Difference

I’m sat in a classroom in Kayuhembe Basic School right in the middle of the remote town of Mwinilunga in North Western Zambia. (check out the gps reference in this post) 30 people sit around. Cornelius is speaking about Psalm 1 and the importance of having the right fruit as a Christian, the importance of making a difference. That’s after all why we are here, to help people make a difference.

In the background I can hear the many sounds of African life. The thump thump of a probably the biggest speaker in the world is pulsating through the town. Children laughing, people going about their everyday business.

I was very aware last night whilst camping here that a lot of the experiences I have are very varied, rich and really quite vibrant. I am very privileged to have them and maybe I can share some of them here. Having them whilst fun, does take a toll sometime though. Last night I found myself feeling incredibly homesick, and I wasn’t sure if that was for mkushi here in zambia or the UK.

On the way here yesterday, on the endless road that runs from Solwezi to Mwinilunga, we came across an Egyptian guy that had broken down. He had a flat tyre, but his jack was broken. Stuck in the middle of nowhere. We stopped. We helped him and he was in his way. Imagine if no-one had stopped. He would ha e been there for hours. We passed one car in 3 hours. He could have been there for days………

Last night the night watchman in the school was in a bit if a flap. No one had told him that we were camping at the school. He didn’t mention anything to us, instead he went off to get an army officer. Later the officer turned up, and was questioning me as to why we are here. It all boiled down to trust and initiative. The watchman couldn’t ring the deputy head, who did know we were coming, he also couldn’t make a decision on his own. He was fearing for his job, his livelihood. The army officer could see there was no problem, but if the watchman had been trusted or been encouraged to trust his own judgement, the situation would never have happened. Never been interrogated by the army before……..

Africa is also very loud. About 400m from our camp is a food shop. Dark, dingy and lacking in stock, nevertheless it is there. There ,is also a speaker the size if a man there. The whole town also knows about the speaker, From 7am until 10pm is is there every day. These things used to annoy me, now I have just got used to them. I like my peace and quiet. I have to shut myself in my tent, put my headphones in and play my own music to do that.

Bathing can also be fun. Africa us also very dark. At the school here, there is grass in the middle that is in full view if the town. Last night, without a bathroom we got a bath in the middle of the green, in full view. It was so dark that no one noticed.

In all of this “experience” and interest, real people are working out real lives often in very real circumstances. As I’m writing this, Cornelius has just said, “this stuff is life changing” and that’s the point. Changed lives, changed people, changed communities. That’s why we are here, that’s why I go through all of these experiences, simply to act as a catalyst to make it happen. I know that I am making a difference.

Location:T5,Mwinilunga,Zambia

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Stories of The Everyday

Rather than give you some killer insight (and who says mine are killer………..), or regale you with a story, I thought I would try and help you to understand what life is like here in Africa, through a number of story snapshots. When I am back in the UK, people struggle to sometimes know just what I am going on about because they have no context. So here are a number of very short excerpts which will hopefully help you to understand a little more of normal life here.

The Long Road

“Hit another pothole. Sounds like I really smacked the suspension that time. It seems like everyday I hit something. It can be on a dirt road where there are so many undulations and holes, it’s like finding your way through a maze, trying to keep your tyres on the good bits. Sometimes you can even be on a good road, cruising at 120km/h, then smack, a surprise hole gets you again. Thing is, the roads here are so long and so varied, that you are bound to smack something on every journey. They sometimes seem to go on for ever. I swear there are some places in Zambia where the roads go off into the horizon. When travelling you just dig in and keep going…..”

Gillian and The Body Parts

“Gillian it’s such a long way home going that way, why are you not taking the tractor home? “I don’t want to walk by the Celtel tower” But why not? It’ll take you ages that way. Tell you what I’ll drop you by Chengelo School. That way you haven’t got as far to go. “The I still have to go by the Celtel tower”. Oh! yes you do, why don’t you want to go that way anyway? “There are stories of men killing people and taking their body parts for witchcraft. I don’t want to be one of them.” Does that really happen up by the Celtel tower? “yes it does” Gillian said…….

This story seems unbelievable but it is a conversation I had with Gillian who works for Jude and I here in Zambia.

The Big Silence

“There is no moon tonight, so outside it is very dark. I literally can’t see anything. As I walk outside, the stars are resplendent. You can see every shooting star, every glimmer of every distant galaxy. The milky way looks so beautiful, spreading itself across the sky like a great work of art on canvas. I gaze up at this cosmic show, appreciating the stillness and the silence….. The silence is one thing I don’t experience in the UK, no cars, no chatter, no buses or neighbour’s TV’s. Just me and sometimes when it’s hot, the crickets, chirping away, the hotter it gets, the loud they chirp.

Tonight, it’s different, it is still, quiet. miles from anyone. If you are born in Africa, you are used to it, if you are a European like me, it can fill you with awe or make you feel very lonely. Occasionally the sound of the TAZARA train on it’s way out of Zambia to Dar – Es – Salaam interrupts the silence and shows me that I’m not that far away from the ‘normal’ world. There have been times when I’ve been out in the bush and wandered if I am the only living soul close, only for a whole village to emerge out of the long grass. The Silence is one of Africa’s best assets and one of the things I enjoy most about the continent. A good sunset, braai and being out in the open is probably the best way to experience it, and to to let it enrich your soul. For in the silence, I really do believe, God is found…”

That’s it for this week. Over the next couple of months I’ll write a few more of these excerpts and who knows, maybe you’ll learn a thing ot two about Africa…….