Published: June 14th 2012June 14th 2012
Hello family and friends!
We're back, after a long week of no Internet connection. Power outages; computers, but no Internet; life in the bush is different than life in the city.
At Kapiri Mposhi we experienced a Zambian mass that is unlike anything most of us have ever seen. Beautiful music, processions to begin mass, processions at offertory and a procession though the streets of the town after mass. The mass was in the local language, Bemba, but Caitie did one of the readings and Fr. Charles included some English. Everyone understands English, but Fr. Charles preached in Bemba and had the congregation singing, laughing, and saying "Alleluia". The mass and procession took 3 1/2 hours.
Our nest stop was Ibenga, an even smaller town where St. Theresa Mission is. Our group has given St. Theresa a new name. It is Inganda Ya Bu Seko, which is Bemba for House of Laughter. Fr. Angelo, who speaks more Italian and Chinanja (sp) than English, took an instant liking to Ian and had us laughing out loud most of the time we were there (3 days). One day he took Ian into town to get some more bricks for the
retreat center they are building and at dinner, Fr. Angelo was there and Ian was not. Fr. Angelo told us he sold Ian in town and the dinner we had in front of us was what he got for Ian at the market.
At Ibenga we toured the Ibenga Girl's School - one of the best in Zambia. J.P. was a regular celebrity and later that day we came back and played some volleyball against the girls. The picture will show you that they turned out in number to watch. Some of them thought Evan looked like Justin Beiber.
The next day we toured the government run Basic School next door and the conditions were striking compared to the Girls' School; though both have tremendous needs. We played some football (soccer) with the kids from the surrounding villages. Zambia is a country in high spirits about its national team. They beat Ghana in the Africa Cup a few months ago and again while we were here on their way to qualifying for the World Cup in Brazil in 2014. Ask the boys about buying Zambia jerseys out the window of the van as we drove through the streets
of Lusaka on the way to Ibenga. We get cheers anywhere we go if we are wearing Zambia gear (Chipolopolo!!).
There is a small nutrition center the Sisters of St. Francis run at the compound. One day we helped roast soy beans and make the nshima to feed the children. One of the truly striking things was that the kids shared their nshima with others who asked for more. These children are very poor and this may be their only meal of the day or one of their two meals that day, yet they share. This was a difficult day for some of our group.
The Sisters also run a community for those suffering from leprosy. It is not common any more in Zambia, but some who have it are still shunned in the villages. It is no longer believed to be contagious, but inherited. The community is called Chibote (peace) and the older victims of leprosy are taken care of there. But there are whole families there, too. Only one member may have the disease, but the whole family stays at the compound where they help tend the huge garden, the corn mill, the hens and the
pigs; all of which provide income to the compound. They grow up learning that leprosy is no threat. But the children, again, were a source of fun and playing games for our group.
There are so many stories. Ask the kids about the puppies at Ibenga. Ask the girls about the spiders at Ibenga (they will say they were as big as the puppies). Evan, Ian and Andy worked the bricks. Several of us tried to stir the big pots of nshima and were worn out in seconds. Ask Sean about the dangers of showering with long hair. And there was Fr. Angelo...on the last day he said, "Look, Phiri (Ian's nickname) is crying. He does not want to go. He wants to stay here."
A trip to Kitwe allowed us to see another school run by the Franciscans and see the parish where we will be over the weekend. This school was better than most of the ones we have seen, but still in great need. This is the case throughout Zambia as we have seen it. There are schools everywhere: Christian, government schools, Chinese, Arabic, private, so the the country sees the essential role education will
play in leading so much of its population out of poverty. But every school is under funded, under staffed and under resourced. The challenges are enormous.
In Kitwe we also went to our first market. This was quite an experience for those of us in Zambia for the first time. The experienced members of the group made their way around and bargained easily. Ian, too, because of his time in Vietnam. This is a market that is estimated to have one million people in it each morning.
Tonight we are in Ndola after a long day of visiting the Walale Nutrition Center, the elderly in that same village, the De Gama School for children with physical disabilities and a meeting with the Friends of the Franciscan Friars where they invited into the circle of friends and shared gifts of shirts and shatanges (sp). We hope our pictures will tell some of that story. We hope to have a chance to add to the blog tomorrow as well. We are glad to be able to update you on all we have been doing and to let you know that we are all well.
The Zambia 2012 Group
There are more photos below