“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” –Mark Jenkins

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

First day of "boodling" school (extreme crochet)

Veronica and her first mornings work
Yet another shitty nights sleep – dogs barking, mosquito zooming past my net every 2 minutes and the cock crowing at all hours. Tracey slept through the lot!
Breakfast was a little rushed, we packed our suitcase of extreme crochet gear and cutting mats, grabbed packed lunch from the girl with the forgotten name and then headed out to our waiting taxi around 745am.
Got to Linda and no-one was about. So we sat reading the crochet pattern book when one of the assistance teachers, Elida, turned up and unlocked the 3rd classroom for us. We set out our lesson resources and waited for the women to arrive. Whilst waiting, a lady called Veronica appeared in the doorway.. she was just dropping her kid off at the classroom next door and decided to have a nose at what we were doing… she immediately picked up my sample square of crocheted carrier bags and continued adding a border to it like a Pro – typical, only one person turns up and she can already crochet! I was starting to get nervous that we had chosen the wrong subject to teach. Veronica left and we waited. And we waited, then we waited some more.
Eventually we wandered over to find Songiso the manager who was in a meeting with his team looking a little harassed – apparently there were “some problems” today and so three of our five test students had needed to go into town. The electricity board (it appeared to be literally all of them) had also arrived to repair and replace a transformer board so he was pretty tied up for a while. So we waited some more.
First group lesson
3 hours passed – and feeling very lonely in our classroom, we started to worry that our plans were a little ambitious for the farm and we might end up failing at our mission after all.  Thankfully though, by 1130am we had assembled a group of 6 willing women and the lesson could begin.
We demonstrated how to cut an old T shirt into a ball of boodle (thick yarn) and got them to have a go themselves on a roll of decorators muslin – this pretty much took us up to lunchtime since it quickly became clear very few of them had ever used scissors before, let alone a rotary cutter.
Nshima, rape and chicken lunch
The usual 2 hour lunch break had just started when Elida re-appeared and asked if we wanted to go walking with her and her friends to the Linda Compound – of course we jumped at the chance – 2 hours is a long time to kill in an empty classroom with just two spam sandwiches and a bottle of water.
Joyce's daughter cutting rape leaves for lunch
The walk wasn’t far and took us to a friend’s house where were we gobsmacked to see the hosts daughter come out with 3 large bottles of Castle beer and some cups. The teachers (Elida and Katherine) got stuck in and even the assistant farm manager, Judy, made light work of the first bottle. Then out came plates of Nshima (the local staple maize meal) with chicken and rape leaves for both Tracey and I. We had never met the owner of the house or her family and yet she was feeding us – we couldn’t believe it. A conversation broke out about drinking on duty and whether or not it was allowed in the UK and it transpires it wasn’t particularly “OK” in Zambia either… just as Elida was asking us NOT to say anything to the others when we returned, we looked up to see Songisa the Farm Manager (and everyone's boss) walking past the garden hedge where we were sitting - Busted!!!! We had to laugh. Turns out Katherine is Songiso’s wife-to-be and he had no idea she was with us! Oops.
He joined us after checking on a friend in the compound and we chatted about sign languages and life on the farm – very interesting.
The afternoon was spent back with the ladies teaching more boodling skills and it was a real blessing to see them continuing as we left – they seemed pleased and so were we.
On a massive high, we took a taxi into town for our dinner date at Edith’s house. Now that was an experience we will never forget… A traditionally cooked (and eaten) meal with a true Zambian family. First we were given a large bowl of water to wash our hands with and then sat down to mounds of Nshima, Okra cooked into a sauce, beans and chicken stew.   The idea is that you pull off a lump of Nshima with your fingers and roll it in the palm of your hand into a smooth ball then scoop it into the okra and beans and shove it in your mouth… really not so easy when you are used to a knife and fork…. it goes against all instinct to put your fingers in your food and yet here we were being told this is the “polite” way to eat it! At one point Edith even picked up her plate and held it to her lips whilst scooping sauce into her mouth with the other hand! The mess Tracey and I got into was clearly hilarious to Edith and Zita as they did not stop laughing at us. A lovely and humbling night. We both felt very privileged to be invited in to experience such an evening.

No comments:

Post a Comment