Monday, February 18, 2008

Game Day in Kamatipa!

Got back from my staff retreat on Friday, although the word “retreat” is rather misleading. We had four packed days of 2008 strategic planning, so I was grateful for a WEEKEND upon my return. I went to Kamatipa for the second weekend in a row, this time to hang out with a few hundred orphans for a massive game day. There was dancing, drumming, poetry reading, and all sorts of field sports being played all morning. Reminded me of field day in elementary school (fun bordering on utter chaos).

My friend Scott (tall Mazungu pictured here with lively, Zambian Rachel) works with an NGO that planned the events of the day, targeting the orphans in two of the four compounds near my house. They estimate that 3000 orphans live in these four compounds (which does not even count Chimwemwe, the largest compound in Kitwe). Pretty staggering numbers.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Gotta love charcoal

Scotty, Jenny, and I made breakfast on the front porch yesterday in the pouring rain. The power went out (AGAIN) and we resorted to using charcoal to make eggs, coffee and toast with marmalade. Oddly like camping.

My friend Esther, from work, always laughs and tells me, "Carmen, now you know what it is like to live in a typical village!" Women walk to and fro with buckets of water on their head (a skill I will never acquire!) and I often read by candlelight at night (which sounds far more romantic than the reality).

I got a kitty!

There is a new addition to the MEF family. Meet Frankie (named for his beautiful blue eyes). I found this little ball of fuzz on the side of a road where some little boys were going to stone him to death (lots of superstition about cats here). I plucked up this little Siamese baby and promptly brought him home. My neighbor Jenny and I are going to share him.

He is quite popular with the kiddos in the neighborhood. Since I brought him home I regularly have little people at the door requesting to play with little Frankie. I had an awful week last week, so it was pretty darn nice to come home to this tiny creature who regularly insists on curling up and taking a nap on my shoulder.


On Saturday I went to a small shanty compound on the outskirts of town to interview some women about their lives in Kamatipa (Bemba for “mud”). I thought I was interviewing a couple of women, but when I arrived there were about 50 children and 40 adults gathered in a small school room, the adults eager to share their stories. A leprous man, through translation, told me that the open sores that had claimed most of his fingers and toes have not been treated in years. We walked through the dusty streets (again the heavens offered a reprieve from the rain) and I was shown home after home whose porous walls had finally crumbled as a result of the heavy rainfall.

It was a humbling day and, again, I felt like my heart was going to bleed right out of my chest. We walked the 7 kilometers back home (stopping for a black mamba that was crossing the road) and just as I reached Nakadoli Market a torrential down pour began. Thankfully I had brought a plastic bag that I wrapped around my backpack, so my camera remained snug and dry but I on the other hand was soaked to the bone. It was pretty hilarious. I had to strip down as soon as I entered the kitchen and literally rang out my clothes in the sink. Dripping. Soaked I tell you!