The Play 4 All cake Jenny made
This past Saturday I attended the opening of a community project that my friend Jenny has been helping to organize. Play 4 All will be providing structured play three mornings a week for children who are unable to attend school. In the community where the project is located it is estimated that there are about 5,000 school aged children who are unable to attend school, mostly due to lack of monetary resources (the cost of sending one child to school here is about the equivalent of $100 US). The children are left to their own devices and often put in charge of caring for their younger siblings. Even early elementary age children can be seen with a toddler in their care. With the help of about a dozen local volunteers, Play 4 All hopes to provide fun, socialization, and learning to the children of this community.
Ready to play!
The event on Saturday began with games for the children. Within half an hour of us arriving to set up, about fifty children had gathered near the small two room building that has been built for Play 4 All. With the help of the volunteers Jenny and I led games of Duck, Duck, Goose (adapted to Bird, Bird, Dog in the local language of Bemba as Ichoni, Ichoni, Imbwa), Simon Says, and many more. After the games we all gathered together for the program. To start things off the volunteers danced in and sang to celebrate the opening of Play 4 All. Then there was a prayer, several speeches by different members of the community, drumming and dancing, and even a few skits. By the time everything was in full swing there were several hundred people gathered, mostly children. The festivities closed with a prayer and food. The special guests (representatives from local churches and organizations) were served soft drinks, cake, and cookies. I made sugar and oatmeal raisin cookies for the occasion. The children received bread rolls and a local drink called munkoyo.
Jenny leading Simon Says
Playing with the kids
The volunteers dancing
Jenny and Ernest speaking
More dancing and drumming
Leaving the community with the Lunds we had an improptu parade
You see these trucks on the highway here escorting vehicles that are of abnormal size or load. Recently I have been feeling like one of these trucks should be driving ahead of me wherever I go. For the last couple weeks I have been feeling on edge and easily irritated. This is unusual for me and has lead to a downward spiral of getting irritated, then feeling frustrated, more irritation about being frustrated, and so on. The littlest things have been getting under my skin. Over the Christmas holiday I was able to live in my own world, doing what I wanted to do and mostly spending time with international friends or by myself. The compound was also very quite and all the schools were on break. Now that I am back at work and the students are back I am having to deal more directly with the Zambian culture again. One of the things I find challenging is the level of noise. Life here can be very loud. Music is loud and ever present, people speak loudly, even the birds seem loud. For a good introvert who appreciates her quiet time at work and home this has been one of my major sources of irritation. I know that this is partly my own quirkiness and partly culture shock, but I am praying that this phase passes quickly. This is part of the experience of being here for the year and learning how to live and work in a new context. I am learning to appreciate the noise as a sign of life and keeping my iPod close at hand when I need noise of my own choosing.
We are now well into rainy season here in Zambia and new life is bursting out of the earth! The vibrant green of grass and tree is dotted by the colorful flowers of Zambia. There are so many varieties of flowers here, my favorites are the roses which seem to be everywhere. Instead of trying to describe their beauty, I took some photos to share with you. Enjoy!
We started back at work this week, but one of the TEEZ staff is not here. Muyunda has been a dedicated worker with TEEZ for 10 years, but his time here has come to an end. Muyunda’s job title was “General Worker” and was quite a suitable designation. Muyunda helped with whatever needed to be done around the office – maintainance, organizing course materials, running errands. He is very trustworthy and a hard worker and he will definitely be missed here. We had a farewell lunch last Thursday and the tone was very bittersweet. It was obvious that Muyunda is loved by his colleagues, family, and friends who are all sad to see him go but proud of him at the same time.
Muyunda is leaving TEEZ in order to pursue priesthood in the Anglican church. He has already moved to Malawi to attend theological college for the next three years. As much as we will miss him here at TEEZ, I am sure his family will miss him even more. His wife and three young daughters will remain here in Zambia while he is away studying in Malawi. Please pray for Muyunda and his family as they enter into this time of study and separation. Also, please pray that more men and women like Muyunda will be raised up to lead the church in Zambia.
The Director speaking about Muyunda (seated in the center)
For the past six weeks I have been taking care of the Lund’s dog, Hoolie, while they have been away. About a month ago I began to suspect that Hoolie may be pregnant and even had her looked at by a vet, but he could not tell. So I had been wondering and wondering whether or not she actually was pregnant. This past Tuesday morning when I arrived at the Lund’s house my question was answered - I was greeted by a bewildered Hoolie and four little pups.
The puppies are very cute and Hoolie is a good mom. There are two brown puppies and two black puppies, one girl and one boy of each of the colors. I have given them temporary names – the brown boy is Buster, brown girl Emma, black boy Colby, and black girl Little Bit (she is the runt of the litter). The brown ones are bigger and make more noise than the black ones, while the black ones are more snuggly but hold their own at feeding time. Their eyes are not yet open but they are finding their way around well. I have spent several hours this week just watching them roll and scoot around. Colby even managed to get up on all four paws yesterday. The Lunds come back tomorrow, so I will be relieved of puppy patrol, but I am sure I will still go to visit them often. I have been ringing in the new year with new pups, I hope your new year is off to a good start as well.
Buster and Little Bit