Saturday, February 26, 2011

Zambia- Pre-Service Training

Hello from Zambia!

I am posting this from Lusaka. However, I am currently living in a village called Chishiko, near the town of Chongwe. I am living with a host family for the duration of training (9 wks left?). I live with my bamaama (mother) Martha, my banyinandumi (brother) Oscar, and my bacizyi (sister) Martha. Oscar is 21 and is in Grade 12. Martha is 5 and finally just got over being terrified of me last night. I have my own small hut next to theirs. I share a cimbuzi (toilet) and bafa (bath house) with them. We live in a field of maize so high that you cannot see your neighbor’s house even though it is only 10-20 meters away (i.e. there is a lot of yelling back and forth lol). 

I am learning the Tonga language, which my family helps me with, although they can speak 3-4 other languages, as can almost everyone here! When traveling down the road I can call out greetings in Tonga and get replies in a whole mixture of other languages. Once I am posted in Southern though, it will be all Tonga. Here, we are still relatively close to the capital, so it is quite the melting pot of people- which explains how they can do training here and place 60 of us with families speaking 6 different languages. 

So, my average day---I wake up at about 6:30 (my family wakes up at 5:45). I eat breakfast alone in their living room- 90% of the time it is white bread, peanut butter & jelly, a hard boiled egg, and instant coffee. Then I leave for class- I usually choose to walk (it’s about 10 min). We have language class with Ba Ryvin from 8:00-12:30. There is me & two others in the group (Larry & Meredith). Then I walk home for lunch, which I again eat alone in the living room (they either eat at different times, or just eat separately outside b/c they do not want guests/visitors witnessing the bad table manners of the children). Lunch is usually either rice or nsima (maize meal), nyabo (beans), cissyu-mani (vegetables), and soya (soy product) or nyamu (meat). After lunch I leave for afternoon training. If at the center, I walk (about 10 min. again, but in other direction). If at the Basic School, I have to bike about 5K (3 miles, 20 min) over big hills. Biking here is pretty tough b/c of the hills, crazy rough roads, and the burning sun! Afternoon sessions are from 14:00-17:00, then I bike home again. Sometimes we stop for a beer or a quick game of Frisbee/football before going home (but I try to always be home by 18:00). Warm bath water is waiting for me when I get home, so I do my bucket bath and get changed into PJ’s or citenge (wrap skirt). While bamaama prepares dinner, Oscar helps me study/practice my Tonga. Then bamaama and I eat inside, while Oscar and Martha eat outside (in the dark & on the ground). Dinner is just a bigger version of lunch- nsima, cabbage/leafy greens, nkuku (chicken) or nyama ya mpongo (goat meat- my favorite!). After dinner, we all sit in the living room together. I have tea. We either talk a little or just sit and listen to the radio. If Oscar is home, he entertains us, but he usually leaves after dinner to study at the school (b/c it has electricity/lights) and doesn’t get home until after everyone is asleep. I am usually in bed by 22:00.
On weekends, we sometimes bike into Chongwe (7K) to shop or hang out and have a drink. I have also done some chores at home (but she doesn’t let me do much) like getting water from the borehole, sweeping the yard and my ng’anda (house), washing dishes, or learning to cook. 

The LIFE group arrived here yesterday. There are 32 of them. I have met some, but not all. There are 3 joining us as Tonga’s in Southern- a married couple and another girl, but I haven’t met them yet. 

Other notable things I’ve done in Zambia---
I killed a chicken!
I watched a huge pig get brutally slaughtered!
I’ve survived lizards everywhere, even one coming out of my toilet! 

Tulabonana! (We shall meet again!)

P.S. Look for pictures on my Facebook! (If the upload goes well right now)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

First Blog from Zambia!

Hey everybody! I made it safely to Zambia. We got through all the flight delays, stayed a little extra in South Africa, and arrived in Zambia late Thursday night. We had introductions, bicycle measuring, shots, and a full day of training on Friday. I had a huge headache last night-do not know if it was dehydration, my first malaria pill, or just stress. But I feel better this morning! We had more sessions this morning and are currently in a mall, doing our grocery shopping for our first site visits.

So far, it is like we are taking baby steps, gradually going deeper into the "real" Africa. There is a lot of contrast here...poverty and dirt roads, and then malls and grocery stores....but we have not even really left the capital city/district yet. We are having more training sessions and a formal "ringing in" ceremony (the first one ever in PC Zambia) tomorrow. Then, on Monday we will go out in groups of 3-4 people to current volunteer sites across the country. We will stay with this volunteer and get a full idea of what their village life is like for 3 days, returning back to the head office next Friday. On Friday, I will learn my language group and host family village where I will spend the next 10-11 weeks!

I've taken lots of great pictures, but I won't have time to put any up yet. I'm already having a great time! Hope to be able to post more soon!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

More Flight Delays

We spent last night in a hotel in New York (and had fun!). We had to meet up at 5:45am today to pack the bus, but it was so icy, we were unable to get out and leave until 7:30 or so. Been at JFK airport since 8:00am. Check-in and security went fine for everyone. Been sitting in the gate area playing cards for hours. The plane is here, but for some reason we are still not boarding, but should be any minute now. By now though, it is so delayed that we will definitely be missing our connection in Jo-Burg, South Africa. So, tonight we will be put up in some hotel in South Africa, and will hopefully be out on a flight to Zambia tomorrow, or possibly the next day....

Everyone is great, very nice & friendly, and getting to be good friends already. PC has also done a good job preparing us and providing us with everything we need during this time!

Maybe next time I update, I will be in Africa???

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Change in Plans

Getting on a bus in 1 hour (7 pm) for JFK hotel (rather than 2 am as planned)! They are trying to get us there before the weather prevents it. They are still hoping the flight will make it out in the morning, but it is not looking too good :-(


I'm at staging in Philadelphia! everything has gone really good so far. Flight went smoothly, and about 8 of us got to baggage at the same time and took a shuttle together to the hotel. We checked in, got our rooms, registered with Peace Corps, got our spending money, went out to dinner as a group of 24, then about 10 of us went to a freaky bar afterward, finally getting back to the hotel at about midnight.

This morning we had a trip to the clinic at 7:00am, got a yellow fever shot only (rest to come in Zambia), and then have had free time the rest of the morning. Most of us spent our time walking around exploring Philly and seeing a few of the sights. Orientation sessions start at 12:30pm.

Lots of snow here!