Today was more of the same; hopefully we gave some good ideas

Today was more of the same; hopefully we gave some good ideas as to how to go about implementing several projects that had been identified as key. Tomorrow I will go back to Chadiza without my cycle (I thought until about noon today that it was in transit to Chipata but the vehicle supposedly wasn’t fit to ride the 500km there so it will probably be another two weeks till I get it now. Frustrating to no end.

In Chipata for a workshop in evaluating the LIFE program

Last week was a somewhat slow week as I was adjusting to being back at site and reconnecting to people I had been working with previously.
Two Sundays ago I went to my garden to see how my plants had faired since I had been away to find the little pit that I had been getting my water from was dry. Most of my plants that had been there two weeks previously were still alive though.
On Monday I met with one of the few women in my village that speaks English and we organized a meeting to see what projects Dovu village would be interested in getting underway. I also went for a walk and met the head teacher at a local basic school and we agreed to meet Tuesday as well.
However Tuesday there was a funeral so the headman and the majority of the village members were gone. I did talk to one person who worked on health education about what issues he thought should be addressed and what my areas of specialty were.
On Wednesday I planted a bunch of things in pots but didn’t do much else.
Then on Thursday I went to the BOMA. There I saw the closest volunteer in my program who was presenting a proposal to the district entrepreneurs organization about getting trash cans for the BOMA because people just through their trash wherever they feel like. They thought it was a really good idea and I found them to be people that would be good to work with. It seems you meet the best counterparts you can work with by chance. I then met with the district education resource officer who said that as it was getting near finals for this semester, no one would be able to address the internet proposal and that it would make sense to try a NGO or the local business association. I was walking out of that office to try to find one of the leaders of a local NGO (AllyNet) that I had met with when he showed up on his bike. He said that they had just gotten a computer and wanted me to set it up but it was getting late in the day so I couldn’t do it then.
Friday was going to be cleaning day because the mice had been driving me crazy at night but I didn’t know what they had been eating as everything was in containers. As I went to move one of the big zipper bags I found I had been chewed through and they had plenty to gorge on. It took four or five hours but I got the “pantry room” part of my hut clean and everything that the mice could possibly chew through is now suspended with twine from the sealing.
Saturday, my APCD, PCVL and someone from Washington were coming to meet with me and the other Chadiza LIFE volunteer for part of an assessment of the LIFE program and I thought to bring my new cycle. My cycle was not included in the things that came (some plants, a bunch of seeds and a 5L jug plus the three people). The meeting went alright and I had thought that they would be spending the night; however they said they needed to leave to go back and prepare for a workshop on Monday and Tuesday (of which I was also not aware of). After sharing some nshima with my family they left with whether I would attend the meeting still up in the air. I didn’t have any rides set up and I wanted to meet with the person who had just gotten the computer on Monday so I was fairly sure I wasn’t going to go. However I called my closed volunteer to see how they were getting there and he said that he didn’t have a ride yet but that he was going to see whether his neighbor who has a vehicle that he uses as a taxi sometimes could bring us. The volunteer was going to call me back, but service around my village is spotty at best so I never heard back from him.
On Sunday I through some things together just in case the taxi did show up and then spent the day as usual. It was getting to mid-afternoon and I had figured that the volunteer had found other transport so was just about to go to the garden when the taxi shows up. I quickly get my stuff together and we head to Chipata.
Today we had sessions addressing the findings from the meetings the person from Washington with the volunteers, then we spent the rest of the day addressing the issues the volunteers had found with our government forestry counterparts.
Tomorrow I believe will be more of the same.
Oh, I also have a cold and it’s hot.

Well, I’m now in Chipata

Well, I’m now in Chipata, took the bus back early this morning enroot to Chadiza. Hopefully everything growing that I started is still growing and is ripe with vegetables. Next week I hope to meet with some teachers at the closes school to me and plant a bunch more vegetables because I don’t foresee my needing to be out of site for longer then a couple of days until late November (thanksgiving/provincial meeting) when the rain is beginning to come. On Wednesday someone from Washington and my APCD are coming to assess the LIFE program and deliver my new cycle. Hopefully they’ve made all the modifications necessary. Alright, hope to keep bloging via cell.

Successfully uploaded 1021 photos

Successfully uploaded 1021 photos, you can see them by going to and download them by clicking on the little link down at the bottom right hand corner ( ). Going back to Chipata tomorrow and Chadiza pa Friday by bus because I guess I’ve been out of site too long but hopefully the cycle will be rideable. It is coming up on Wednesday when the LIFE program assessment person from Washington and our APCD come. I’m definitely ready to go back to site; I just wish I could make sure the cycle was exactly what I want it to be.

Well we now have Wi-Fi at the PCZ headquarters

Well we now have Wi-Fi at the PCZ headquarters although the speed is not as good as the old LAN-line one that can only be accessed on the government computers and therefore cannot be used to upload. Anyway, this means that I have a way to upload all my photos to my website the only question is whether I can get them all uploaded by the time I leave. Hopefully I can.


I’m still in Lusaka – now the estimated completion date is Wednesday. I’m ready to go back to my village just about now. I think what I’m going to do is make a photo album website like the one I made of my photos in the states ( ), then, time permitting when I go back to Chipata I will go to the Wi-Fi place and upload them there. I think I can get the total size down to under 100mb although the photos won’t be print quality. I think I will take some more pictures of my banja and try to have them printed at a photo place in Chipata or maybe there might be a place in the Chadiza BOMA and maybe also try to go into the “city” part of Lusaka and take some pictures to contrast it to the village live. In response to who cut my hair, it was a now COS’ed (Close Of Serviced) RAP (Rural Aquaculture Project) volunteer did it. She was a veteran hair cutter apparently she had cut 25+ peoples hair during her time in Zambia. While stuck here in Lusaka I’ve been spending a lot of time in the Volunteer lounge on the internet or chatting with other volunteers in other provinces. Although there is a wider range of produce in the Lusaka markets, the price is four to five times more then even in Chipata and it is cheaper to buy at the local grocery store. Fortunately that store is owned by Zambians so I don’t feel quite as bad as buying from Shopright which is a South African chain that sells throughout Sub Saharan Africa. Alright, all for now, have to go email my sister and wish her a happy birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY CARA!!!

Well I will be in Lusaka for about a week

2008 09 02
Well I will be in Lusaka for about a week while the cargo-trike is being created. Being in Lusaka feels like I am in a different country from the village. Lusaka is kind of like Hartford would have been like in the 1990’s if it didn’t have any environmental regulations on vehicles. Whereas the village is kind of like the US in the frontier towns of the 1800’s (save for prevalence of cell phones, radio and plastic bags/bottles). Lusaka actually has sky scrapers and strip malls. I will try to take some pictures of the city this week so that it can be contrasted. We went to the machine shop around 830 and came up with a rough idea of how to convert the one speed very heavy cargo trike into something comfortably rideable on roads unpaved and sandy with steep hills. Ideally I wanted to convert it into a recumbent cycle however that required buying some more parts, which required going back to the PC headquarters to try to get the funds to go and purchase the parts. This took until lunch time and it seemed that the funs would not really be available because PC was facing a budget crunch (like every government office except for the military) so we would have to go after lunch. In the mean time I talked to some volunteers who were headed back from a vacation in Malawi. I also found that a bunch of “junk” that had been piled up since I had been here was going to be trashed or worse burned. Most of the “junk” however could have been used in schools (most of it was chairs that had a few problems with them but could be fixed very easily) or other places in need of resources. I asked, or more pleaded with a number of PC admin people however they all seemed to think it would be too much of a hassle and they had been sitting there for six months and they needed to go and that transporting them. I thought, surely in those months a volunteer could have found a place that was in need of some chairs and a vehicle that was not loaded to max to bring them but the truck had already left but anyway. I wish Sub Saharan Africa had the infrastructure to transport things using methods other then petrol but as first world countries do not, it’s a fantasy in the near future. Had lunch from the cook at the headquarters then met for a while with the APCD. At about 1500 I went back to the shop and we did a little reworking of the plan. Unfortunately we won’t be able to begin work until Thursday because Wednesday the 3rd is the day of Mwanawasa’s burial and is a national holiday so pretty much all business and a lot of roads will be closed. Got back and spent the rest of the evening on the internet.

Back in Chadi… Ur, Lusaka -Blegh

I got up about a half-hour after my alarm went off and hurried to get ready because I was going to go with my DFO (District Forestry Officer) and a few other Eastern province counterparts. However, when I got down, they had already left. I ate breakfast then went to the main rode with some other PCV’s where we took a taxi to the bus terminal. The taxi driver dropped the others at a bus to central province first, then me at a bus that he must have had a relationship with the driver. I then began to whish I had gotten there earlier when the first group of busses left because it was over three hours before it finally had enough people to depart. The ride was alright, and they showed some movies. I actually slept a little toward the end. However, when I got off and tried to get awake I walked to the cargo area where they had put my bag to find that it was not there. Panicking slightly, I talked to the driver and he said that someone had called and said that a backpack had been left at the St. Francis hospital in Katete (There was another white lady on the bus who got off there and I guess they thought the bag was hers). Hoping that the driver’s explanation was correct and that it hadn’t been stolen, I got the contact information of the bus driver and the person who had called regarding the bag and then got a taxi to the PCPH. Fortunately I had put my laptop in my small backpack I brought with me on the bus and the “Zam-bag” (somewhat sturdy zipper bags that are sold at Shopright and that everyone uses to carry groceries and just about everything else imaginable in and which are really useful) that was not taken off but the only cloths I had were what I was wearing.

I got up having gotten a relatively good night’s sleep although I was still tired and had a slow start – or actually I didn’t really start that day I think because I needed to unwind from the past week of busy schedules and the calamity that had taken place yesterday. I called the number the bus driver gave me who was helpful, and said she would call the driver. Then I txt’ed the driver to see whether he had left yet, and if so whether he had the bag, however he had not left. Still not sure as to what the status of my backpack was, some good luck came my way in the form of the PC General Service Officer (GSO) for eastern province coming and saying that he was going to pick up the Country Director because she would not be flying in on account of the late president being flown in and having a wake Monday. The hospital was on the way and he could pick up my bag, so I quickly txt’ed back the bus driver and told him not to big up my bag because someone else was. I was fortunate that he had not left and picked it up already, now the only question was whether the GSO could find the bag as I had not been able to get a hold of anyone who knew who had the bag. I then brought out my laptop and spend the rest of the day creating a CAD drawing of a cargo trike I am going to have made while half paying attention to the movies that were playing. About mid afternoon, the driver called and said that he was at St. Francis hospital but didn’t know who to ask about the bag. Fortunately someone else in the room who had spent some time there did. A little while later, he called and said that he had gotten the bag!

No one was sure whether anything would be open today, but at about 10:00 I got out and went first to the cell phone store, which was open, and got some more talk time, although I didn’t get that much because I wasn’t sure whether the bank would be open. It was and I got some more kwacha, then when to Shopright and got some eggs and spices. Most of the market was closed, and therefore the stores that were open were selling things for higher prices. I got some peppers, cucumbers carrots and a few bananas but didn’t get a ton because they were really expensive and weren’t the variety that I like. Then I went back and had a little to eat. My next stop was going to be the Wi-Fi place, but unfortunately it was closed. Feeling kind of sick, I walked slowly back, getting some more talk time on the way. That afternoon about all I could do was sit and work on finishing up my CAD drawing. In the evening, the Country Director showed up, along with my backpack. I don’t think I’m going to put my backpack in the cargo area again. I was really annoyed that I wasn’t feeling good because the rest of the volunteers had made a really good meal, and had made an apple pie for desert, but the power had gone out before they could cook it in time for it to be eaten right after the meal.

The country director, my two closest volunteers and the PCVL all loaded our stuff into the bus and left at about 800 hours. We stopped at the other education volunteer in the district’s site and had nshima with the family, then we went to the BOMA and met with counterparts that had gone to ISTT for the last two days for the program development training, one of whom was the DFO. He said that the district commissioner would like to meet the director and so we met him, then we went to my closest volunteers’ site, had lunch and finally went to my site. After the Director, PCVL and the GSO had left, I read a little bit, but not feeling that good again went to bed fairly early. I think the reason might be the water filters at the PCPH because it seems like it is nearly every time I drink water from it I don’t feel my best.

Got up, studied a little Chichewa, read a little on DC electronics, then went to the dimba. A lot of things had not survived my being away, and it looked like nearly everything had been eaten by ngonbe (cattle). Watering went quickly though because I had the help of some Zambians visiting from the Mozambique border. Having more time as a result, I started putting up some DC lights I had gotten in Lusaka. On of the men in my family was very interested and helped me put the lights up. It was very nice to actually be able to read without the use of my headset.

Today I went into the BOMA and met with members of a new organization that is just starting up in Zambia and that I think I will be able to help out a lot with. Then I went to the market and then I wrote some journal entries which I was going to try to post but the cell phone network was going slow and I kept getting Google page load errors so I was not able to post then. When I got done I biked back and started top make a salad for supper. When I had just finished making the salad, my atate/abale (father/brother [apparently the previous volunteer at Dovu and some other volunteers referred to him as their brother but I kind of think of him as a father because he has several children]) came and invited me to share nshima with their banja. In Zambian culture it is impolite to refuse nshima unless you have a very good reason not to eat it (came down with malaria, are deathly allergic to corn…). It’s a good thing that I enjoy Zambian food, although I wish they put less saladi (the Zambian [actually South African] name for cooking oil] and salt in their relish.

2008 08 29
Today I was going to make a solar stove. I somewhat cheated in that I had found one of those emergency blankets that are very reflective (was going to use aluminum foil) and spent a long time trying to make a frame to make the thin mirror like material concave. With some of the boys in my village’s help, I made a semi-semi-sphere by forming a circle out of a flexible stick, taping the reflective material over it, then putting a little bit of water in the bottom so as to make the material concave. When I put my hand over the area, it wasn’t incredibly hot and all my pots are made of unpainted aluminum so they don’t attract that much heat (somewhat silly when you think about it). I will try to get some black paint to paint the outside. After this somewhat disappointing experiment, I headed out to the dimba. When I was only a little ways on my walk there, I got a txt saying that I needed to go to Chipata Sunday to go with the GSO to Lusaka on Monday to deal with looking into getting a three wheeled cargo cycle (a pedi-cab that instead of another seat has a cargo area). This was slightly frustrating because I had just been in Lusaka and wished I had just stayed there but anyway. I quickly watered everything, not having time to transplant some tomato seedlings that were in need of transplanting because it was getting dark.

2008 08 30
Went to the dimba first thing today, calling a Chadiza-Chipata taxi on the way and transplanted a bunch of cherry tomatoes which I hope will survive when I’m away. That took until about 1400 and was fairly hungry as I hadn’t eaten breakfast. I was coming out of the dambo area (an area with a low water table that is where people cultivate) and stopped to great a family that had an adjacent dimba to mine and that of my banja. They invited me to share some nshima which was nice. Then I went back and didn’t have that much motivation, however I finally got up enough to pack and eat some of my perishable food. It is officially the hot season and I was in that transition phase. Therefore I didn’t really feel like eating… or drinking… (although this I needed to do as I was sweating like crazy) or doing much of anything.

2008 08 31
Woke up at 400 and hurriedly got ready, was just starting do drink my cup of coffee when my ride showed up about a half hour early. I hurriedly downed my mug, then got in the vehicle and headed off. We picked up five more passengers. It’s a very small car that has buckles for four passengers and we were six total, seven if you include the driver. My leg was almost asleep by the time we got there because I was sharing the front seat with someone else. I got to the PCPH about 900 and did some laundry, then washed one of the water filters because I think that’s the reason I haven’t been feeling good often when I am there. Then I went to the market, got back and put some ntochi (bananas) in the freezer for a little treat. At about 1500, the to be new volunteers (RAP [Rural Aquaculture Project] and HAP [I think Heath Action Project although the A & P could stand for something else]) showed up and we did our introductions. I will be going with some of them part of the way, then dropping them off and going the rest of the way to Lusaka mawa (tomorrow). It seems like a really nice group of new volunteers and I had nice conversations with a couple of them.

2008 09 01
Well it was about 1230 before we left for Lusaka; the PST’s got dropped off for their 2nd site visit, then the driver came back and loaded nine bikes and we left. We got in at about 2150ish and then my family called and we had a nice conversation.