Wednesday, October 21, 2009

21 Oct Chula Vista CA... so much in-betweening

21 Oct
Chris here, in good 'ole Chula Vista CA.

Still processing all that happened in Zambia. Wonderful people (the Zambians), beautiful country (even though end of the dry winter), terrible economy (although the NGOs are a great employer for many Zambians), worrisome situation of church leadership (troublesome pocket-rattling all the time) but some real God-worshippers in the house (let the songs rise up!!)

So now I'm communicating with a couple dozen sources related to work in Zambia... some real and possible avenues to work in the country, including some 'new' offers... plus some actual 'consultation-planning' for HIV AIDS work there

I'm also working on some new avenues to reach out here in the border Baja Mexico region... including doing some surgical work for the poor... more on that when something substantial happens... Lori and I try hard to only report what's happening, not al lthe 'potentials'...

Lori is busy getting her next San Vicente trip lined up and prepped... dates being set... supplies heading down as this is being written...

For us, the in-between times can be way harder than actually being in a village or another continent...

Pray for us. There are also a few family members not doing so well right now, who need prayers.

blessings, your bro


Thursday, October 8, 2009

FINAL Zambian Catch-Up from Chris Quite the Feet!

<>The Seeds of Hope Zambia staff, whom I will miss greatly!
<>Yes, this trip was quite the Feet!


SO... my last few days in Zambia were filled with wrap-up of the HIV/AIDS Education and Prevention program. This included
<>overnight trip to Lusaka to meet with CHRESO again, and explore some start-up details
<>getting the hygiene-sanitation team to begin the )new to them) process of building curriculum for HIV AIDS information-giving in the villages. The results of my intense survey is that there is nothing written or planned for HIV AIDS info in the hygiene-sanitation section, so we started the laborious process of building that.
<>meetings with Seeds of Hope leadership about the 'where do we go from here?' question. I have completed a comprehensive ident of the HIV AIDS resources, locations and players in Ndola. I have gathered a library of existing curriculum. I have met with other HIV AIDS groups to build cooperation relationships. Now what?
That question (now what?) is definitely the tough one. Every NGO has a desire to do HIV AIDS work in Zambia (14 % of population infected), but the life of national Zambians is so tough that there is little time for volunteerism. That means the 'NGO economy' needs to help provide some $$ for workers, and that $$$ has dried up from the USA, Canada and Europe due to the econ crisis. In meetings held with a major donor visiting Zambia, they would love to cut some $$ for the HIV work, but don't have it.
So, the next year is unclear as to what we will be able to implement.
<>Packing for the long flight (lot's to consider with multi-national security issues)

SO, on Tues 15Sept with a heart saddened to leave my new friends, the Zambian SHIP staff prayed and commissioned me off to return to America... and the commissioning was a bit 'we are blessing you to go home and make plans and come back soon and bring your wife and stay a long time..." They told me I am now part Zambian... wow!

The 2-day flight was the usual grueling around-the-globe flight... Ndola to Johannesberg (South Africa)... layover... J-Berg to Dakar, Senegal... layover... Dakar to New York/JFK... breakfast... NY to LAX, and teh smiling face of my loving wife. Yes, all my luggage made it, wrapped in cellophane (cost 6$ a bag, and known to reduce petty thievery internationally).

Final thoughts on '50 Days in Zambia':
Zambia: wonderful people, beautiful country, terrible economy
Looking forward to going back
Avoiding all the 'NGO pitfalls' (Anglo expats working in south-central Africa) will be hard to do
'Thank you' is the best word/phrase to learn first thing off the plane.
The Lord is really working in Zambia

My favorite picture? The Feet... kids in a village near the Congo border... feet that walk the paths and bush... feet of kids with few resources who were laughing and teasing me and playing around and gave great big hugs when we left... feet that help their moms carry water over a mile to take home every day...

It was quite a 'feet' to get to Zambia, but I have to go back and put my feet in the circle again!

your bro,


Zambia Catch-Up Chris and Peter Makin a Joyful Noise

Basic track recording for
Mulampela Amapalo
(Bemba for: You Give Me Blessings)
Artist: Peter Simba M
guitars/bass/production: crisbaj (me!)
engineer: robert
rapper: Obi-B

<>layin down some funk-bass
<>Peter Simba rollin' a vocal line
<>the boys learning the song together (Peter wrote it 2 days ago)

What can I say? One week B4 I fly, and I spend the better part of the night in a studio maintained by the Baptist Mission in Zambia (Thanks, friends!) with Peter Simba M working on a worship tune. This was the culmination of a dozen meet-ups to talk about worship and music and song-writing and recording... and did it happen!

Shortly after we traversed the city to get to the studio, we quickly got to work on this track. (trippy: out in a really poor neighborhood, walking thru really rough roads, and bang! There's the studio, and inside the walls and building is a computer-equipped recording operation!)
Once we had worked out something different for Peter... a R&B, groovy-funky line with smooooth and warm guitar lines underneath... Peter cut a demo-reference vocal so that we could build around that for the song... and a spirit of worship filled the studio, and all the studio staff (even the people from outside) were coming in the booth to listen, and began singing the lyrics... to a new song they just learned during the vocal take! Meanwhile, Obi-B, a studio teck started going off in a worship-rap... so we eventually recorded the rap, plus some sweet stuff around the track. By the time we left, there was a basic song, with Peter needing to come back and clean it up plus record a final vocal.

Riding home in a very dark taxi for quite a few Kms, Peter and I talked about the lack of a recording of the beautiful Bemba worship songs that everyone in Copperbelt knows. Nobody has captured those beautiful, melodic, call-and-response, uniquely Zambian-African songs. SOOOO... yep, we are planning a project in 2010 to do a simple instrumental + a small vocal choir and 10-12 of these great Bemba worship songs. Peter wants to make it a fund-raiser for the HIV orphan project he works at each weekend...

Next morning, word got out that Peter and I were recording this awesome track the night before, and the group pressed us to lead it out during morning worship. Once again, everyone was singing it with vigor after one trip thru... the sign of a great worship song, congregational sing-ability and quick connection.

OK, how am I going to get my guitar to Zambia next year...

your bro, Chris (or crisbaj on the album sleeve... recording due out Jan 2010).

Zambia Catch-Up 1: Copperbelt Nursing by Chris

<>In the Copperbelt Nursing Polytechnic, after the lecture on public health nursing... a number of male students!
<>Stephanie and I looking at CNP textbooks. The school is totally dependent on textbooks, papers and chalk-board lectures. No overhead, no computers... and they are working hard to make it happen!
<>Outside the CNP with some of the students. Many are already nurses, returning for their 'diploma' and advancing their skills

08 Oct Hello, all! This is a catch-up on the last bit of the '50 days in Zambia' Blogs... from Sept 5 until my fly-out of Ndola on Sept 15th, I was unable to Blog on the last days, and the good things that happened... here is a catch-up Blog.

I had previously blogged on making a connection with the Copperbelt Nursing Polytechnic in Ndola, one of Zambia's few private nursing schools. Founded and run by Stephanie, a woman of faith, she and her faculty have over 100 nursing students who complete a 3-year curriculum for a 'diploma' status in Zambia. At my first meeting, Stephanie invited me to come and lecture to a group of students about the public health nursing HIV AIDS project I was working on. Her school is faith-based, with an emphasis on spiritual development as the skills of nursing are perfected.

So, today (8 Sept) I had the honor of delivering a 2-hour interactive lecture on "Community as Patient: Ndola and HIV AIDS Services". Little did I know that, in the room of 35 students, there were a number of practicing nurses who have returned to gain the higher 'diploma' status, many of whom are active in governmental clinics and hospitals that are direct care-givers for HIV/AIDS clients and programs. I opened up a great deal of discussion on increasing and improving HIV AIDS services in Ndola, and they helped fill the chaulk-board with new ideas! I came away with a couple of distinct ideas that will require further investigation in building the HIV AIDS Ed/Prevent program we are working on.
After the lecture, a few of us lined up on the steps for pictures. The others left quickly at the end of the lecture... big test tomorrow!
Afterword, I met with Miss Stephanie and she showed me some of the current textbooks being used, all dated in the late 1990's. When I return to the States, I will start asking colleagues and fellow nurses to help me send updated textbooks to Copperbelt Nsg.

On the long trip back to my quarters in Kensheni, my heart was filled with a great gratitude to the Lord for the connection with 'my tribe' in Zambia... nursing and nurses... and a significant respect for the dedicated faculty teaching nurses in Zambia. These nursing professionals are working hard to further their skills and abilities in school, and to better care for their patients and fellow Zambians.

I am also grateful for this relationship, and praying how I may be able to help CNP in the future. I have long been trying to connect with a nursing school in a developing/low-resource country in hopes of helping their efforts. I now have this great connection, an invitation to come back and teach on clinical physical assessment skills (one of my favorite topics!), and I hope we can find updated textbooks and nursing skills-lab materials for them.

Lord, bless and protect the Copperbelt Nsg Polytechnic!

Final bit. When Miss Stephanie and I walked into the room, ALL the students stood up and said, "Good afternoon, Professors!" They stood until thanked, and asked to take their seats. After my introduction, I couldn't help but comment that I wish my nursing students were here, and that I bet they would find it interesting... to which a student raised her hand and asked, "you mean they don't stand and greet you in America??" Ahhh, yes....

Friday, October 2, 2009

02 October Chris in Reno, NV

Hello, all!

Huge apologies for not posting more since my return from Zambia, or our return from the HealthCare Conf at Fuller in Pasadena, CA...

Since the return (I know, a bit of whining...) we have been bombarded with having to have a vehicle towed and repaired, having to get my new computer system up and running, having to do alot of file/document rescue, having to take care of the HUGE pile-up of 'life-stuff' that needed to be looked at upon return, having to learn a new picture program so I can post pics to thei Blog (iPhoto is quite a different program than I've used in the past...) and THEN a week of both Lori and I fighting a viral respiratory thang...

So now we are up in the Reno area, visiting Hannah (daughter) and Luke (grandson) and Zack (son-in-law)...

SO... stay tuned for more from Blog-land... with pictures... on the final weeks in Zambia.

your bro,