By Coláiste Feirste students in Zambia
On Saturday we were greeted by three SERVE volunteers at Lusaka airport. We then took a three hour bus journey through the city of Lusaka to the town of Mazabuka, all whilst observing the natural beauty of Zambia. Immediately, we could identify the contrast between the Irish and Zambian culture. Poverty was evident throughout the city.
Later that night we arrived at the community house, St.Bakhita’s, in Mazabuka. We were overwhelmed by the huge welcome we received from the boys in the house and the people of the community.
Poverty in Zambia is different to poverty in Ireland, it appears to be more widespread. However, despite this, the community are grateful for everything that they have. For example that night we were sat down to a homemade traditional meal made by the mother figure of the house which consisted of the main food eaten here ‘Nshima’. Nshima is a mixture of maize and water. Most households experiencing poverty would cook Nshima most days, as it is cheap and readily available. Before we came to Zambia, we had been worried about the food and if we would like it, but we can positively say that we did not go to bed hungry!
After dinner, the boys in the house, welcomed us even further with a Zambian welcome song and danced for us to music from traditional style to modern music which we really enjoyed. The biggest challenge on the first night of course had to be the struggle of adapting to the insects!
On Sunday we sat on the back of a trailer and drove from Mazabuka to Luanonda Farm which is roughly an hour and a half drive. We felt like we were in a movie, with the hot sun beating down on us (even though it is winter here), songs playing and the beautiful Zambian countryside around us. We visited the neighbouring farm in which the farmer greeted us with a gift of one of his chickens. Some of the group took part in preparing the chicken which we enjoyed for an evening meal. Later that night we lit a camp fire where we boiled hot water for tea and roasted marshmallows. We shared our culture together and sang each national anthem. We sat around the fire for hours sharing stories, experiences and ended the night with another bug inspection before we lay our sleeping bags down for a long challenging but educational night.
The next morning we woke early, got the fire going and collected water from the well near by the farm. We boiled some eggs over the fire and washed our hair outside under the hot sun (which was a lot more fun than it sounds!). We were faced by one of the biggest challenges so far since we’ve arrived. Whilst collecting water from the well we were followed by some children who were living nearby. They had very little, and we were happy that we had brought gifts for them. It appeared to make their day and we were delighted to be a part of it.
Not long after, we set off back to Mazabuka. After dinner we performed a welcoming song to the boys of St. Bakhitas and taught them how to dance a ceilí, tonntaí thoraí. We then met as a group and evaluated the roses (positives) and thorns (challenges) of our journey so far which was very good and was a healthy release of emotion between the group.
Today we were split up between 6 and 8 in two groups. Eight of us went into the school next door to St.Bakhita’s boys home and sat in a few lessons from 8am to lunch time while the rest of us cemented a chicken coup in which the boys that leave St. Bakhita’s get to sell the eggs to earn a few kwatcha.
Later that night we drove a few minutes out of our compound and got to watch the burning of a sugar cane crop. It was as if you were standing directly on the sun it was that hot but it was an amazing image to capture whilst the beautiful African sun was setting in the background. It was truly a beautiful photograph and a once in a life time experience. We’re now back in St. Bakhita’s boiling some hot water for tea and playing some games with the boys in the house whilst listening to a few tunes.