Sunday, February 22, 2009

My Co-Workers

I've had some interesting conversations with three of my co-workers. After talking with the first one about the death of his sister in law I thought "that's a tough situation" - then I hear about another staff who tells me that his brother in law is beating his own mother and I think, "wow, that's rough" - then the third has to go to court to try and get back payment for rent from one of the family rentals.

I began to wonder: is this normal life in Zambia - filled with these types of tragedies - or is it harmonic convergence that all these situations took place within two weeks of each other - and all with my staff...

Death of a sister in law: one co-worker's brother and sister in law were married for 13 years. She had been drinking more and more...they say she took her own life by drinking poison. The tragedy is that her family is blaming my co-worker's brother for her death saying he killed her! To add insult to injury, her parents came back to the brother to say that he owed them several thousand dollars from the original dowry...why they never collected it before is unknown.

Mom beating: Anothe co-worker is newly married living with his wife, her brother and their mother. He asked me for permission to go to the clinic - when I asked why, he said that his hand was injured from beating up his brother in law. When I asked what happened, he said that his brother in law had come home drunk and started beating up the mom and pushing her around. He stepped in to help out and hurt his hand in the process (this guy is a skinny 20 something guy and I doubt he's ever hit anyone !). After this altercation, the brother in law was sent up north and since then has apologized and said he would mend his ways! His drinking/drug habit was so bad that he was stealing stuff from the family members to sell for cash for drugs/drink.

Rental: My third co-worker has been a volunteer for World Vision for the past several months. He needed time off to go to court to represent his family to get a renter to pay back rent. He seemed to feel the court system would work...I wasn't as confident! As an aside, this young man (28 years old) comes to work every day in a tie - and I found out that he was only making 30,000 kwacha a day (about $6) - that amount is what they pay for daily laborers! I had to fight for him to get a he's making 70,000 kwacha (about $14 a day)...once this global financial crisis is over, I'll definitely be pulling for him to become a permanent employee - he's a great worker!

These three situations made me realize that life is hard here, even for "professionals" - every day brings a different challenge and yet they are able to adapt, adjust and move on. Their faith and their willingness to keep moving are an inspiration.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Victoria Falls - again...

I had the wonderful opportunity to go to Victoria Falls - again - but just for the weekend. A World Vision U.S. colleague was here doing some work for World Vision Zambia and wanted to see the Falls. Because the drive is so long we opted to fly (1 hour flight vs 8 hour drive!).

The pilot took a rare turn OVER the falls, so I captured it from my seat - it was really amazing to see it from the air - it gave me a better perspective on the length of the falls.

The mighty Zambezi River flowing down into Victoria Falls (right).

Victoria Falls - the road in front goes to Zimbabwe and over
the gorge (center) there's a bridge where the
crazy people bungee jump!

Can you see the double rainbow?

We went on a game drive through the smallest game park in Zambia and didn't see much wildlife. When we commented on this to the bell hop, he "oh did you see the zebras and giraffes that are on the hotel grounds?" What??? He drove us around the hotel property in a golf cart and lo and behold, we saw zebras nibbling the grass at the hotel next to ours.

Our hotel - the Zambezi Sun. Unfortunately, didn't have enough free time to lounge, but it was a beautiful hotel and close enough to the Falls that we could walk there from the hotel.

Sophie's first school dance

Sophie and her friends - Sophia (L) and Sophie (C)
(what a trio: Sophia, Sophie and Sophie!) before the dance.

How did we get old enough to see our kids go off to a school dance??? The American School had a middle school dance - only 6th, 7th and 8th graders...The girls had a good time - it sounded like the girls danced with the girls - and the boys...well, they were boys!