Real life for kids of all ages in Ngombe compound,Zambia.
This is just one little girls story that I get to interact with.
Every day this 8 year old girl wakes up at sunrise to make breakfast for her mother, father and brothers. When she is done with that she has to clean up the kitchen, wash the dishes and make the beds. Then she has to sell a basket of fruit before she is allowed to go to school. These are her responsibilities every day and has never complained one bit. Today I bought 20 bananas for basically $2.00 and she still had all this left. Her classes start at 3 and almost always makes it. Just a small reminder of how hard it is and the responsibility that is put on kids of all ages here.
So last week as I was greeting Linda (founder of Chikumbuso), Mr. Banda comes to me and says “we have a problem at Gertrude’s”. Gertrude is the Principle at Chikumbuso and lives on the property. So I excused myself from our conversation and walked back to the main area between the safe haven, the sewing room and the kitchen (yikes!). Mr. Banda shows me what looks to be the start of a sink hole. So I stepped on the concrete and it moved up and down a few inches. UGH, just what I needed. I grabbed the pic and took a couple swings and found sludge! Yup, five years’ worth of poop. The soakaway (septic) system had collapsed. I kept digging for a bit to find out that (1) the person who put this in did a half a$$ job and (2) it has not been maintained in almost five years.
I found Linda and explained the situation,. She called the man who installed it (Mr. P) and put me on the line. I asked him to come out and explain to me how this happened and what he could do about it. He sent some people and they explained that it wasn’t their fault and that I didn’t know what I’m talking about. But they are more than willing to redo the job for a price. Well, I didn’t make any new friends that day as I told Mr. P I felt it was at least 80% his fault. His reply was 10 minutes of telling me I am not a man and I should not insult him. I never got a second to talk. No worries, Chikumbuso quit using him a few years back because all his work is done poorly and only lasts a short time.
Day 1. We came up with a plan to teach some of the older school boys how to put in a proper soakaway and explained the value in doing it right the first time and your reputation will proceed you. I even offered to pay them a little something because it was a big dirty job. They agreed and we started making a plan.
Day 2. I hired a couple of local people to do some of the more (let’s say… the nasty parts) so the students wouldn’t have to be in the sludge as much. The guys who scooped out the holding tank took 120 (!) 25kg bags of waste! It took 4 hours for them to get this all out and hauled away. It was not a pleasant smelling day at all. Meanwhile, the students were digging away where the system failed (separate from the soakaway area) and filling as many bags with sludge as we could before they left. We still ended up with two full truckloads of sludge to haul away. Amazing!
On day 3. We were lucky enough to get so extra help from some of the Marines! What a huge help that was. I took two guys to go get five loads of rock, a load of sand and gravel and some cement. It sure does help to have young fit men to do all the hard stuff. The other three stayed and helped finish digging the 2.5 meter deep hole and had already started filling it by the time we got back with the 3rd load of rock. With the help of the Marines we were able to get done over a day ahead of schedule!
After a scrubbing with some bleach near the kitchen, the cooks were back at work and ready to make food for all the kids on Monday. What could have been a week or so process without all that help we turned around in 2.5 days. Thank you all.
I just love the fast and hard rain storms that roll through Lusaka. It’s a little hard to see but it’s a great rain with some incredible thunder. It does make driving a little more challenging but I’m always up for that. You cant see it but everyone even has a smile on their face.
One more month of rains and it’s back to the dry heat for 9 months. makes for a great excuse to listen to Toto “Africa” 😁.
What a FANTASTIC day! The Chikumbuso Christmas party was an experience that I won’t soon forget. The kids had a blast. They sang, they danced, put on a play, and were so thankful for the gift of friendship, unconditional love, and people just caring. Deliso made some new friends and tried his best to show them some dance moves.
Thanks to the people who sent money so we could help make their holiday better with gifts of food and clothes. The kids were grateful for the items of rice, oil, and sugar. The mayor even came out to give support with a donation of food and blankets.
I was given a chitenge (a piece of cloth) along with all the widows, mothers and teachers.
I also got a sunburn that day. Just want to rub that in for all of you freezing right now. I guess this is what I get for not buttoning the top button on my shirt. Sorry Jason I still haven’t learned.
Its always a nice surprise to get a box from home. Today when I went to pick up the mail Julie had sent a package. When I opened it up there were Christmas cards, a few gifts, some candy and even some Fiber one bars. Thanks Julie!
I loved the cards from the kiddos, even Claire sent one. How sweet.
We hung them up on the tree so we can enjoy them before we head to Cape Town for the holidays. Our tree is not your normal tree even by Zambian standards but I couldn’t resist. Its a baobab tree and I just love them so I figured why not.
It has been a few weeks now since the fire and a rebuild is underway.
What I have heard from talking with people is that the store was under-insured due to the drop in the value of the local currency–perhaps insured at 1/3rd the value of goods.
Within a few days of the fire, the owners shifted employees to their other stores or to help with the clean up and the rebuild. What a class act to not just layoff everyone right before the holidays.
The building is gutted, the roof has been removed, and all the burnt merchandise was hauled away at, what I am sure was, a great expense.
So I asked a man at the school to send me a text about what batteries were needed for the Christmas party so I could bring them before the start. This is the the text. Small batteries are AA or a ‘finger’ battery and a big battery is, I’m hoping, a D?
The Friday after thanksgiving we were up and on the road by 5 am so we could get to Kasanka National park for the bat migration. I love a good road trip and the ten hour drive North hasn’t let me down yet. The time seems to go by quickly.
On this trip we went with Ty, Francis and TianTian. We got to camp, set up and we were off to the first bat sighting of the trip. right before sunset the bats start to wake up and spread there wings. We go to the look out tower that has been built in the trees looking just over the forest. On a good day I wouldn’t want to climb up the 15 meter ladder made of cut branches with 10 people but what the hell, its safe right? Once on top my first sight of the bats was amazing and they were barely any in comparison till 45 minutes later. There are around ten to twelve million bats and they have been migrating to this area for hundreds of years. It is a dense rain forest that provides them protection from predators when they are sleeping during the day. It was quite the sight to see them all waking up and heading out to feed. The fact that they do not run into each other is amazing.
The next morning we are up at 4 am heading to another area to watch the bats come in from feeding. This was my favorite part, minus the 345 wake up time. It sure looks like a lot more bats when they are coming in! The sky was just covered as the sun rose. What an amazing site.We even had a hippo visit us right behind the camp site.