Wednesday, 24 January 2018

What to do.... (and pictures)

As many of you know Zambia has been in the middle of a Cholera outbreak for the last few weeks meaning we were unable to open school at the beginning of January. Many markets were closed, street vendors banned, public meetings of more than 5 people banned and the army were sent out into the city make people to clean.
It was pretty difficult getting information about what was really happening. The ministry of health website has been down and people have had to rely on Facebook posts and radio reports which may or may not be 100% accurate!

While we were closed I used the days to do some training with the teachers.  They cleaned and learnt how to paint. We replaced wooden doors on the toilets with metal ones that don’t reach all the way to the floor! If the children came to find out what was happening they got to pick vegetables, mangoes and were given bars of soap and we finished knocking down and clearing the old building. I did lots of paperwork and taught the teachers how to paint, got rid of mould in my office and sorted it out. As the days went on it became quite difficult for the teachers to get to school as they were made to sweep the streets before they were allowed to pass and soldiers would quiz them where they were going so by the end of the first week, when we had already achieved lots on the 'cholera closure' list I had made, I told them not to come back until I called them.
I also spent some time doing nice things. I had Marcus come for a sleep over, went for coffee with various friends and spent lots of time with Memory before she headed back to University.
In the last week the government has rolled out a vaccination program with many people getting treatment and finally we were told that schools were able to open on the 22nd. So we did!

It has been so nice to be back in school with the children. The little ones seem very little and everyone has grown.

We are so thankful to have been able to open school again. Pray for the country that the opening of schools will not lead to a further spread of the disease.

We are also desperate for rain in Lusaka. It hasn’t rained properly for a long time. Normally rains start sometime in November however if it had been raining the cholera spread would probably have been much worse.
Dismantling the old building
The building has gone!

Big girls eating Mangoes

Vegetables, Soap and Mangoes
Iwell making new doors
One of the old, stained toilet doors.
A new door ready to be painted



Learning to paint....
Learning the importance of mixing the paint!
Clean and tidy office
My office
Coffee with Grace
Watching cartoons with Marcus
Playing Grufflo with Marcus
Memory time
Donating blood
Early morning airport run to drop Memory off

Saturday, 6 January 2018

A Surprise, Cholera and School

After the surprise meal we went to see the sea.

The Surprise!  

In August I was in the UK for my usual visit and while there planned and booked a surprise that, if pulled off, would be a feat of epic proportions - surprising my mum for her 60th birthday. We did it! I arrived in the UK on a Thursday afternoon. In Dubai I had surprised my cousin who was returning from 3 months working in South Africa with tear fund. Somehow, out of all the flights from Dubai to Heathrow and all the days I had managed to book myself on the same flight as Steph without knowing it. Just before I travelled I found out we would be together on the plane and decided to surprise her. Steph had no idea I was even going to the UK for Christmas and I have never seen her so speechless! 
After landing in the UK I hid at Ollie and Agis for 24 hours. We had planned to send Mum and Dad away for the weekend, little did Mum know that we were all going  to join them. So, on Friday lunch time, we gatecrashed their meal. It was so much fun planning and carrying out the surprise but I don’t think we will every get away with something like that again! 

Memo and I in the UK
In the 2 1/2 weeks that followed I saw lots of friends had Rachel and Memo visit (Rachel is the youngest daughter of Don and Christine and Memo is their  Zambian daughter) and saw all of my Aunties, Uncles, Cousins and my Grandma.  It really was a lovely time!  

Currently Zambia is in the middle of a Cholera outbreak. Throughout Lusaka there have been more than 2000 cases reported and close to 100 deaths. Cholera is spread through dirty food and water and poor hygiene practices. The army in Lusaka are supervising a huge clean up and the government are talking about vaccinating people against the disease. 
December is the end of the academic year for schools in Zambia. We finished in a blur of activity with end of term tests, a Nativity play and a Christmas party. With over 140 children and more than 3000 sweets for the scramble it was always going to be a little bit crazy but the children and staff all had a lot of fun. Thank you to everyone who contributed to our Christmas party and presents both independently and through Arise Africa.  You made lots of children very happy!  
At the moment the new school year is looking quite uncertain because of the Cholera outbreak. School was due to open on Monday as usual and the plan was to have 150 children enrolled. However the government has closed all schools until the 30th of January to stop movement of children and in turn try and prevent the spread of Cholera. 
In the mean time I am organising some training for the teachers  and we are planning, preparing and sorting out classrooms and resources. I am trying to make a plan to use the time as wisely as possible as we don’t normally have this much time without lots  of children around. We will have never had such an organised school! 
It is a very strange feeling being all ready to welcome new children and see the old ones again but not being able to. I expect some children will turn up on Monday. I want to buy soap to give to all the children that come. Many of them wont have soap in their homes as they cant afford it. Soap is such a small thing but it can make such a big difference!

We have done quite a lot of development around school making the area more suitable for cooking and improving the drainage. In the next few months we hope to build a suitable eating area and build some flush toilets.  
Play area
Cooking area newly paved

Lots of you are aware that Christine, who I stay with, has ongoing health problems. She has been suffering with a liver problem for almost 24 years now and in the last few months has seen a massive decline in her health. She is receiving care from a mixture of doctors in Zambia, South Africa and the UK and will return to the UK at the end of January for more tests and a review to see what the next course of treatment will be.

Please Pray For
  • Cholera. That the right decisions will be made about treatment and sanctions. Also for all the people affected by the disease.
  • That we will be able to open school soon and the children will be protected from any sicknesses.
  • That I would continue to be healthy.
  • For Christine's Doctor appointment to go well.
  • Talking to Chiara
    Cousins take mulled wine for a walk 
  • Cooking with Mila

    The Lockeys

    Peter and Mike liked our tree!
    Fish and Chips game

    Gift bags


    Birthday Minions!