Zambia Welcomes Us

We arrived without incident Saturday afternoon in Lusaka by Zambia Airways. We were so fortunate that one of our Elephant Valley acquaintances gave us a contact name at the airport in Livingstone to ask for a waiver on our luggage since much of our weight was still camera equipment and other requested “supplies” for the Schwartz’s and the Kamau’s from Delaware.

The Schwartz’s gave us a mini-tour of parts of Lusaka and then we enjoyed a nice fish & “cheeps” lunch at a very modern looking mall. I was quite surprised to see how contemporary Lusaka appears on first blush. It’s like many foreign cities … bustling streets, tallish buildings, apartments, street lights, etc. I am sure there are expansive ‘shany towns’ within it’s borders, but we did not go there.

The drive to the Village of Hope was about an hour up the Great Northern Road. The scene was ever-changing from relative affluence to abject poverty. Our first introduction to the VOH was the Farm Market. Clearly, this is becoming a focal point of the VOH from the locals’ standpoint. Here the market is selling to three different types of customers: villagers (from both the north and south) who walk to the Market, vendors who normally have to take a “blue bus” (small public transportation vans that go up and down the Great Northern Road) to Lusaka to get wholesale products, and recently, Benedict has been sending one of their workers who has a drivers license further North in the truck and selling wholesale to vendors above Leteta. The Farm Market is quite impressive with their staples of cabbages, potatoes, melons, onions and many other local greens, along with pens for live chickens and rabbits. There is also a woodfire brazier that the workers use to cook themselves a meal at midday. The Farm Market is guarded 24 hours a day … not for animal predators, but for the human kind.

The market is predominately manned by the Conservation Farming students (10) who have field work in the mornings and other duties in the afternoons like selling at the market or attending classes. These students, under the voH local Board direction, have formed a cooperative and soon, the cooperative will be making money that will eventually be used to buy land and utilize the skills they are learning now for their own property. This project is called “Land for Landless Orphans.” In countries like Zambia, land is usually “tribally” owned and passed down through generations. If Benedict and the VOH can acquire land that can be sold to the cooperative, then these young people have a real chance to make a life for themselves.

The tour continued and Benedict showed us the training fields where conservation farming techniques are being used for crops like corn (called maize) and casava. (I know there are many more crops, but I can’t remember now.) The whole organization of the fields and what is being grown here is critical to the Village as it is what will make it self-sustaining. The biggest need now is WATER! They are drilling for water this week, but so far the previous bores have only yielded 1 litre/second… this is not enough for irrigation. Please pray for success in finding enough water.

Deeper into the property, we saw the 4 houses that are in various stages of completion. The Kamaus, who serve as the administrators of the Village and direct supervisors to the house mothers, live in one completed house and the first 5 children (all boys), live in the 2nd completed house with their house mother, Rose. The head house mother is Miriam who I will not meet until Thursday. The third house is within days of being completed and then Rose will move into this house with the same 5 boys and 5 new girls who have been selected already and are waiting to come. The next completed house will be for 10 more children. The original completed house will be used by Miriam, the head house mother, as an orientation for new house mothers and will never have more than 5 children at a time. It’s a wise plan.

The footprints of 5 – 6 more houses have also been dug and are awaiting a poured foundation and the layers of cement blocks. Each of the houses being built are based on the same design. This makes it easier to build the houses. Each house will have 2 bedrooms with 5 bunkbeds each, a bathroom, a bedroom for the house mother, a kitchen, and living room. They will cook on traditional outdoor hearths with wood. Oh, I almost forgot. The Schwartz’s are also having a house built near the first set of houses.

Other planned buildings include a community center (with library, study areas, and recreational equipmet), a small restaurant (to be used by workers as well), the food processing plant, and a small clothing & craft store. The community center has been “adopted” as a project by a church in Michigan who will send a team to build it next spring. This is the exact kind of help that is currently needed.

After this whirlwind tour, we arrived in the house they are currently renting from a neighboring farmer/estate owner. It is rustic by Western standards, but quite large by African standards with two bathrooms, 3 bedrooms, a large living room/dining room, and a large kitchen with a pantry. Although the house is quite close by car, it is a pretty good hike of 2 miles if you follow the roads.

We collapsed into bed… looking forward to a blessed Sunday.

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~ by Irm Brown on November 14, 2007.

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