01 Aug Sat in Ndola, Zambia from Chris
Hello! Had internet access and wanted to shoot out a quick message.
I'm wrapping the 7th day of this journey (well, two of them were flying here) and it's been verrrrry interesting.
I've spent two full days out in the villages surrounding Ndola, doing some community health assessment with the SOHIP hygiene/sanitation team. This has meant going way out and being surrounded by 200 people who have only shallow, contaminated water as a drinking source, and terrible health problems, sometimes resulting in babies dying. The hygiene and sanitation initiative comes alongside the well drilling or well repair work, to make sure that the people have good hygiene practices when the good water is supplied, significantly reducing their death and disease from bad water.
I've also been involved in a couple of the 'international development agency' stuff: my friend Kirk, the SOHIP director has had me sit in on a couple of data presentations and planning meetings to get better acquainted with the broader organization. That's the two-sided coin: being able to drill these wells and provide health care for the poor requires a great deal of funding, and the proper management of that is an important part.
Tomorrow (Sunday) is church, and it will probably consume the whole day. I'm told the worship group is waiting to meet me... Pastor Francis just come over to insure me he wants me to got out with him to his church, the Mapalo Vineyard... Mapalo is an area of 60,000 people outside Ndola, half of which do not have safe drinking water...
Monday is a Zambian national holiday (Farmer's Day), so not sure what that may bring.
I hit the jackpot with my timing for being here in-country with regards to next week. Tues thru Fri is a 4-day training seminar-meeting with the entire SOHIP hygiene -sanitation team, plus a number of leaders from the village Health committess, all coming together for training and strategic meetings. This will give me the opportunity to see and hear the full training curriculum used, as well as build relationships with all the key people in the area of health development for many villages.
So, not sure when I will get to Blog-post next week... by then, I should have some of my pictures on the Blog as well.
My new friends have decided I need to do the 'rapid Zambian' emersion... they are making me speak Bemba to people (natotela= thank you, mulishani=hello, bwino=good/nice/reply, etc), and I have had to learn how Nshema is cooked and eaten... lets just say that no utensils are involved... and I will never be able to eat a banana the same way!!
Funny story... we went way out to a school right along the Zambian/Congo DR border, and as the hygiene team were meeting with the principal, the entire school let out for recess... all 120 students... and they decided that I was the 'white giant' and a 20-minute game of trying to avoid me tagging them ensued... the place was off the hook, everybody laughing and moving about... a couple of bold kids came close enough and got tagged, all with smiles and laughter... the principal was standing there, watching and laughing loudly... afterword, when the kids were all called back into class, she told me that I may be the first white persom most of these village children have seen... and what good fun !!
Prayer requests: continued connection with the Zambian team, understanding of the complete and complex health program already in place, relationship with the community leaders, better skills at speaking Bemba and eating Nshema (well, all things Zambian) and patience with all the anti-malarial stuff (meds, bednets, my new fragrance Ode de DEET 24/7)
In devotions this past week, Matt 11 really stood out to me where Jesus said "come and learn of Me"... I'm trusting He's got all this stuff covered, and He's letting me learn from Him...
I'm finding myself praying for more than a few people with alcoholism in the villages. My Zambian friends estimate that a third to half of the adult males drink heavily here. Pray the scourge of alcoholism is broken in the Spirit realm over Zambia, and those men are released into the freedom of being filled with the Holy Spirit!!