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Back in Zambia

  Home leave was very nice, so nice that I gained nearly 15 lbs!  Now we are back to life in Zambia.  While in the US, I found myself unable to explain why we enjoy living in Zambia and after my day on Tuesday, I can’t quite remember myself.

  Tuesday morning was a bright but cool morning (that part I definitely like) and I rolled out of bed and filled my travel mug with coffee and drove the boys to school.  It seems the driving in Zambia has deteriorated significantly in the short time I was gone.  In general, the driving here is pretty good compared to most other African countries but there are a few basic things that keep you on your toes, four way stops are one.  Upon returning home, I had my second cup of coffee and got ready to meet one of my partners at 9 am (no shower as we now have a solar water heater and you either have a cold shower or wait until after 11 or 12 on sunny days).

  I met with my partner and due to a sick child the person who was to take him to look at some property had cancelled.  I had the time and thought it would be good to spend some additional time with him as I have been gone so long.  There were four Zambians with me as we drove to look at potential property for the organization (a donor had given them money to purchase land).  However, in order to reach the property, you had to pass through a small military base along the road.  As we approached, there was a gate over the road and I stopped to talk to the armed guards.  They informed us that we were not able to pass through because I was white!  They didn’t ask for identification as there are a few white Zambians (in fact the Vice President of the nation is white), they simply said that because I was white I could not pass through.  We tried a few different angles of arguement but turned around and returned just short of our goal.  (Normally I get irriated by the preference that whites are given in this country, now I have a small glimpse of being on the other side of racism).

  I return to town and begin the short drive from my partners location to the school to pick up the boys.  I was running a few minutes late but only had about 2 miles to the school.  However, the traffic was horribe and I was stuck in a long line at a red light with sellers (whom I don’t mind as they are just trying to make a living) and beggars (who I do actually mind because they are of the professional type who are always at this light and they are able bodied and capable of more).  As I slowly approached the light knowing that at the next green I would be through and then it would be smooth sailing to the school, I feel someone hit the vehicle from behind.  Arrgh!  We were stuck in traffic and moving slowly so there was little chance of real damage but involving the police would be a huge headache and backup traffic even further.  I got out and checked the truck and it seemed fine and checked the other vehicle and it only had a minor dent.  I approached the car and there was a Zambian mother with her two children and she appologized profusely (have I mentioned that I have a real soft spot for Zambian women as the culture is totally against them).  I said I didn’t see any damage to my car and little to hers.  She asked, “Are we OK then?” and I said sure.  She smiled widely and thanked me and put out her hand to shake mine.  Then the two kids in the back seat wanted to shake my hand (probably because I was white) which I gladly did.  I jumped back in the truck just as the light turned green and made it through.  Thankfully, what could have been a real problem was a real joy.

  I returned home briefly and then proceeded to my next meeting with iSchool (www.ischool.zm).  This is an organization that is attempting to address the generally poor education in Zambia with an interactive, computer and classroom based curriculum.  I had a good meeting and was excited to begin this work as I believe it has the potential to have a huge impact in Zambia and I am thankful to play a small part in this.  I then raced home to an excellent meal prepared by Cynthia and at 6:30 friends arrived for a movie night at our house.  Just as we decided on the movie, the power went out so the adults spent the time visiting and the children played hide and seek and who knows what else. 

  When I was in the US people would ask what a typical day looked like…  I would consider this a fairly typical day.  Some frustration, some hope, some progress, some disappointment.

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