“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

Thursday, 3 August 2017

The Zambian Amble

Agnes and Staphos
Chilly start again, but on arrival at the farm just after 8am we headed straight out to the fields to join the team hoeing again. I just love the atmosphere out here … Zambian farmers, even blind, deaf or disabled ones, still manage to have a good chuckle with each other every day. The banter in the fields and the team spirit is something I will dearly miss when I leave here. Agnes and Biltong were music playing on their mobile phone and occasionally stopped to have a little dance in between the rows of holes they were digging for sowing the maize. The camaraderie and sense of community just cannot be matched by lone tractor drivers in the UK – yes they may be able to plough a field in a couple of hours, but they miss out on so many of life’s simple pleasures.

It was backbreaking work and by 11am we had blisters on blisters, so we headed up to the classroom to prepare for the afternoons boodling session, leaving Bernard and the others to finish the last corner of the field.

Songiso and Katherine took us on a walk around the area at lunchtime, passing by the market and the health centre, and learning about Zambian culture along the way. There are certain tribes in the country that still send young boys who are coming of age out into the bush for 6 months to learn all the skills they need to become a man and take care of a family etc.  Not all tribes do this and there are some problems with the disruption it has on schooling, so how long they will be allowed to continue is unknown. There are tough consequences for any locals who happen to accidentally wander into the area of the bush restricted for use by these boys;  if a tradesman for example, were cycling through the bush with his supplies on his way to market, was to be caught in the area, he would be abducted into the bush for the full duration and cannot leave… then he must pay a handsome fee at the end to be let out again and returned to his family. Women thankfully are not subject to such strict rules.
Songiso cutting mutton cloth
We were so engrossed in our discussions and stopping every few minutes to be introduced to people along the way, that we soon realised we would be late back to start the afternoons boodling. This made little difference to the speed of our return and the “Zambian amble” saw us arrive back to a group of eager women; including yet more newbies. Songiso even joined us for the afternoon and completed his first crocheted square… our first male student. We had now successfully taught twelve women and one man.
Veronica got to grips with the carrier bags and had almost finished making my water bottle holder by the time 4pm came around. Some very happy ladies today and two even happier teachers…. albeit absolutely shattered and both with very painful hands.
Veronica finishing my water bottle holder
Veba working on her bag base

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