Monday, 25 May 2009

Changes and Challenges

Since our last update we have lost Mrs Kapenda Mwangala Matamola. She died in childbirth two weeks ago from a ruptured uterus; the baby was still-born. It is at times like this when you realise how remote and isolated you actually are and how poor the medical facilities are in developing countries and how dangerous for women in these places childbirth can still be.

Kenny, her husband, is a colleague at the school; the family are devastated. She leaves three young boys and a number of related orphans they look after. She is not only a great loss to the family but she is also sorely missed at Church and in the Hospital. Mwangala was in her early thirties and an Anamoyo with a beautiful singing voice. She worked hard and quietly behind the scenes and always went the extra mile. Mwangala was assigned to the Out Patients Department as a cleaner and helped and supported her colleagues there. She also was a much-loved and respected Psycho-Social Counsellor at the AIDS RELIEF Centre.

The school term has just started again after Easter, so there is the thrice-yearly rush to try and scrape the school fees money and the other requisites together for those pupils at High School (K300 000 or about GBP40.00). So as our cold season approaches, two heart-warming stories related to this.

Last Thursday we got up and as Ida drew open the curtains, there was a hunched female figure happed up in a hood and jacket against the cold, steaming breath and raking the sand in our yard. She had already piled and cleared the fallen leaves from under the guava trees. This is the first task a dutiful Lozi daughter/wife undertakes first thing in the morning – The Cleaning of the Lapa (the yard). It was Mubuyaeta, one of my girls whom I first taught in Grade 7, now in Grade 10. All she said was - I wanted to thank you for helping me.

Later the same day, another auld acquaintance, Oliver, turned up on the doorstep with some mysterious object under his arm and wrapped up in a supermarket plastic bag. After being ushered ben, he proceeded to reveal this grotesque, half-smiling, half-yawning carved wooden crocodile and invited me to buy it. The only use for it I could conceive of, was perhaps at a Javanese shadow puppet performance of Peter Pan. So I asked Oliver what he needed the money for. To buy school shoes was the answer. Well, we have just received a container with amongst other things shoes. I told him to wait and went over and naughtily selected two pairs – a hard-wearing and sensible Doc Martin type shoe and another long pointed modern affair, they call them ‘modern’ but to my mind they are a regression to the Middle Ages in style. He looked dubiously at the Doc Martins but his eyes lit up and smiled as he coveted the other pair. Ah, we call these shoes, pointers, in Zambia…………….. were his words.

Today early in the morning I was out burning the rubbish at our pit in the garden. I was suddenly aware of two small chittering, bare-foot figures, clad only in shorts and T-shirts watching me. I greeted them. They were a Grade 5 & Grade 6 boy and both orphans. They had been raking through the coups at the Mission to see what they could find. They were now wanting permission to pick guavas and lemons, only because I was there, I assume. I confess, at their age, I used to go raiding for apples in the autumn but not for my breakfast.

The container with its store of winter clothes, shoes and blankets came to the rescue again.

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