The oppressive heat of October has intermittently been relieved by the coolness of early rains. The birds have returned in anticipation of the termite’s flight and the browned world is once again highlighted by vibrant sprouts of green. People are busy preparing their fields, harvesting the last unburned elephant grass, and thatching their houses. Grade 7 and 9 students are studying hard as they will soon sit down to take their exams ~ a determining factor in whether or not they will be able to continue their education. Zambia will celebrate their independence this week - October 24th - without the excessive booms of fireworks, and the gathering of families at barbeques and daytime picnics. Instead most will continue on their daily path of chores and work that will sustain their families in the year to come…with the possible consumption of locally brewed Katata or kachasu.
With October has come the BizAIDS program to my community. I am traveling for three weeks with one facilitator and two HIV counselors throughout the Luapula Valley as we teach basic business skills and HIV education. The counselors are providing mobile testing services at every stop not only for those attending the program yet they also wander though the communities to sensitize those who are not in attendance…One step towards ending the stigma around HIV testing. Its always so rewarding to watch a friend take initiative, to build the courage, to become a leader, to know their status.
There is a wedding next week - joining a returned volunteer and a gentleman from Mansa. Many of us will travel to the Copperbelt to witness their union and view the traditions of a Zambian wedding. I have heard that there is a lot more dancing worked into the actual ceremony of marriage within Zambian tradition in comparison to our American services. We are then going to camp at a chimpanzee refuge - to view these intelligent animals that were probably once pets now orphaned, displaced from the Congo conflict, or possibly saved from laboratory operations. I’m preparing myself for a somewhat sad experience of cages and empty eyes as compared to the prior day of joyous dancing of the wedding.
Happy Halloween and Zambian Independence!