Thursday, June 25, 2009

Me giving a nutrition lesson

Milex kids at going away party

One of my Nutrition Clubs dancing at going away party


Our new Milex classroom!!

Foundation for new classroom. PTA and community
built structure and molded ALL the bricks.

Mwabombeni Mukwai!! (You are working well!!-general greeting in Icibemba)

I am Utah. I've been lucky enough to call several different places home, and I am sure I will continue to do so. I was able to do some traveling after I ended my service in Zambia and am now settling down in Kaysville...but only until September. Linsey and I are moving to Seattle in the fall and hope we can start saving some money for a change. It was difficult to leave my village in Zambia. I developed such an incredible love for my collegues and friends there, but It was time. My area threw me a wonderful going away party and each group I worked with prepared a traditional song and dance in my honor. I was given gifts, notes, and well wishes that made my heart swell. It was overwhelming to see everyone I had worked with during my 2 years in the same place. The nursery school kids were all there, each with a white dot on their foreheads to stick out. Actually...I had given Teacher Mirriam some hole reinforcers for her notebook paper and she didn't know what to do with them, so she put them on the kid's foreheads for the celebration. It was priceless. I guess I shoul've been more clear about their purpose :). Upon leaving my village and Zambia I am left with only gratitude. The opportunity to work in such a foreign and unique environment and really emerge in the Zambian culture is one I will never have again. It was difficult at times, but it was worth every minute.

I am keeping in touch with people from my village via mail and e-mail. I wanted to give you an update on the nursery school. AGAIN>>>IT WOULDn'T HAVE HAPPENED WITHOUT ALL YOUR SUPPORT!!! All those who sent materials, donations, and well wishes should feel really good in knowing you were a part of this incredible chance for early education in Mwamba. The school was able to build a new classroom to accommodate the 100 pupils who come each day. There are 4 employees...2 teachers, a custodian, and a mill worker. To sustain the school we applied to a new NGO started by a former Peace Corps Volunteer called COLOR ME IN to get funding for a community grinding machine. The traditional food (Nshima) is made from ground maize. People from my area have to walk or bike over 12 k with huge bags of maze to the nearest mill. Not only will the mill benefit the school but also the thousands of people who make the trek to town to grind maize. The mill was successfully purchased in March and it has started working. It has so far been successful and the school is thriving.

I hope to be able to visit Zambia again, but until then it will never leave my heart.

All my love

Friday, March 27, 2009

This is it. I leave Zambia in less than 24 hours but a part of me will remain. Mostly I will carry Zambia with me, the things I've seen, learned, and the people I've loved. The beauty of trial and triumph, of tears and laughter will forever rest in my soul. I was given remembrances from the groups and people I've worked with in the form of song, craft, words, and embrace. I left Mwamba to songs from the MILEX Nursery School kids as all their faces crowded into the doorway and their little hands waving their last goodbyes. The last drive down that red dirt road was tough. I will never live like I lived in Mwamba. The walk across my village to sounds of little voices greeting me, pumping water from the well, carrying my laundry on my head from the river, cycling to afternoon meetings, and falling asleep to the village drums. I am so thankful for this opportunity. I have been immeasurably changed by this place and these people. It is bitter sweet, agonizing bliss to leave and yet reunite with my world and family in the states. I can't wait to see everyone I left, but of course we never leave people and places because they remain inside. Again I want to thank everyone who came with me on this journey and will continue to accompany me. I am full of love and hope for what tomorrow will bring. I will leave with a poem one of my fellow volunteers and dearest friends wrote...

And here I am
Preparing my goodbyes
Preparing my hellos
Trying to remember what I didn’t know
What I couldn’t know
Until I knew
Until I met you
The you that’s now me
Deep inside
Penetrating my life
And now I understand
You were where I was always coming
But I was always leaving
The unintentional suicide
Of a child who couldn’t see
That child was me
I chose to believe
In what the world could be
It’s in the way the seasons change
A shedding of skin
To greet the new
To part with the old
One day it’s hot
The next day it’s cold
I found myself washed
In the baptismal rains
With their consistent inconsistencies
Giving steps to the lame
I knew it wouldn’t last
I knew I’d have to go
You’re not my world
But you’re in my soul
A dreamer from the beginning
A dreamer till the end
And here you are
A beautiful friend
But it’s time for me to go
It’s time for me to leave
It’s time for me to see
That it’s time for me to breathe
The inhale means nothing
If the exhale’s not there
You were my intake
But the letting go I can bear
So now I’m going home
To write letters I’ll probably never send
Whispering words into the wind
This is my goodbye
This is my hello
And I finally remember what I didn’t know
What I couldn’t know
Until I knew
Until I met you.

-Lyndsey MacMahan CAHP 07

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Well hello there...

Time is funny. So much has happened in the last few months. The rains have come and gold has turned back to green. The bush has extended to the sky and the little dirt paths have been choked by the foliage. The critters have come out of hiding and the bush is alive with cultivation. Most of my villagers are in the fields from sun rise until the expected afternoon downpour. I am really enjoying life after a bit of a slump, and work is still moving. Unfortunately because of the world food crisis, prices of food have gone up so much so that we are unable to sustain the preschool with a chicken coop. DON'T FRET... we have transformed the coop into a beautiful classroom, and we are working on a new income generating project. We are trying to get a grinding machine, where everyone takes their maize to make flour for the staple food of Nshima. The closest one to Mwamba is 12k and people bike from many villages around us to reach the mill. There will be a lot of demand and it will not only benefit the school, but the surrounding communities. I am really excited about this new venture. We are trying to raise some more money for the extra costs and are going through an NGO that a former Peace Corps Volunteer and good friend of mine just started in the states and I, of course, will let you know how you can help.

I was fortunate enough to attend my second traditional pre-marriage ceremony in the village. I can't possibly describe the beauty and strangeness of this event. However, I will try to paint a simple picture. This ceremony is for women in the village who are about to be wed. It is a 2 day affair and the second day goes non-stop from 13:00-7:00 the next morning. It is exuberance, intensity, exhaustion, dancing, singing, drumming, passing and receiving of knowledge and ritual, all rolled into one. The ceremony I attended included 3 girls, all of whom were younger than me, who were to be married. They start in a remote location in the bush where a group of 'elders' who are maayos (mom's) in the community who act as the traditional teachers. They are accented with a white dot on their forehead and tirelessly facilitate the events. After events in the bush all return to a room totally cleared out except for drums and wall paintings. Through song, dance, drama, and wall paintings, teach the girls what it is to be a good Zambian wife. They teach about taking care of the household, drawing water, cleaning, cooking, birthing children, raising those children, and of course pleasing the every way imaginable. The climax of the ceremony is when the fiance's, and their parents, and the men's teachers, join the women and their leaders for the interpretation of the wall paintings. The most elderly of the women in the room will take a stick and facilitate the explanation of each picture painted on the wall. It is incredibly fascinating. The pictures range from the wedding day, the household jobs, cleansing of the body, to sexual positions. The explanation of all hundred pictures or so all come in song and dance form and take 2-3 hours to go through. This is just one small example of the endless hours of ritual. I ended up starting from about 18:00-7 the next morning and I was on cloud 9. After almost 2 years of living in Zambia, I was still completely in awe of what I was experiencing. I only wish I could've documented it so I could watch it over and over. The songs and beat of the drums transformed me to a magical place. The voices are so powerful and the energy infectious. Though many tribal traditions have been smothered by colonization and Christianity, ceremonies such as this one are still very much alive in rural areas. I just have to say that if you think a wedding shower is tiring, you have no idea what these poor girls go through. You can see the exhaustion seeping from them. By the end they have a hard time keeping their heads up. I am understanding, in very small bits, why the women here are so strong and unique. God Bless Zambia!!

Well thats it for now. Tune in next time. I wish you all the best of holiday seasons!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Muli Shani. I have a few moments to send some love to everyone. Things in Zambia are still churning. Cold season is officially over and it isn't holding on a bit. The days have become quite toasty and I can't imagine just a few weeks ago, I was actually wearing long sleeves :). The land has become golden and my villagers have been gathering their dried maze to sell in town. Because we are using the village agricultural storage shed for classes, the preschool has been closed for 2 weeks to accommodate everyone's maize. We are hoping that the money earned from the coop will allow us to construct our own structure so we can avoid these closures in the future. The coop construction is going really well. The district agriculture officer has been supporting the project and the PTA has been working extremely hard. All 7,000 bricks have been cemented together and the roof is in progress. In other news, the official period of mourning for President Mwanawasa has ended, but people are still shaken by the loss. There will be an election around the 30th of October and a new leader will take over. I am interested to see what the elections will bring for Zambia. I am also thinking of everyone at home as elections there come close. I'll try to write again soon. Sending my love and thoughts..... Lisa

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hello! I am in Lusaka to help facilitate a training for the new volunteers. It was good to be involved and try to share some of my insight, but I am very ready to head back to the village. I just sent Lins back to the states last week and am officially in withdrawl. We had the best time. I am excited to continue work, wrap some of my projects up, and prepare for my replacement to come. I still have a year to go, so there's no rush, but it is good to think about things early. I am seriously thinking about extending in my village for an extra 6 months, meaning I will be home around Sep of 2009. It is not for sure yet, but I have a lot of work left to do, and I really love Mwamba. We were able to get a good chunk of the money we needed for the preschool and have started construction. This is very exciting, but we lost money on the exchange rate and were a few thousand short of our budget so my sweet mom is still collecting donations...wink wink :). It really feels good to see all of our work and planning come to fruition. The school is such an amazing place and it's nice to reward the communities hard work. I can never stop thanking everyone who has supported the project.
A few days ago, President L.P. Mwanawasa passed away and Zambia is in mourning. It is the first President that Zambia has ever lost, as the first 2 are still alive. Things here have been somber, but Zambians pride themselves on their peaceful unity, so no problems are expected. For 3 months the Chief Justice will lead the country until Elections take place. It will be interesting to see an election in another country as one is going on at home as well. It is strange that at the end of my service both pictures of the Presidents displayed at the Peace Corps office will be different from when I arrived. I welcome the change and hope it will serve both countries. Stay well.....

until next time....lisa