Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Three Years in Three Days

There is a saying used in Zambia when long awaited visitors arrive, “Tikulandirani ndi manja a wiri,” “We welcome you with two hands.” Well, I think on this trip Zambia welcomed me back with two feet….a 14 hour day on the bus to get back to my village. That would be 7 hours just waiting for the bus to fill and then a 7 hour bus ride, squished like sardines, with only bananas to eat and a fear of drinking anything due to a fear of not knowing when the next pee break would be. Ahhh….. Zambia, I have arrived!
I decided to throw myself right in and spend the first day back in my village with my family. It was great to see how the village has changed and how it has stayed exactly the same (some houses are still standing and some are not, there’s a new borehole and about a thousand new kids, cell phones are everywhere, and the girls still play netball on Saturdays). I was fed like a queen with chicken, goat, kapenta (small dried fish), eggs, bread, rape (a green leafy veg), rice, and most importantly, their staple food (and once mine), nshima (maize meal cooked into a hard lump)…. Oh yeah! So THAT’S how I gained 25 pounds when I lived there! The day was great… they didn’t want me to leave and I didn’t want to go.
I spent the next day visiting with NZP+ (see My First Scoop for details). I was welcomed warmly, but then quickly told of the problems they still face and asked how I could help. Since I left, they have received funding from two donors for office reconstruction, office supplies and even workers salaries…things we only dreamed of having when I was there. I just wish they could have stressed more about the improvements they have made rather than about how much they still have to do.( Note: This was not a surprise to me and I do understand the thinking behind it. It was more my personal frustrations getting the best of me “Look how far you’ve come! Remember what it was like a few years ago?! Be proud!” When in reality they are thinking “The funding won’t last forever and yes, we have a new office, but what about transportation to get to the remote villages that need us most? And what about all the orphans who are now joining our groups? How do we get them school uniforms and blankets?” When you don’t have much you do what you can to get as much as you can from wherever you can. I am coming from a country seen as having a lot of money to just give away… of course it makes sense to ask for some of it.) This is the struggle I remember all so well while living in Zambia: what I think should be vs. what really is. I always lost that struggle. I am proud of the work being done and hope that the successes they have had can empower them to keep going… and yes, I will be there to help them.
I spent my last day with the women’s group at CINDI (Children in Distress). When women in Zambia come together, they create an energy that cannot be found anywhere else. I was definitely welcomed with two hands here, fed like a queen again, and even given gifts to take home. CINDI also struggles with funding for their organization, but somehow they get by. Their preschool for the orphans had to close due to lack of funds, but they still find ways to assist the community in getting the orphans into school, clothing them and feeding them. We sang and danced and celebrated all afternoon.
Going back to Katete after three and a half years was definitely bittersweet (more sweet than bitter though!). The most difficult part was cramming three years of my life into three days. Katete will forever be my home and the people I visited with over the past three days reminded me of that from the minute I arrived to the minute I left.


  1. Love seeing you back there! Looks like it was a great visit!!

  2. I love the pictures and commentary. You look very happy. Continue to grow and thrive on your continent.