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