Monday, October 1, 2007

Race Course

Race Course is a compound where my new friends Richard, Mirinda, and Anthony live (they are 20, 18, and 14 respectively). They live with their grandmother and are "double orphans" (this is what children call themselves who have lost both parents). Richard invited me to attend the class he teaches on Saturday mornings (mostly life-skills and HIV prevention) and I admit I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Picture me and about 20 other Zambian kids between the ages of 12 and 18 all crammed like sardines onto little benches outside a shabby stone community center. Richard proceeded to offer a 1 hour lecture on human growth and development (using lots of hand motions to make sure I understood what was going on). Hysterical. I hadn't been in a sex-education class in about 15 years!

After the class a herd of kids and I paraded through the streets (little people pour out of the wood work when a mazungu comes to visit) to go to an HIV "sensitization" performance. Girls danced to drums and a small group of youth performed a skit encouraging the community to embrace the sick in their midst, rather than leave them to suffer alone.

No one in Race Course has running water or electricity, but the compound is full of life and laughter. Women twist one another's hair into braids while children make toy cars out of wire and plastic jugs. Boys and girls sell eggs, vegetables, and cellphone minutes in small huts built with chicken wire and cedar planks.

Anthony made nshima, which is a Zambian favorite (maze meal porridge usually eaten at lunch and dinner). He offered to share, but I know that he and his siblings budget about 3000 kwatcha a day for food (75 cents USD), so I politely refused. Humbling, is it not?

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