Saturday, September 27, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
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!
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
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: http://picasaweb.google.com/miyonkautz/LusakaCityDrive
Sunday, September 14, 2008
They have 14 people living in their compound, but only 3 mosquito nets... thankfully, they know to put the most vulnerable people: those with HIV/AIDS under the nets. Members of the community said that they noticed a sharp decline in cases of malaria once they put up their mosquito nets - but you can see that more are needed...
Here's a link to more photos from my trip: http://picasaweb.google.com/miyonkautz/ChikankataVisit
When you look at the kids - don't think they're American... Peter told us that there is only one other American kid in his class!
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Shopping at Shoprite
We have our local small grocery store: Melissa's that has pretty decent prices. It's almost always busy, but more like a family run grocery store. I wish I was brave enough to take a photo of the meat counter (but there's always someone hovering nearby!): it's an open counter (that I think is refridgerated, but it can't be very efficient since there is no cover over the top) but there are hunks of beef, sausages, etc. just sitting out in the open. Nothing is sealed...it just looks bad and you know the meat can't be good for you...
Vegetables for sale at Melissas
Every Tuesday is Tuesday Market (pretty clever with names, eh?). This is a very fun day to do our vegetable and fruit shopping. As you can see there are lots of vendors all with their wares on the ground. It's hard to decide which person to shop from...one World Vision staff member told me that he chooses either older women (widows) or young women with children because he figures they need the money the most.
In the few weeks we've been here, I already have a pattern: we buy our bok choy (chinese cabbage), spinach, bean sprouts and sometimes tofu from the chinese folks in the corner. Then buy our fruit (apples, pears and oranges) from the lady who has fruit from South Africa. Our housekeeper, Virginia (who always comes along to carry my bag) thinks I'm getting ripped off and that I should bargain more. But, when I'm only saving about 15 cents per kilo, it hardly seems worth it to dicker over the price. Maybe I'll try harder in future shopping expeditions.
I did notice that Virginia likes to come along but doesn't buy anything. She does, however, get some freebie handouts from what I buy. My guess is she must be telling the vendors: hey, this lady is spending more money than she has to, so give me some free bananas, ginger, or whatever she happens to need that day. So, the last couple times, she's taken home some additional fruit/veggies that she hasn't had to pay for...not too bad...
There are lots of Zambians, Chinese, Indians, other middle easterners (women completely covered in black with just their eyes showing) who are there with their baskets dickering over the price of various items. It's pretty interesting to watch; I can spot the pros - they're the ones who come with their own weighing scale to make sure they're not getting ripped off!
We get there at about 7:30a.m. and are out of there by 8am...the market continues until 5pm. I can only imagine all the haggling that goes on during those hours!!
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Almost every day, Peter, Mutele (12), Mwansa (6), Billy (10) and Sophie - all pictured above - go swimming in our pool (the three brothers are our housekeeper's sons). They have a great time playing although they're never in for very long because the water is so cold. Our pool guy - that would be John !! - is still trying to figure out why the water is so cloudy... We don't think the kids will contract some disease since there is so much chlorine in it, but it would be nice to see the bottom of the pool!