Well, I am happily back in my village (I arrived back last night just before sunset), and I’m once again writing you via my Cell. It’s an interesting feeling being back for these next two weeks. Doing the final rounds of checkup and looking after a few loose ends. I’ll tell you it’s really something thought provoking and interesting. I am awed and inspired by the love, care and friendliness of the Zambian people. There hasn’t been a single day in the two years that I’ve been in Zambia that I have not been impressed by the honest affection, brotherhood, and friendship they live on a daily basis. I’ve been greeted by at least 50 people, and had a steady stream of folks coming by my hut to visit me and welcome me back to the community. I biked over to my clinic this morning, greeted the staff, looked over some monthly reports, and am now at 9:30 am, tucked away in the screening room writing up this note.
A couple of the kids that came to greet me this morning:
I’ll keep it short, because… even though I am a little overwhelmed right now, to be honest, I have a lot of catching up to do! I need to be seen, and more importantly I need to greet my friends! There’s something that is deeply touching about that cultural aspect here in Zambia. Greeting is a necessity, it doesn’t matter if you know someone or not, you must acknowledge them, greet them, be polite and friendly, and then continue on your way. It’s really something.
Last week I finished up the last of my preparations at the training site in Chongwe, and after working hard with the team to make sure we were prepared and well situated in terms of materials and planning for each session, we wrapped up the last few sessions and began the hardest part of all, waiting for the Volunteers to arrive and begin their training. It was a great moment, because it was a culmination of the hard work of an excellent team, that I can only say I was proud to be a part of. We worked hard, we looked after the needs of the program, and I know our trainees will appreciate it.
The training team was a mixture of experiences, cultures, and irreplaceable knowledge and expertise. Danny and I brought real life application, and the volunteers viewpoint and experience in the field, Yona, Mr. Simon, and Mr. Goma brought their experiences working for the Ministries, cultural expertise, and a vast amount of technical knowledge. Together we worked hard and crafted a training program and series of sessions that will allow the volunteers to learn the information, adapt to it, then adapt it to their own experience, apply it, and master it by teaching it back to us, and to their community. We focused on real experiential learning, application over theory, and realistic delivery techniques. Filling each session with anecdotal experience, and focusing on how they can bring that information and encourage sustainable behavior change and human capacity building to their communities. We reached out to our partner NGOs and set up meetings and visits with them so our trainees will know their strategic goals, current programs, and can build real relationships and linkages between community members and their programs, encouraging more development at the most rural levels – where it can do the most good.
We were ready for our trainees to arrive, and on the 14th of June, they made it safely. After a quick three day visit out to a currently serving volunteers site, they came back yesterday to their lodge, and are now being moved to their respective training sites, introduced today to their host families, and being issued their bicycles. I’m keeping abreast of the situation, carefully still involved, even as I focus on my own community and my last weeks here at site.
I arrived yesterday to a dusty, but secure hut. No real issues with termites, or damage. It’s been windy, and strangely people are starting the burning cycles early, which is only encouraging the massive dust storms. As a result it was a dampened scarf tightly wrapped around my mouth and nose kind of night as I swept and dusted my hut, shook out and beat the dust off my linins, and cooked up a fantastic dinner of pasta, soup, and soy beans.
Here’s a peak at my hut!