Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Story Ends...The Story Begins

I can not remember when I ate my last mango. It isn’t that I really care that much about mangoes, though Zambian mangoes are heavenly. I am bothered because it has left my memory. One of so many moments that was vivid and living at the time and is now gone forever from my mind.

Things that are now clear and bright, will they fade into gray after a few days, a few months, a few years?

Will I remember the feel of Mrs. Kapuwe wiping tears from my face? The way Beene’s face glows by the fireside? The sound of JoJo’s laugh? Will the jingle of a dog collar always make me think of Rocky outside my door in the morning? Will I remember how gigantic and pink the sun gets just before it sets here? Bertha’s ability to hang upside down in my chikuta? Will I still have ears to hear the sound of Club Mweka kids singing? Will I remember the way the sun rises over the marsh causing the mist on the grass to look like diamonds in a sea of weeds? Will I forget my “African” tree on the hill? Nambula’s eyebrow raise? The sound of chickens, birds, donkeys, goats, cows, dogs, children at all hours of the day and night? If I came back in a year would I still know every path, be able to see in the dark, and walk through the bush without fear? Will I remember the feel of a feverish Lindiwe in my arms? And Chipo’s smile? Or Busiku and Beene singing next door? Will I be able to close my eyes and picture the trillions of stars in the Zambian sky?

My Zambia has faces now. It is no longer a mass of people suffering from all kinds of calamities. It is watching Mrs. Mpongo healing people every day at the clinic. Being by her side as she is being bathed, too weak to wash her own body. It is remembering her smile, her beauty, her choices, her struggles, her funeral. Zambia fills me with frustration at what could have been, what can be.

My Zambia is Mrs. Kapuwe caring for her own children and nieces, nephews, sister-in-laws, her husband. It is listening as she talks of the pain of staying with a husband who no longer speaks to her, who is cheating on her with her “friends”. She has no way to leave, no way to complete the school she left at grade 7 when her parents died and she chose to get married. My Zambia fills me with anger at injustice, pride at the strength of friends, awe at faith that endures through hardships.

My Zambia is all of that and so much more. Too big, too deep to find words to explain it all. I am choosing not to forget. I am choosing to mourn the loss of this time in my life of living in community with these friends that I have come to love.

I am also choosing to come home, to begin life again in my country. To return to a country filled with choices and luxuries. I am choosing to find a way to reconcile these lifestyles, to cope with the understanding that Colorado Springs and Chifusa village co-exist in the same place and time. It is mind boggling.

I choose to be a voice for my Zambia, so that in some way, you also, will not forget.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Prayer for My Cousin Katie

I have been using this blog as a forum for what has been happening here in Zambia...I want to make an exception. My cousin Katie and her family are in need of your prayers and I ask you to take time to pray for her now. To learn about her situation and get updates on her health click here

Psalm 32:5-8: "Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God ; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge."


Pictures, or snaps as we call them here in Zambia, will be coming!!! It is a major pain to upload them here at the internet cafe, so I think a little multi-media effort will take place upon my return. I know pictures speak a thousand words...hopefully my words have given you a little peak into my life here and we can just top up when I get back!

28 is the New….My Age…

It came and went-my third birthday in Zambia. I can’t believe two years have passed since a chicken was slain for my 26th. The livestock got bigger for this year’s celebration, and Grace the goat is gone. This has proven to give me some slight stomach issues and an entirely new meaning to a certain Dave Matthew’s song. My village celebration actually took place on the 20th-starting with banana pancakes with Christa, an awesome Club Mweka party and then a night filled with dancing, drumming, and eating with the Kapuwe’s and Busiku. I had told the Kapuwe’s I didn’t want any presents, only “acts of love”-i.e., songs, dances, poems. Beene, Junior, and Tembo put together quite the amazing band and personalized a lot of traditional Zambian songs for me. It was so sweet. A truly unforgettable birthday celebration. Christa and I cycled into Choma the next day for my annual “what can my body still do?” challenge. We made it in record time and a shower never felt so good! I’ve been at the Smith’s since then and enjoying time with my Choma family. I look forward to celebrating with my American family in September!

Income Generating Activity/Business Skills Workshop

After lots of meeting, follow up and running around, the workshop to train 25 Home Based Care Members came about this past week. I first met with the HBC group in February to write up a proposal for funding from the Peace Corps. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the money did not come until now. But it came!

I was able to partner with the NGO CARE International to facilitate the workshop. CARE has amazing Zambian employees that really connected with all of us. Our hope is that because of the information received at this workshop people will be able to sustain the home based care program after CARE leaves Chifusa in May. By having extra income and the skills to manage that income, their families, as well as patients they care for, will have a better way of life.

There were so many highlights, from Mrs. Kapuwe sharing with everyone about her experience of going for VCT, to Omsley sharing about the Memorial Service in May. It just felt like time after time God was encouraging me and whispering that it has all been worth it. People have some great ideas, everything from raising chickens to selling buns to processing cooking oil. One man, after the first day of the workshop, told me this was everything they have needed to know! People were able to learn simple but very practical business skills-record keeping, marketing, pricing, etc.

I am so stoked that this was able to take place while I was still in the village. I only wish I had more time to monitor and follow-up with the participants. My CARE counterparts have agreed to monitor things and provide needed encouragement-hopefully they will be sending me updates.

Keep these friends in prayer as they work to put into practice some of their ideas!

Christa Christa Christa

Just as I am about to leave, Peace Corps has given me another volunteer neighbor! Ok, she lives 25k from my house, but that is a lot closer than anyone else! We have been trying to get together since she was posted in May. Due to my visitors and her infected spider bites we had to keep rescheduling, but alas we made a date.

Last weekend I cycled over to her house and we rode back to my house. It felt very much like I was in 7th grade again! “Hey, wanna go ride bikes?” Rocky came with us on the journey and was a champ, running the whole way. I was a little nervous as this was the path where I ran into pythons last year-but no problems this time!

Christa is awesome-a Girl Scout from South Dakota, she was so much fun this past week. The plan was for her to just stay the weekend but we were having such a great time she stayed until the 21st! How can you not have a great time with a girl that brings Starbucks coffee, dark chocolate and Season 4 of the Office on her IPOD? That is basically a recipe for deep devotion from me!

She is going to be a great volunteer, can’t wait to hear all that she is going to do in her village!

Neighborhood Health Committee Workshop

After lots of wonderful downtime with USA visitors, it was back to work in a major way. I have wanted to leave knowing I have given it my all, so I have squeezed about 6 months of work into the last few weeks. Ironically, just as I am leaving it seems all programs are clicking. I am encouraged that Peace Corps will place another Peace Corps Volunteer in Chifusa area to continue the development.

The second week of July, I partnered with the Health Center to train 20 Community Health Workers. The group, long in need of training, each donated maize and 10,000zkw (about $3) to cover food costs for the week. Thanks to Danielle Vaughns and crew we were able to hand out pens and notebooks to each person. The local church allowed us to meet at the church for the 5 days, and a local woman volunteered to cook nshima for us each day. It was incredible to see the community come together to make this workshop happen. Each person left knowing that they were completely competent and able to put together a training for themselves. We covered the 6 major health thrusts of Zambia-Malaria, TB, HIV/AIDS, Water and Sanitation, Safe Motherhood, and Child Health/Nutrition. I tested each person at the end of the workshop and all passed with flying colors. I was so proud! I really believe that our community is going to see an overall improvement in health based on the knowledge these people have received. With over 8,000 people in our catchment area, it is impossible for the Rural Health Center to manage the health concerns. We absolutely have to partner with these volunteer workers in order to take care of the community.

It wasn’t all business though, I definitely had quite a few laughs. Clarifying the difference between sermons (given by clergy everywhere) and semen (spreading HIV everywhere) had me just about in tears. They really do sound alike! The nurse I was teaching with kept saying “Oak her”, and I couldn’t figure out what she meant…Mad Gab skills kicked in and suddenly it was obvious she was saying “occur”. I have to laugh at these language blips as only the Lord and all my village know how badly I have butchered Chitonga over the last two years!

It was humbling to get to be a part of this workshop. People were walking over 6 miles each morning and evening to come and learn. Women were writing notes while babies were breastfeeding, giving presentations with little ones strapped to their backs. It was such a fulfilling experience to partner with these people.

Pray for these 20 men and women as they teach and treat their villages!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Home Stretch

This week I have the privilege of making sure Peace Corps Volunteers do not get deported or burn down the Peace Corps House in Choma. That I am trusted to be in charge of 25 people after burning down my toilet and doing a whole range of idiotic things over these last two years is pretty startling for a lot of you. Fear not, I am doing a stellar job.

I have been walking into town each day to check internet...I love this thing. That sentence can stand alone.

In two months from now I will be at the top of Table Mountain in Cape Town, reflecting back on these last 27 months. I am so excited for the trip. Julie, a great Peace Corps friend, and I are heading to Cape Town to stay with a family friend and enjoy South Africa. After 10 days of ocean, wine tasting, shopping, hiking bliss, we head to Cairo to explore Egypt for 3weeks. I am going to try to do things like "part the Red Sea" as Kelly suggests. We do want to climb Mount Sinai and watch the sunrise from the top. Let's hope we don't get strapped with any more Commandments, I want to travel light. Pyramids, camels, Arabic, we are going to embrace it all. Then I am coming home! I am so excited to do life with all the people I love back in the States.

Leaving Zambia is another story though, and I am so torn up about leaving. People in my village have greatly impacted my life as we have lived moment by moment together in the village. I can't imagine the hole that is going to be left with each loss. I will face the goodbyes when they come, but for now I am just trying to make the most of my last weeks in country. This week I am writing up Peace Corps close of service reports and enjoying reflecting on the changes that have taken place in my village.

Pray that God remains close through this next transition, that I live fully in the present, and for safety in these final days.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bye-Bye Dev-Dev

The little sister is gone…somewhere in the air over the Atlantic at this point. It was so much fun to experience Zambia, and especially the village, with her. The fact that she is a few inches taller then me gave most of my villagers a good laugh. I think when I talked about my “little” sister they expected her to be, well, little.

Our 10 days in Chifusa were full. Devon got to play pharmacist at the clinic, make fun crafts with Club Mweka, enjoy Zambian food, and have me point out the Southern Cross every night in the huge African sky. It was a trip filled with a lot of laughs, Rummy, and Crystal Light packs. I’ve been super blessed by all my visitors, and being with a sister is so precious.

Dev had this idea to have a truly “timeless” day in the village. The night before, we turned my Christmas clock over so we couldn’t see the time or hear the hourly carol, I took off my watch and we went to bed. We woke the next morning and just did whatever we felt like, whenever we felt like it. This included making crepes, playing Boggle, chasing cows from my garden, watching Rocky chase pigs, playing Spit, going for a run, fetching water, drinking coffee while the sun set, and making dinner. When we were completely exhausted and sure that it was at least the next day I took out my watch. Exactly 20:44. We are a rowdy bunch.

One of my favorite stories about Devon from this trip took place our first night in Livingstone. Dev was a little worried at the high-class backpackers where we were staying as there were a few cockroaches crawling across the floor. One of her friends had a spider that got into her ear while she was sleeping and it freaked D out a bit. Being a super loving and compassionate sister I told her that she needed to woman up, this was nothing compared to my village. Still a little nervous she rummaged through our bag to try and find something to put in her ears. She found 2 OB tampons and unwrapped them and stuck them in her ears. Atta girl. I think the spiders probably crawled up to her, took one look and died laughing. We know for sure they did not get into her ears.

It will be very strange to be back in Colorado and not have Devon around to make me laugh. She will have one more year at college after I return home. Iowa is a lot closer than Zambia though, so I know we will be seeing each other! Thanks for all your prayers; it was an amazing trip together! She took lots of pictures and I will try to snag some and put them up here, especially the earplug snaps. You will laugh.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Jumping Off Bridges and the Usual

My last trip to Livingstone was amazing, yet sad as it will be my last time there while living in Zambia. It is the first of so many "lasts", but I was so blessed to share it with the Devster (I took that name from Kelly).

After getting back from our safari we laid by the pool, and then checked out Victoria Falls. One of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World, this is the absolute best time of year to view them. There is tons of water, but you are still able to see the full glory of them through the mist. We got soaked and loved it! Then we hiked down to the Boiling Pot, at the base of the falls. There are so many memories on this trail, Brad and I getting nearly mauled by baboons, cobras coming across the path, Andrea and I eating lunch on the rocks and watching kayakers drop into the rapids. Devon and I had the a great adventure too, swinging from vines like Tarzan and making our own baboon sounds. Very mature and sophisticated, of course, what else would you expect?

The next day I highly encouraged my sister to jump off the Zam/Zim Victoria Falls bridge. She agreed this would be a great way to send our parent's to an early grave. I will let her explain her little jump in her own words...

So as I always have to be just like my sister she told me it would be a wonderful idea to jump off a bridge, why not? So I went to bungee jump and the idea in theory does not scare me at all, I was not shaking or second guessing myself until I was strapped in. After asking several questions I still didn't really know what I was supposed to do. But, there I find myself standing over an edge with a crazy man counting down 5.4. 3... Wait I'm not ready yet! So he starts over 5. 4... Wait I start laughing... so I shake it off and I was ready to jump. So I hear 5. 4. 3. then I am brutally pushed off a bridge and sent to my early death. So I wanted to protect my new million dollar smile so of course I must scream very loud to keep my mouth open. I was thinking about all the things I really have not gotten to do as I fell for a very very long time and the question of why would I want to give this all up for the silly thrill of bungee jumping? But I had amazing form as I was pushed off and I did not pee my pants so in the end it all worked out. It was a blast minus the spinning part where I almost hurled. I am so glad I did it and my trip has been phenomenal so far!

Caitlin again, wondering how Devon got so dramatic in her young age. We are off to the village today for the next 10 days! Pray that we have a safe and wonderful time together. We miss you all and encourage you to bungee sometime in your life. Especially you, will conquer your fear of heights!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


...of what Devon said in her last post, my life here is SO hard. All of you sitting at home in your cozy houses should feel extreme pity for us roughing it in the African wilderness. I am totally kidding. It has been so fun having Dev here. We are just back from safari and about to head to Victoria Falls. We may have to lay by the pool and read magazines for a little while, just to get our strength up. I know, I know, have fun on your morning commute to the office.

Quick recap of our safari:

Faced with hippos on the Chobe River we had to strategically balance our boat in order to not tip over and become the real life Hungry Hungry Hippo game. That is harder then it sounds when you are with 6 Canadians, 2 New Zealanders, 1 Australian, and a British woman. Having learned my lesson with Kimee, this time I got into a boat with a motor and that made me feel a lot more safe!

We head to our campsite for a little siesta after lunch. A campsite in the middle of the game park. No fences or anything to keep the lions from eating Devon. Let's just say that neither of us got out of the tent at night to pee. What with the elephants trumpeting, and the hyenas crying, we just stayed cozy and prayed our bladders would last until the next morning.

Fast forward a few hours, our guide spots leopard prints in the road and then next thing you know Devon is pointing out this leopard right next to our vehicle. Leopards are just so in style. Next thing you know we are watching four lionesses frolicking in the early morning light by the river.

This was the first safari where I really wished we had signed up for longer! My last safari in Africa (for now), it was so great. We forgot the cord for our camera, but we'll upload pictures when we have a chance. Stay well!

Friday, May 30, 2008

living the good life

So this is the infamous string cheese loving hip-hop dancing trying to be just like K8 sister...Dev Dev. I arrived in Zambia well guess two days ago but I am still very off with my time but truly time has no meaning when you are with the people you love. We are currently staying at this idk Zoo? i guess it s more of a wild animal park rescue area lol. Anyways I have go ten to see some lions and monkeys when my sister and I took a little stroll in the park. I have also met some entertaining Duchies. Some girls from Holland made us a delectable dinner welcoming me to Zambia. After dinner I was exhausted and I tried to get some sleep. only to be woken from my slumber by a punch to the face. Yes my sister punched me in the face! Wow I really missed her.I also might want to warn you that my sister doesn't have it so bad out here. I will admit I am tired from my massage and sauna experience.....and a nice hot shower. So it is a good thing I am about to relax and watch a movie! Yep Zambia is not what I expected at all. I wonder if Caitlin has really even seen a snake.. maybe she just likes attention. She prolly doest even have a village I guess I will find out when i leave Lusaka in a few days.. until then I will have to wonder.