Zambia: Artwork With A Personal Touch

Over the past couple of weeks I have been in Zambia on a Multiply trip tasked with setting up social projects including English language teaching, internet connectivity, and computer facilities for a school. One of the first things that came to mind when it was suggested I’d go to Zambia was to get our artists to paint pictures that we’d give to the school, where they’d be displayed in the classrooms to inspire the children and give them a connection with us. In November last year I asked various people if they could paint something and I got an enthusiastic response. So the artists chose some photos and got stuck in to painting them. 2014-01-27 18.26.36The paintings covered a wide range of subjects – from people through to landscapes. In fact one of the paintings was from a photo taken during a recently Multiply trip to Sierra Leone.2014-01-04 11.27.47It was quite a step of faith putting all the canvases in a suitcase and hoping (and praying) they’d all arrive in one piece. Especially as it was a couple of flights to Zambia which increases the chance of lost luggage. I was a relieved man when in the middle of a suitcase scrum at Ndola airport (no exaggeration) I spotted it, leapt in and rescued it. On the final day of the two weeks there I presented the artwork to school as a gift from our church back in England. Artwork

CatrionaArtwork-JoyArtwork-KatherineArtwork-RobArtwork-LillArtwork-MarkArtwork-GailArtwork-DanielIt was an amazing privilege giving these works of art to a grateful school. Thanks to Rob, Catriona, Katherine, Mark, Gail, Daniel (aged around 9 I think), Lil, and Joy for all your hard work. One of the other things that came to mind about going to Africa was knitting a blanket for a child. Not me knitting I hasten to add. I had just spent some time with Doris, a lady in her mid eighties who was knitting away whilst we chatted. So I asked her if she was up for doing something creative and make a blanket to take with me and “yes!” was the prompt reply. Doris-Knitting

The end result was stunning, and Catherine loved it.

The end result was stunning, and Catherine loved it (it’s cold at night for Zambians this time of the year). Thanks to Doris and Annie for their hard work.

One of the other personal touches was naming all the laptops in the I.T. classroom after my friends and also people who had supported the project by fundraising. In my church we are given “virtue” names that describe our character so I used these names. Laptop-Names

Giving out certificates

On the last day I created some certificates and we gave these to everyone who had attended the I.T. and literacy courses. Ali and myself called out the people one by one to collect their certificates and pronouncing their names correctly was sometimes an impossible challenge!  However they were very grateful for personal recognition.

Home-Family

I’ll miss this amazing family most of all I think. Sharon, Natasha, Matthew, and Matthew junior

I guess to sum up I can say the time in Zambia was very productive and the project work and filming went well. But there was also an opportunity for the personal touch that affects peoples lives too. It’s important to work through your own ideas and vision and make it happen just as much the official stuff that needs to be done. To end with here is a short glimpse of what we got up to in the two weeks in Zambia. Enjoy.

Zambia: From One Side To The Other

The I.T. training was in full swing, made slightly more interesting when new people arrived who also hadn’t used a computer, so I had to cater for these ones as well as those that now had a few days experience. I did manage to get to see a different view of the complex though thanks to a friendly engineer.

The mobile network mast behind the church complex towered above everything around it.

The mobile network mast behind the church complex towered above everything around it.

I got chatting to a mobile network engineer called Louis that had just turned up to do some maintenance work, and after asking him to take me up to the top he agreed! So we climbed up - made slightly harder by carrying the camera in one hand but the views were well worth it.

I got chatting to a mobile network engineer called Louis that had just turned up to do some maintenance work, and after cheekily asking him to take me up to the top he agreed! So we climbed up – made slightly harder by carrying the camera in one hand but the views were well worth it.

Looking across towards the town of Kitwe

Looking across towards the town of Kitwe.

And that's me. Slightly out of breath but glad to get the opportunity to see the surrroundings from a different view.

And that’s me. Slightly out of breath but glad for the opportunity to see  the surroundings from a different view.

Lusaka

On Thursday I went by myself on a 6 1/2 hour coach journey to the capital of Zambia, Lusaka, to meet Farayi’s brother KC. He works in a government I.T. department doing programming and project management. Lusaka is different to Kitwe as there was many more buildings and commercial complexes. There is still the human touch though as during peak hours the police guide traffic at intersections like this one.

Something I had always wanted to see. KC had a meeting down in the south of Zambia, in Livingstone, so I got on another coach journey and 8 1/2 hours later we arrived. And it was well worth the travelling time as this is where the Victoria Falls are.

Something I had always wanted to see. KC had a meeting down in the south of Zambia, in Livingstone, so I got on another coach journey and 8 1/2 hours later we arrived. And it was well worth the travelling time as this is where the Victoria Falls are.

It was the end of the rainy season and water levels were very high, so it made for an incredible sight and sound. The huge volume of spray from the falls meant that visibility was poor.

It was the end of the rainy season and water levels were very high, so it made for an incredible sight and sound. The huge volume of spray from the falls meant that you couldn’t see across to the other side.

The bridge connecting Zambia to Zimbabwe.

The bridge connecting Zambia to Zimbabwe.

We wandered around enjoying the sights for a couple of hours till the sun set.

We wandered around enjoying the sights for a couple of hours till the sun set.

International Womens Day

On Saturday it was International Women’s Day, and that was the case in Livingstone too. Thousands of people packed into the centre to celebrate and wear very colourful dresses. Apart from the men.

Umbrella

Ladies

People here didn’t seem to mind being photographed unlike everywhere else in Zambia.

Tractor

A Massey Ferguson 275 at the market in Livingstone. This was a more traditional place away from the tourist designated centre.

Me-and-KC

Both dressed in our Sunday best. We were back in Lusaka for church on the Sunday. KC is a part of a large congregation of around 5,000 people, and there are two services to cater for them all. The guy leading this church was an American who had been here for around ten years.

Outside church

The Miracle Life church. This was vastly different to the previous week at the Harvest church, and despite my reservations about mega church and American pastors I found the teaching to be challenging, and the humble pastor humbled me.

Inside church

The church was well built from the congregations donations. They also ran several projects in Lusaka for orphans and street kids. Interestingly the sermon led straight into a gospel spot for people to give their lives to Jesus, and quite a few did. I came away from here having seen God at work but the place I felt at home in was the Harvest church and with its people.

Huts

I said goodbye to KC, glad of the time with him as he’s an important contact for future work here. I then met up with Farayi who was returning from Malawi and we travelled back to Kitwe together. On the way back I spotted the odd place that had traditional thatched roofs but most village housing now had corrugated sheets, electricity etc so sights like these were rare.

Tanzania to Zambia railway

The Tanzania to Zambia railway line.

We returned late on Sunday evening after the coach broke down resulting in a 9 hour journey, and then after a Skype call home I started preparing for the final few days of I.T. project work and filming.

Zambia: The I.T. and Literacy Projects

On Monday and Tuesday the I.T. and literacy  projects were in full flow. Here’s a look at what we’ve been doing.

IT crowd

Monday morning came round and with it the first of the teaching sessions. At the Multiply conference a few days previously Stephen had encouraged pastors to come in and learn how to use a computer, as it is becoming more and more important for communication in Zambia.

James

And come they did – more than 30 of them crammed into the small I.T. classroom for the first session. I didn’t know what level to expect and it turned out that almost all of them had never used a computer before. This was going to be interesting. I started on the basics like how to hold a mouse, moving the cursor, using a keyboard etc. I worked it in stages so 10 people had a go then swapped with another 10, so those who had just tried taught the newcomers. This is the best way of learning – teach what you have been taught.

Ladies group

In the afternoon a smaller group of mainly women came and there was still the same need – to know the basics of using a computer. It took one person ten minutes to use the mouse to click on an icon and then the keyboard to enter a password, but by the end of the lesson she was one of the most confident users there.

Group photo

A happy crowd of Zambians after the second days teaching. In total we had more than 50 people come for lessons, and I suspect this is just the tip of the iceberg. The lessons will cost them a small amount of kwacha (local currency) and this money will go towards running the orphanage and improving the school.

Ali giving books

On Monday morning Ali gave a presentation to the school of all the books and teaching materials that have been sent over. This was gratefully received!

Ali crowd

Ali had a big task on giving an English literacy lesson to a large amount of people, some of which hadn’t come to the assessment the previous day so it made it harder for her to work out what they should be learning. She coped brilliantly though and the conversations and laughter carried on throughout the afternoon.

Ali teaching

Hannah teaching

Hannah meanwhile was showing some of the school children and orphans how to use a computer – as with the older generation most had never tried before. The power to the local area had been cut all day and by the time mid afternoon came only one had any battery life left. Still, more than 4 hours in use on battery is a good run. These laptops have been a great buy – thanks for your donations and for Tony at Form I.T. for sourcing them.

Watching

Happy

You can’t really describe what it is like seeing an adult or a child learn something they never thought they would have the chance to learn. It’s a mixture of joy and disbelief. This picture sums that up.

Dinner

And talking of joy – here was one of the meals that was presented to me in the evening. Sharon really does put a lot of effort into fattening me up: coleslaw, fried soya bean, sausages, eggplant, and boiled potatoes. Finished with some pineapple for dessert. Even for me this is a lot of food and I’ve rarely finish a meal. I think that’s a compliment. Could be a grave insult though. Oh well there’s not much I can do about that.

Fish

Another traditional meal I’ve had. Fish (bream), a bean and nut mixture, and nshima (ground maize).

Grrr...

Grrr… yep I ate that all up. And it was actually very tasty.

Sunset

On Tuesday evening I got back home noticing that there might be the first real sunset of the trip. After the customary bath time the sun had almost set (it goes down very quickly due to the angle of the suns movement) but after asking Matthew he quickly took me to a place where I could get the last few rays of light.

It’s been a busy, and somewhat tiring few days for us all but we’re seeing real progress with the project work. It’s making a difference not just to the church, school and orphanage, but to the people of Kitwe as well.