Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Happy Halloween!

So yet another month has passed and the rains will soon be coming...thank god. I've decided to alter appearances in this sweltering heat and have donated my hair - it feels fabulous. The past couple months have been good. It is still taking me what seems like ages to get into the swing of things but my calendar is slowly filling up with programs. I am currently working with a few farmers on getting bee hives ready for the upcoming swarming season (got to love the thought of working with african bees! - but the honey will be worth it). I also have a few agroforestry/conservation farming meetings and have a few farmers with tree nurseries - all in attempsts to halt the chitmene (slash and burn) ag method while replacing it with something more resembling permaculture. I will also have a couple meetings this week discussing agriculture and nutrition with some Home Based Care groups and Ophans and Vulnerable children support groups - trying to expand the local diet of tute (cassava) to include some more nutritious crops like soya, cow peas, and veggies.

I still have yet to see the big game of africa though my wildlife encounters most recently include a frog that walks instead of hops (can you believe it!) - and mad slowly at that...I'm not quite sure how the little guys get away from predators but I was told that they just meander up to the insect holes and sit there until the unsuspecting bugs crawl out...the lazy mans way to catch dinner I guess.

My new house is coming along. The floors were cemented this week...I didn't do it myself though I did haul the sand up from the river bank and sieve it which took some effort - I definitely don' t have Ba Maayo arm muscles yet!. I also made some umuti watushishi this week (pesticides) out of the leaves and pods of the ndale garden is suffering severely from some pest so hopefully this treatment will work - I'll report back next post.

I will end with my most intense experience thus far in Zambia....My neighbors and closest friends to date had a baby last week...a boy named Moses. Unfortunately on Sunday...after a week in and out of the clinics and hospitals in the area Ba Moses passed away (the third out of four of their children to die in infancy). It was the first funeral I have attended though sadly will definitely not be the last. It was the father who rode around the village on his bike after the passing, letting everyone know that a funeral would be commencing. The village, and everyone who knows the family from surrounding areas proceeded to the house...the men sit outside (some go dig the grave), while the women sit inside. Since Moses was so new to the community it was only the mother who wailed (though I've been told that in most funerals all the women wail)..and it was by far the most heart wrenching, intense wailing I have ever heard with the words Maayo Maayo Maayo repeated for hours (mother mother mother) amidst some other bemba I do not know. Funerals for infants ussually only last for the one day while those for adults can go on for three or four... It is such a different way for people to deal with their grief compared to the solitude or more intimate environment that most americans seem to prefer. Infant Mortality rates are extremely high in Zambia and most parents that I talk to (those I've been comfortable enough to ask) have burried one or more of their children. I ussually don't even have words to respond to such conversations as its almost unimaginable to me. I only hope that the mother and father, two great parents,the mother whom was always fabulously smiling and happy will be able to recover from yet another loss.

Anyway... I hope that you are all well and have snacked plentifully on candy corn and pumpkin treats. Happy Halloween - and I will probably be back in town soon, around Thanksgiving after going to Kasanka National Park to see an amazing bat migration. I still miss you all! Shalenipo (stay well)



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