a second car and at long last, he's found the car! We purchased this 1994 Toyota Surf (just like a Forerunner) from an Embassy employee who will be leaving Lusaka in March. It's manual and diesel (which is cheaper than petrol/gas) - just what John was looking for! He's received some pretty good recommendations about this car - the year, 1994, and the model. The only glitch is that the engine needs to be reuilt (thankfully, the owner was very upfront about this and lowered the price) - so it'll go into the shop next week for a three week repair job.

Once he has a car, it will enable him to get out and involved with the community - either as a volunteer or as a paid employee! No more TV and bon-bons for him!! Just kidding - he has been very busy!!

High School Musical - in Zambia!!

Today was a first:

1. We discovered there's a movie theater in Lusaka - and it looks a LOT like the ones in the states - tiered seats and all! Tickets were about $6 for me and $4.50 for the kids. Popcorn was available (no synthetic butter but they had salt and vinegar "salt" and some cheese "salt" that you could sprinkle on top).

2. High School Musical 3 was showing! Who knew it would get to Zambia so quickly...and the theater was hardly full at all!

Sophie, Peter and their friends Charis and Naomi at HSM 3

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Our Vacation to Victoria Falls

Our first family vacation - to Victoria Falls!

I went with a wonderful group of donors from Portland, who had funded water projects in Southern Zambia. It was very hot (105 degrees+) and dry and there was a tremendous need for water - both for health reasons (drinking unclean water is major cause of diarhhea and dysentery which can lead to death - especially for children under 5) and for crop production. We saw lots of borehole wells and lots of dry riverbeds where people were digging down to access water...I'll post more photos on another blog entry.

At the end of our time, the donors took a trip to Victoria Falls - and John and the kids joined me for four days.

The rainy season starts next month - so there has been almost 10 months of no rain and the Zambezi River (that feeds Vic Falls) had very little water running through it. You can see how there is only one trickle of water over the Zambia side of the falls - and to the left, the channel is deeper on the Zimbabwe side, so there is more water volume (see the water spray).

Looking down the canyon towards the Zimbabwe side of the falls

This is the famous bridge that people bungee jump off of!

John and I walked across the dry river bed and saw some amazing rock formations from the water pounding down the river.

We hope to visit the Falls again when there is water running over - and will share those photos with you - I'm sure it will be an amazing contrast. Apparently, you can see the spray for miles and when you walk where we were walking, you get drenched from the spray!

Visit to the Crocodile Farm!

We took a day trip to Kalima Crocodile Farm here in Lusaka with our friends Kristin and her boyfriend, Clinton. The farm harvests croc eggs and when the crocs reach 3 years old, they skin them and sell the skins for export. They also sell crocodile burgers at their "restaurant" - the croc tails are used for the meat.

The farm is run by a British man - and our guide said that they skin 1,000 crocs per year and get about $320 per skin. The main export market is to Asia.

They also have snakes (a favorite for John - NOT!), chameleons and a tortoise.

Peter and our guide, John, holding a python

Our guide mentioned that it was almost feeding time - and we got to witness a fairly disgusting event! The crocs are fed dead chickens - and when the workers rolled out the wheelbarrow with a big bag of dead chickens, you could smell it first - then saw all the flies buzzing around. The workers just stuck their hands into the bag and pulled out these nasty, dead chickens and threw them into the croc pits.

Yum, yum - love those chickens!

Crocodiles don't have a tongue, so they just throw back their heads to get the chickens down their throat. It's easier for them to eat the chickens in the water then to come up on land. The workers just whistled and the crocs knew it was feeding time, so they started swimming to the food!

We also saw the workers looking for croc eggs - they scared away a croc and started digging in the dirt, but there weren't any eggs there. They grab the eggs so they can incubate them in a separate part of the farm.

Take a look at the other photos:

Monday, October 13, 2008

Visit to Mother Teresa's

Sophie comforting a little guy...

A month ago, I accompanied a group of World Vision donors from San Fransisco to Mother Teresa's home here in Lusaka and Sophie joined me...

It was a touching visit. The 8 sisters who are assigned there run a community school for children from the compound and the neighboring area, care for 100+ infants and toddlers - many who are HIV positive, care for 60+ women and 90+ men.

There were twin girls TWO WEEKS OLD whose mother had died in childbirth and the father was being cared for in the men's unit. Both babies were HIV positive...

In the women's ward there were 63 women who were being cared for. They said that the women don't stay as long as the men because they are motivated to get better and get home to take care of their families - the men...well, they like being cared for I guess!! :-)

When asked if they get discouraged caring for all the patients, Sister Grace said, "we see the face of Jesus in each of the people we care for and are encouraged to keep doing good work." The sisters spend hours in prayer each day and take a vow of poverty as they live amongst the poor. They only have the clothes on their backs and their Bible - and can get called away to another home at any time. The two Sisters we met were from India (Calcutta - and had met Mother Teresa) and Madagascar.

Friday, October 10, 2008

If you recycle - but it increases alcoholism rates, is that ok?

Peter trying to negotiate a broom with two milk jugs -
but then he found out he needed four jugs

You remember how distressed we were to learn that there is no recycling in Zambia(see one of the first blog entries)? Well, there's good news: we can recycle our milk jugs!

On a weekly basis, ladies walk the streets singing “vipiango” in a very nasally voice - which means sweeper or broom (think “chim chiminey” from Mary Poppins, but not so melodic!). They carry the brooms on their heads - and as their sales increase, they have fewer brooms and more jugs to carry.

Four milk jugs buy a “sweeper” or broom. The jugs are sold to people/bars who make home made beer called “shakey shakey.” Last week, the ladies told me that one broom went for four jugs – this week, they told me it was five jugs…I think it was the muzungu (“foreigner”) price – so I told them that I only have four jugs – and they said ok. It’s good they’re open to negotiation!

I should have asked them how much they get for each jug!

If we're doing good for the environment, but cause alcoholism rates to go up, are we still doing good?

The second attempt:

Let me make sure the jugs are ok...

Ok, now you can have one of my brooms

The jugs that will go on to be filled with "shakey shakey" beer


See the hail on the umbrella?

When I left work today, it was about 95 degrees - and I thought it looked a little dark in one part of the sky…and sure enough a couple hours later, the rain came pouring down!!

It rained AND HAILED!!! I’m not a meteorologist, but I thought that it needed to be around freezing--or at least pretty cold-- for hail to come from the sky. Clearly, in the southern hemisphere, it can still hail when it's 60+ degrees out!

The rains/hail AND lightening and thunder lasted about 2 hours…we sat outside and enjoyed the rain – until it got so windy that it was blowing water and hail all over us…we retreated to the safety of our living room…

Even now, Virginia is outside cleaning up our muddy footprints on the tile verada/porch…

Peter and Mwansa waiting out the rain in the guard's house
The rain and hail on our driveway

One other side effect – that may be tied to the rains – is that we have no power…this happens on a fairly regular basis in many parts of Lusaka, but thankfully, in part because we’re around the corner from the President’s house, we don’t lose power that often (so far it’s been 3 times in the 2 months we’ve been here). Many other folks we know lose power on a regular basis for many hours at a time.

The last time we lost power, we didn’t even have any candles…but we did have our headlamps so we walked around the house with our headlamps on! Now, at least we're prepared with one candle and matches...and our headlamps!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Mysterious Disease in Lusaka...

It's not every day that we get a message from the Embassy telling us about the mysterious deaths of three people from Lusaka...thought you'd be interested in reading this...

This Message is related to recent rumors regarding an illness that took the life of a Lusaka resident and her caregiver. The Embassy believes that this illness does not pose a significant threat to the American community in Lusaka or across Zambia at this time. Provide below is the text of an official notice published by the Zambian Ministry of Health Monday, October 6.

The Embassy will continue to monitor events and will share information through the warden network as necessary. Should an American citizen experience a health emergency, the Embassy recommends that they seek immediate medical attention. If necessary, the Embassy can be reached at 260-211-250-955 on a twenty-four hour basis.

Briefing on the Reported Deaths of Patients from an Unknown Illness

The nation is being informed that the Government of the Republic of Zambia through the Ministry of Health has received information of an unknown illness which so far has claimed three lives.

The first person to suffer from it was a female South African that was resident in Zambia who fell sick about 4 September 2008. She was evacuated to Morningside Clinic where she later died on 13 September 2008.

The second victim was a paramedic that had escorted the patient to South Africa. The third victim was a nurse based at Morningside that attended to the first patient. Unconfirmed reports indicate that the driver of the ambulance that ferried the patient from Lanseria Airport to Morningside in South Africa is presently in a critical condition.

All these patients developed a fever, cough and bled from various parts of their bodies.
Laboratory investigations so far done do NOT point to any particular known disease. However, the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is still carrying all the necessary investigations. In the meantime, all the contacts are being traced, and so far, of all those identified, none of them is in danger.

Note that none of our health facilities here in Zambia has reported such an illness.

The Government of the Republic of Zambia through the Ministry of Health would like to assure the nation that the situation is under control and is being given the special attention that it deserves and would like to appeal to all members of the public to remain calm.

It is from the foregoing that international and local travel, both air and road, trade and commercial services in and out of the country should continue as usual.

Members of the public are also cautioned that any suspicious case presenting with fever, cough and bleeding from any part of the body should be reported to the nearest health facility.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sophie's Safari Report

Hippos in the river

I'm back from my safari! it was so much fun! here is what i did:
game drive
night drive
boat ride
camp activities

On my first day i got up very early to get on the road for the game drive. on the game drive, we saw puku, impalas, warthogs, hippos, monkeys, and alot of birds! we were out in the middle of no where looking for animals for about 8-9 hours!

The second day, we stayed at the camp (Treetops) and did activities. we did an egg drop where you have to make something so that when the egg drops, it doesn't splat! then at 4:00 p.m. we went on a night drive. on the night drive, we saw all the stars and the moon! the stars were so amazing! when you look up, you see just a whole sky of stars! we were out at night for about 4 hours! why so early? well, later in the day, my teacher mr. kys and some of my classmates got stuck in the sand! they were stuck for about 6 hours! they ran out of water quickly. then, my other teacher ms. johnson got the satellite phone (no connection) and called every camp and lodge! but they came back and we went on our night drive! they were covered in dirt and dust! they looked like they were pitch black!

The third day, my group went to a lodge called lufupa lodge and we went on a boat ride. on the boat ride, we saw crocodiles, fish eagles, and hippos! after the boat ride, we went swimming! but the water was green! we also had cold water! at treetops we didn't have cold water! so it was a blessing that the ice at lafupa was free!

The last day! :( on the last day, we packed up our things, ate breakfast, and loaded the buses! it was 9 hours! ahhhh! after that, we headed out of the park witch toke about three hours and to Lusaka it was 6 hours. we left at 8:00 a.m. and arrived at my school at 4:30 p.m.! when my mom and dad picked me up, we went straight to a store and bought fantas and diet coke! treetops was so much fun!

Here are the photos I took on my trip:

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sophie Goes on Safari!!!

Sophie standing in front of all the luggage

Sophie left Monday for a week-long field trip to Kafue National Park - Treetops Schools' Camp -- a 7 hour drive from Lusaka. The two 6th grade classes are going to the northern part of the park - an area covered by miombo and mopane woodlands, with occasional open grassy plains. There are also hardwood trees including sausage trees and baobabs. The classroom at Treetops is dwarfed by a huge baobab tree, which is hundreds of years old.
There are over 400 species of birds including martial and fish eagles, crowned and wattled cranes, saddle-billed storks and hornbills, kingfishers and babblers. Kafue also has antelopes - puku, impala,kudu, bushbuck, hartebeest, defassa waterbuck, sable, roan, lechwe, oribi and blue wildebeest. Also there are elephant, buffalo, zebra, hippo and crocodile.
One of the two 6th grade teachers is a safari guide when he's not teaching, so you know the kids are going to see a LOT of animals - during the day AND at night (for night drives).

It's quiet here at home (not so much arguing between Sophie and Peter) - and we miss Sophie, but know that she's having an opportunity of a lifetime! Sophie will write on the blog when she returns!

Here's some photos of the group (34 kids, 6 adults) as they get ready to go.

Food for the trip - the teachers and kids will do the cooking for the week.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Saturday Market at the Dutch Reformed Church

There isn't a lot of action here in whenever there's something happening, everyone shows up since we're all excited to go somewhere!

That is the case with the monthly Saturday Market. Held the last Saturday of each month, it is "the place to see and be seen" as one person told me. The ex-pat community is so small in Lusaka, that you're bound to see several people you know!

There are lots of crafts and food booths. People love to visit, hang out, barter with the vendors and buy stuff. The variety is interesting: plants, fruit, veggies, spices, wooden carvings, fabric, fancy pastries (a french bakery sells croissants and ciabatta), wire and beaded animals, etc.

The kids each get 5,000 kwacha (about $1.50) to spend - Peter bought a wooden giraffe and the carver had to add the eyes and Sophie, for the second time in a row, opted to buy cotton candy (which you'll see in the photos).

Friday, September 26, 2008

The African Community

We've had our first experience being part of the African community.

Here, everyone is part of the community and the general feeing is that we all share and give of what we have...If you have more than I do, then you should give some to me. And, there's never any harm in asking you for stuff - for your watch, shoes, money, food, etc. You'd want to share with me since we're all one big family!

Well, our night guard, Goodson came to the door the other night asking me for mealie meal - the ground corn that they use to make their staple dish: nshima. I told him I didn't have any mealie meal, that we didn't eat it...then he said, "well, that's ok if you don't have it, can you loan me 50,000 kwacha (about $15) so I can buy some?"

We got some advice from friends that however we chose to respond to these types of requests (and we would get lots of them) we had to remember that we'd need to continue to respond in the same way to subsequent similar requests. And that IF we "loan" someone money, don't ever expect to see it paid back.

I made the decision to not give Goodson money because I knew it would open the floodgates for him to ask every month (or week!) for more...

If we paid him for his services, I probably would have given him an advance on his pay- but since World Vision pays for the guard service, I knew I'd have to consider this "loan" a gift since it would never be repaid.

The next thing we learned from Virginia, our housekeeper, was that a metal post from her yard had gone missing. This was the night after Goodson had asked for the food/money. He was the only person who had access to the back of the house so after talking with Virginia, World Vision and my boss, we all determined that it was best to fire Goodson.

However, we told him that if he brought the pipe back we wouldn't tell his company - and he could keep his job. Well, if he really needed the money, which it sounds like he did, I'm sure the pipe was long gone!

Until we get a new guard, Goodson has been here - but he knows that he'll be fired and seems to be very sad... With such a high unemployment rate, it's hard to make a decision like this that affects a life. But the reality is that he could continue to lift items that belong to us - and then what? People told us not to tolerate - or accept - theft.

Later that same week, we were on a family walk and a woman stopped me to tell me about her 14 year old daughter who had gotten pregnant - and could I help with her daughter's baby. I guess any expat is open game for seeking help and asking for money...

Welcome to the African village!

We're all sick!

This week, something caught up with us... and we all got sick.

Peter started it off with coughing and achiness last Friday (a week ago).

Sophie was out of school on Monday and Tuesday - John took her to the clinic on Tuesday - they said they thought it was something she ate so gave her a low level antibiotic.

Miyon went to work on Tuesday, then felt so sick that she cancelled her meetings, came home and ended up throwing up (then feeling better!). She started on some cipro (antibiotic) we had brought with us - since this was going on nearly 2 weeks of feeling something brewing in her stomach, figured it's better to just kill it - and not worry about the effects of too many antibiotics!

Then John caught it - and threw up 5 times on Thursday... he's now on the mend...

Now, we're on round 2:

This morning I was driving the kids to school (because John still doesn't feel well today) - and we were nearly there when I hear what sounds like a water bottle being tipped over...

No - instead it was Peter who had just thrown up in the car. Naturally, the smell alone causes a chain reaction and Sophie almost threw up out the window (thank goodness she was smart to put her head out the window!). We rushed home, got Peter out of the car, wiped the inside of the car down a bit, then back up to school to drop Sophie off (who still made it before the bell) - and I took off for work!

I was carpooling today and had to drive with the windows down to air the car out. As luck would have it, today is one of the hottest days yet - so the wonderful smell of getting into a 90+ degree car with the leftover smell of barf...well, you get the picture!!

Let's hope we all get better this weekend!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Peter's New Hairdo!

Peter decided his long hair was too hot (especially since he has to wear a hat during PE) and so I cut off his Beatle's hair do...



Photos of Lusaka:
We went driving "downtown" on Sunday and gave the kids the camera so they could take photos of Lusaka. I had to delete most of them because I don't even know what the images were! Even the ones that are here don't make much sense to me... but they do show you a bit of Lusaka. Just so you know that lions aren't walking down the street and that we do live "in the city", here are some VERY random photos: