Sunday, June 17, 2007

Progress at the new land….

Much has been done in the land development. What started out as a hope…a dream…a vision is now becoming a reality, though now still in infant stages. We came here to develop this vision and it is evident that we need to be here and that The Family Resource Center of Zambia will happen! It is rewarding to see the progress, but tiring as well. There is no question about it being HARD work!

So it started out as raw land. In Africa they call it the bush. Where do you start developing it? How do you know what you even have when there is elephant grass as tall as 12 feet all around you? It all has to do with timing…. We only have 2 seasons here, summer and winter…better known as the rainy season and the dry season. These seasons drive many things. Obviously you cannot do certain things when the rain comes every day and floods roads, creates mud and ruins your parade! It is great for the crops, but not for certain kinds of construction and excavation. When the dry season comes it is very common here to burn off the dry grasses. At that point you can really see the lay of the land and you can do many things impossible with heavy wet green grass. The real progress started when the rainy season ended.

Previous posts addressed the road construction. In order to get electricity, there needed to be a road for the trucks to drive to the interior of the land to place power poles. So the trees were cut and stumps were chopped and brush was cleared and burned. The bonus in all of this was that the cut trees could become charcoal…a valuable commodity here. But this “road” was only a service road. A real road for access to the heart of the land was needed. So more cutting, digging and clearing…. The road is about 800 metres or ½ mile. This road needed to be a good one, not just accessible by big trucks, but small cars as well. Huge rocks were a problem. A sledgehammer doesn’t do much except give you a headache. Solution: burn large tractor trailer tires on top of the rocks. The heat then cracks the rock and allows a sledgehammer to crumble it with a single blow.

It is a real blessing to be able to find hard workers. Because over 80% of the population is unemployed, many seek jobs. Mike was able to find 5 hard working and reliable Zambian workers who were thrilled to get a job. They work 8 hours each day, 5 to 6 days a week. They dig stumps, clear brush and create a smooth road. They are like having a machine. Going pay rate : $2.50 per day. They are so happy to have a job and we are so happy to have good workers. That is what you call WIN-WIN!

An important thing to have in any development is water. Not only is water important for cleaning and cooking, but also for making bricks. That is the next venture ready for us to try. So this past week the well-diggers came and at 70 feet they hit water. They kept drilling and after going through solid rock for 90 more feet hit water again. That means this water would be pure and uncontaminated. It could be drinkable just as it comes from the well! This would be the first of several wells that will be drilled on our land.

Next step… start making bricks. Mothers Without Borders has owned a brick making machine for over 2 years in anticipation of this construction. A shipping container was moved to the property for the secure storage of the machine. The water barrels are in place nearby and a primitive shelter has been constructed for some protection from the sun. This past week the bricks were started… much to everyone’s delight. To have it begin during the time an expedition of Americans was here was an added bonus!

In order to make bricks there has to be a source of dirt, a source of water and then bags of cement. It goes like this…For every bag of cement (25 kilos or 50 lbs) you need 10 construction-sized wheelbarrows full of dirt and 25 litres of water. The dirt and cement are mixed on the ground then about a gallon and a half of water is mixed in and shoveled into the machine where it is hydraulically pressed to create a brick every 15 seconds. Each brick weighs 11 kilos or 22 pounds. Someone needs to be there to take the brick from the machine and stack it in the holding area where it is watered daily to cured for 2 weeks. The goal is to make about 900 bricks per day. That means 100 wheelbarrow loads of dirt must be dug from the ground and wheeled several hundred feet to the construction site. That uses about 10 to 12 bags of cement and about 1 ¼ drums of water per day. If you were working full force this would require about 14 workers.

Now consider how many bricks we need to build this “village” of buildings…. 20 homes for children, staff housing, International volunteer housing, a lodge, school, clinic, country store, mill, vocational and business training center and a brick fence around the whole property !!!! I think we are going to be here for a while….

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Our new pet goat

So Liman brought home a goat from his remote village. I thought, what a nice pet! It was very cute and the bleating noise it made was very much like a little baby. It was great for a few hours. But she must have missed her goat cousins in the village because she bleated all night long. I woke up with dreams of babies crying only to discover it was the goat.

A couple of days later I noticed Liman sharpening a knife. Why would he need to do that in the yard? When he headed for the goat i knew my bad crying babies dreams were over. I will spare the readers what went on next. Let's just say she is bleating for the angels now.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Sew What?

So on the home front I have been working with sewing non-stop. First I helped our landlady and dear friend Mavis with her sewing orders. I didn’t do any of her sewing, just kept her moving along with the orders so she could complete them. I also helped pick out fabrics I thought would be desirable to Americans. She pre-made some bags and aprons and sold almost all of them. This sewing is a big thing for her. She really relies on the income and it helps keep her kids in college. She made about $500 in April, which is a lot for this country. Most people make about $100 to $200 per month if they have a good job. I have helped her with her patterns and ideas and have added some new things to her sewing repertoire.

2 years ago I worked with the MWB Sewing Club teaching some new things and working with the 15 to 20 women who belonged to it. I now have seen the positive results of not just my work, but many other American volunteers as well. Anyone who comes here with sewing skills can teach new things or reinforce old ones. Needlework, crocheting and sewing are all quickly learned and if the materials are available can literally put food on the tables of families here. That is where I am focusing now. Many of these women just need a little help sharpening their sewing skills and having new ideas of things that will sell. It has been a real flashback in time for me to go back to my early days of crafting and sewing. It is amazing how simple little projects that I did years ago can turn into something creative here that can be sold. Of course if it is to be sold to Americans or non-Zambians, then it needs to have a local “slant” to it…such as bright African fabrics or turning a cute white rag doll into a black one.

The sewing club met at my house last Friday. There were 17 ladies there. The purpose of the club is to join together with a common interest (sewing) and try to support each other in making things to sell. They each learned to make pj pants and all of them actually finished a pair. I decided to donate the fabric for one pair to each member and then from the profits they could in turn buy a 6 meter piece of fabric that could yield 5 more pair of pj pants. If they sold it would benefit each woman immediately. That is the plan and we will see if it works. All we need is for them to sell at the market on Saturday. I made them an American lunch of stuffed cabbage, barbequed beans, homemade rolls and cream puffs. Needless to say, I was pretty wiped out by the end of that day!

This week I have done some follow-through work with 3 of the women. They have come every day to make pj pants and rag dolls with matching dresses. We are hoping they are well-received by the buying public at the local craft market. Those that come and buy are almost all Americans and ex-pats (people who work here from other countries.) The next group of hopeful sales will be to the next American team of volunteers. It is hard to imagine that there are single women with 8 children to support and no jobs. How do they do it? That is what motivates me to keep thinking of new ideas for them to make. It is an interesting challenge. I explained to them the concept that I could give them a fish and it would feed them for the day, but if I teach them to fish it will feed them for a lifetime. It is still a lot of sewing to be able to feed 8 hungry kids....

Developing the Land

Life is not dull for us here in Africa. As ground support staff to Kathy, we get very busy when there is a team of Americans here. We will often attend the daily activities which is a field trip to a rural village, a visit to the hospital or orphanage or a day at the MWB farm…now known as the Children’s Resource Center. At least 3 of those days are spent at the new land helping to ready it for the major job of brick-making and development. We are currently enjoying a month between teams when supposedly it settles down a bit. Not a chance…

Here is what needs to go on to develop the land. We need electricity and water. In order to get electricity we had to prepare a way for the electric company to put poles in. So that means blazing a road for a big truck to come onto the land. Now our land is what we call the “bush”… lots of trees and bushes and really tall grass. It isn’t like a Tarzan jungle area, but more like a plain or plateau with quite a bit of foliage. So this particular task was a very large one. Once this was done we needed to get the electric company to come out and inspect the land and see if it was clear enough for them to work on. They did and it was. THEN they could prepare an estimate of how much it would cost to put in the electricity. That alone took a couple of weeks. We just got the estimate and as soon as it is paid they will put us on the list to have the work done. Then we wait up to 9 months for them to get around to us on their work schedule.

The next thing we need is water. We have to contract with a well-digger to have one or two wells dug. There are some wells there now but we need better and deeper ones. In order to make bricks for all the construction, we need water. We bought some used 55 gallon drums to hold the water for the brickmaking. We dug holes and sunk 5 of these drums into the ground. This is to make them lower and easier to access and to prevent thieves from stealing them. In order to fill the drums one needs to go to the well and drop the bucket to the bottom and then haul it up. That means you haul a 5 gallon bucket that weighs 40 pounds up out of the well 11 times making 5 to 6 trips with the wheelbarrow to fill each drum. Multiply that by 5 and you get all the drums full. By the way, the well is about a quarter of a mile from the drums.

When the April group was here they really helped clear the land and level it off in spots where things were going to be built. They also planted some banana trees. 25 people working hard for a day accomplishes a lot.

One thing we try not to tell too many people is that there are some snakes in the bush. Noone has been hurt so far, but many have been seen. The snakes are mostly cobras and some are spitting cobras. If you wear glasses you protect your eyes. They say the venom makes you go blind if they spit at you, and they always aim for your eyes. Mike found a cool snake skin. The biggest snake he has seen was about 8 feet long. They usually just slither away if they see humans, so no need to worry!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Rescue... Carol Zulu

The following story was written by Dianna Boyce, a team leader who has been with Mothers Without Borders for several years. Her description of the rescue of this very special girl is one that you will always remember. Thank you for sharing this with me, Dianna!

The Rescue
...that's right. Yesterday we really did rescue a child. Just be forewarned: this is going to be a L O N G one. Really, words cannot fully explain the events of the day. And, in writing, it may not all make sense. You just had to be there. Here's a little background information: At our kids camp at Julius Village earlier in the week we had the groups of kids perform dramas to end the camp. One group of about thirty young girls performed a song and this little girl, Carol, just sang her heart out. Our whole team got a kick out of her. She was a one-girl gospel choir. In fact, the Zambian volunteer we had with us, finally just had to cut her off from singing because she wouldn't stop. When she was finished she told our volunteer, "I just can't stop sometimes. I feel the Spirit of God so strongly that I just have to keep singing." I loved that.
In contrast, when Kathy arrived back from the States on Wednesday, our staff informed her of a little girl that had been treated in the medical screenings in Julius Village that they were quite concerned about. Josephine, our program director, had given her grandmother transport money to take her to a local clinic, but didn't know if she actually would. We ended up connecting that the sick little girl was Carol (although you never would have known it from the way she was singing!). I'll spare the details because it's pretty bad, but her medical examination showed that she has multiple STDs from being molested by an uncle starting about 2 years ago. Her condition has progressed so much that it's showing up as sores on her face as well. Kathy and Josephine made the determination that they needed to follow up on her condition.
Now, to the events of yesterday. Yesterday was titled "Africa Day" where as a team we rode in the back of our big truck, bought trees and then went to the newly purchased 55 acres of land and planted them. The team had to haul water from a well that's a fair distance away from the land. It was a great experience. We originally planned on slaughtering chickens at the farm with the kids there (they're pros at it!) but their water pump is broken and it takes a lot of water to boil and pluck the chickens. I witnessed that my first year and that was enough. I was o.k. with missing it.
While we were at the new land, Kathy, Fred and Josephine went to Julius Village to find out about Carol. We ended up meeting up with them on the road as we left the land and about 6 of us got off the bus and into the back of the truck because the bus was SUPER packed with people. We figured we were headed back to the farm for our sewing school graduation. Turns out Kathy received information from the village that Carol and her grandmother had gone to a clinic and Kathy wanted to see if they could find her before we went to the farm. We tried one clinic with no success and then drove about 20 minutes down the road to another. She had been there, but already left and all they gave her was amoxicillon. They didn't do any testing or refer her to VCT (that's voluntary counseling & treatment for HIV. It's free HIV testing and help). It was interesting to see the sense of urgency developing in all of us that we needed to find Carol. Kathy offered a prayer asking that we would be guided to find this little girl and know how to help her once we did. It was at least a 30 minute drive back to Julius Village. About halfway there we stopped to ask if anyone had seen them and a group of children told us they had been there and were headed back to the village. So, we pressed on. Eventually, after driving on the most African road I have experienced, we found Carol in the village.
She and five siblings are being cared for by her grandmother in the tiniest, dilapidated shelter-type structure you can imagine. It was beyond belief. Her father and mother abandoned them quite a few months ago. We learned from the grandmother that the father actually came to visit about 2 weeks ago, but saw Carol's condition and said he would never take her like that. That's the short version, of course. So, Kathy and Josephine talked to the grandmother about getting treatment for Carol. They offered to take her into MWB care temporarily so that she could be tested, receive treatment and get a little healthier. The grandmother was, of course, reluctant (who wouldn't be?) and wanted to seek permission from the parents first. That about sent Kathy over the edge. She had Josephine calmly translate that these parents had given up their rights long ago by choosing abandonment and neglect for their child and that the rights of this child had to be considered as well. It was kind of funny because we had George, the dad of the children's village farm, with us and he had about 30 seconds to decide if he wanted to become a dad yet again. What would his sweet wife, Faith, say? She's due to have a baby in about 2 months as it is! But when Kathy turned and asked him what he thought, his answer was, "Oh, yes, we must take her. We cannot leave her here." And when we asked Carol what she wanted to do, she said that she wanted to get well.
The grandmother's friend came over and listened to what was going on and told the grandmother that she should not hesitate. They had been praying that someone would come to help Carol so that she would get well and this was the answer to her prayers. (Thank goodness for Fred translating in my ear!) So, we loaded up Carol in the back of the truck with Kathy right beside her and she started singing. And she sang for all 45 minutes of the drive to the farm. When she wasn't singing, she was giving us little sermons about being forgiven and prayer. She told us that if we ask God for things, he will always take care of us and answer our prayers. Kathy asked her if she really believed that and she responded saying yes because God had given her food, clothes and family. Oh, did I feel humbled to be taught by such a strong, mature spirit in a tiny, sick, malnourished twelve-year old body. I wish you could have seen her. You can tell she has been taught the Bible well. I think she's definitely been part of some hand-clapping, vibrant church that has permeated every part of her.
When we got back to the farm around 4, (we were supposed to be there at about 12!) Carol first went around and shook everyone's hands, like she was the one welcoming them. One of the Americans went and got a sandwich off of our bus for her and Carol started breaking it off into tiny pieces and handing them out to the other children. It was just too much to see this hungry little girl put the needs of strangers above those of her own. What a lesson to be learned there! We finally convinced her after she gave over half of the sandwich away that she needed to eat the rest. So, for now, she'll be at the farm and next week she'll go get tested and, should her results for HIV show up positive she'll get on the ARVs (anti-retroviral treatment). It's going to be a long road though.
So, yesterday I had a true "Africa Day," although I never could have foreseen what the events would be. I really saw what it meant to be a Mother Without Borders. It means caring for children all over the world, but, also, just stepping outside of the border of our own families to save a suffering child. The tag-line of the organization is 'nurturing and caring for orphaned and vulnerable children.' I've never seen a clearer example than this. We were able to literally rescue this orphaned, vulnerable and exploited girl and put her in a safe place. That's what this organization is about. And that's what it TRULY means when we say, "One child at a time." This was hands-on, clinical experience that has kind of put me into an emotional whirlwind, but it will all settle eventually, and I will be forever changed because of it. Words cannot describe how blessed I feel to have been a part of this and to have stood by Kathy's side through most of it. Her ability to follow inspiration, to really be still and then act on specific promptings is amazing. I remember at Neal A. Maxwell's funeral it was said that "His genius was the product of diligence." I can't help but think of Kathy in that same way. She is tireless when it comes to saving these children and protecting their rights. I thought of Christ and how he wasn't just satisfied with the 99, but had to go searching for the lost ONE. We have 15 kids at the farm already. It's a huge responsibility and could probably be considered more than 'enough.' But, Kathy and Josephine found the One. It took searching and prayer and diligence, but they found her and now she is safe.
MWB has been working with this village for over a year now. They know Innocent and Josephine well and they are always so grateful for the American volunteers that we bring. One of the reasons the grandmother was comfortable and consented to us taking Carol is because of the trust we have established and support we have given to the village in their development. If all that has transpired in the past year or so with this village in building a strong relationship and bringing in our teams was just so that we could take that little girl into our care yesterday it was worth it. Just being able to help one really was enough.
Carol reminded me that happiness is not based on circumstances, it's based on your relationship with God. For all of the suffering that has occurred in her life, which is surely more than I will experience in a lifetime, the love of her Heavenly Father has transcended all of that. She can speak of forgiveness and love and sing praises to him. She knows that he is mindful of her and loves her. She has left a true 'heart-print' with me.
Whew! I knew it would be a long story. Really, when do I run out of things to say? :-) I'm so thankful for the time I have to be here. I miss home, but I needed the time here to really grow and gain understanding of who I am and what I am capable of giving. There is so much we can all do. Kathy has taught me that it's all about just being aware and available to what Heavenly Father wants us to do. If we can wake up each day and in our prayers say, "What would you have me do?" and "Where would you have me go?" we can truly do His work. I hope that I don't ever go another night without praying for children who are suffering and that those who have the means and ability to help them will be inspired, because I saw so clearly how our actions yesterday were an answer to prayers that had been offered up. Being here truly has changed me in every way and in every relationship that I have. I could never fully express how thankful I am for that.
The team leaves tomorrow. Maybe I'll email some 'lighter' things after that. I do have a good story about being chased by a dog on our run the other morning, but I'll save that one.

Much love from your humble, grateful and truly blessed friend,

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Sewing Club

Mothers Without Borders helped organize a sewing club. After learning sewing and needlework skills the women then produced items which they could sell for profit. Here at a monthly craft market Florence and Catherine sell club wares. Their specialty is market bags of all shapes and sizes which have been crocheted from cut up plastic grocery bags.

The Rainy Season

The rainy season does have its benefits for those who love to play in water!


Malaria is a fact of life here. It is a consideration every traveler must deal with. We take malaria preventive medication every day we are here. It is an important thing because now it is the rainy season and I get bitten by mosquitoes a lot. They are an interesting variety, too…. They are really quiet and fast and bite you without you realizing it until you start itching. I have never even heard a buzzing from a mosquito here at all, but I can testify their bites itch!

I didn’t realize how bad malaria was until Kathy had it while she stayed here the past few weeks. She had contracted it years ago when she was in Kenya and once you get it in your blood you never get rid of it. It can reappear later as did happen with her. I am including some interesting facts on malaria for you to read:
Malaria is a long-lasting disease of the blood. It is transmitted to people by mosquitoes infected with the malaria parasite. The malaria parasite attacks the blood and causes recurring chills, fever, and sometimes jaundice and anemia. In the United States, the main risk is to persons traveling to tropical and subtropical countries where malaria is a problem.

Malaria Worldwide
Forty-one percent of the world's population live in areas where malaria is transmitted (e.g., parts of Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Central and South America, Hispaniola, and Oceania).
An estimated 700,000-2.7 million persons die of malaria each year, 75% of them African children.
In areas of Africa with high malaria transmission, an estimated 990,000 people died of malaria in 1995 – over 2700 deaths per day, or 2 deaths per minute.
In 2002, malaria was the fourth cause of death in children in developing countries, after perinatal conditions (conditions occurring around the time of birth), lower respiratory infections (pneumonias), and diarrheal diseases. Malaria caused 10.7% of all children's deaths in developing countries.
In Malawi in 2001, malaria accounted for 22% of all hospital admissions, 26% of all outpatient visits, and 28% of all hospital deaths. Not all people go to hospitals when sick or having a baby, and many die at home. Thus the true numbers of death and disease caused by malaria are likely much higher.

No vaccine against malaria is available. Travelers can protect themselves by using anti-mosquito measures and by taking drugs to prevent malaria.

How is malaria spread? A person gets malaria from the bite of an infected female mosquito. The mosquito bite injects young forms of the malaria parasite into the person's blood. The parasites travel through the person's bloodstream to the liver, where they grow to their next stage of development. In 6 to 9 days, the parasites leave the liver and enter the bloodstream again. They invade the red blood cells, finish growing, and begin to multiply quickly. The number of parasites increases until the red blood cells burst, releasing thousands of parasites into the person's bloodstream. The parasites attack other red blood cells, and the cycle of infection continues, causing the common signs and symptoms of malaria.

When a non-infected mosquito bites an infected person, the mosquito sucks up parasites from the person's blood. The mosquito is then infected with the malaria parasites. The parasites go through several stages of growth in the mosquito. When the mosquito bites someone else, that person will become infected with malaria parasites, and the cycle will begin again.
Malaria parasites can also be transmitted by transfusion of blood from an infected person or by the use of needles or syringes contaminated with the blood of an infected person.
What are the signs and symptoms of malaria? People with malaria typically have cycles of chills, fever, and sweating that recur every 1, 2, or 3 days. The attack of the malaria parasites on the person's red blood cells makes the person's temperature rise and the person feel hot. The subsequent bursting of red blood cells makes the person feel cold and have hard, shaking chills. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea often go along with the fever. The destruction of red blood cells can also cause jaundice (yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes) and anemia.

Kathy’s words to us, “You don’t ever want to experience this disease for yourself. Take it from me, it is the sickest I have EVER felt in my life!”

How soon after exposure do symptoms appear? The time between a mosquito bite and the start of illness is usually 7 to 21 days, but some types of malaria parasites take much longer to cause symptoms. When infection occurs by blood transfusion, the time to the start of symptoms depends on the number of parasites in the transfusion.

What complications can result from malaria? Malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum can cause kidney or liver failure, coma, and death. Although infections with other malaria parasites cause less serious illness, parasites can remain inactive in the liver and cause a reappearance of symptoms months or even years later.

What is the treatment for malaria? The treatment for malaria depends on where a person is infected with the disease. Different areas of the world have malaria types that are resistant to certain medicines. The correct drugs for each type of malaria must be prescribed by a doctor.
Infection with Plasmodium falciparum is a medical emergency. About 2% of persons infected with falciparum malaria die, usually because of delayed treatment.


Almost everyone here seems to struggle for survival continually. Very few people have good steady jobs. The unemployment rate is about 85% - 95%. The things they need are basic… food and shelter. Food comes in the form of mealymeal…a ground corn meal which is cooked with water to form a heavy paste. It is rolled with a “relish” of meat, chicken, fish or vegetables and eaten with hands. Shelter comes in the form of a block home. The blocks are made from the dirt or concrete. Not all have windows. As in all places, the homes can be very nice or not very nice at all. Some have cement floors, while others only dirt floors.

Most do not have steady jobs. They survive by doing “piece work”… short temporary jobs or making anything which would sell for a small profit from carved animals to furniture or from knitted hats to rag rugs. There are hundreds and thousands of little stands by the road. They may be stocked with a small variety of items from a store, or just fresh vegetables, or kapenta (a small dried fish) or eggs or roasted corn. The hope is that someone will buy enough from them to provide enough money for a bag of meal. Labor is readily available. The going rate is about $2.50/day. If they own a home it is paid for. There are no mortgages. Often times people spend years building a home, completing it as they have money. They can move in as soon as there is a roof. Electricity is available but enjoyed by less than half the homes. A second home means rental income.
Truly the biggest challenge to most people is finding a way to survive. More are hungry than not.

Very few people own cars. During normal church services which would be about 150 people, we might find 6 or 8 cars in the parking lot. There are many taxis here and a public bus system. Most people are used to walking long distances on a daily basis. With gas at $6/gallon it is very expensive to own a car. The roads are very hard on cars. Many are not paved and the ones that are paved have huge potholes which most people swerve around continually. The rainy season creates a heavy toll on the dirt roads. They are just like washboards. Driving here requires acute concentration. Not only do you drive on the left side of the road, but you must be constantly aware of the hundreds of pedestrians that you pass along the way who walk on or close to your driving path. At night it is nearly impossible to see them.

In spite of their circumstances, most people seem happy. They find ways to survive. The family unit has a very strong sense of caring for each other. Any extended family member is helped if at all possible. With the high death rate here it is common to have grandmas and aunties taking care of orphaned children in their family.

History of Zambia

History of Zambia

Today the country is made up almost entirely of Bantu-speaking peoples. Empire builder Cecil Rhodes obtained mining concessions in 1889 from King Lewanika of the Barotse and sent settlers to the area soon thereafter. The region was ruled by the British South Africa Company, which Rhodes established, until 1924, when the British government took over the administration.

From 1953 to 1964, Northern Rhodesia was federated with Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and Nyasaland (now Malawi) in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. On Oct. 24, 1964, Northern Rhodesia became the independent nation of Zambia.
Kenneth Kaunda, the first president, kept Zambia within the Commonwealth of Nations. The country's economy, dependent on copper exports, was threatened when Rhodesia declared its independence from British rule in 1965 and defied UN sanctions, which Zambia supported, an action that deprived Zambia of its trade route through Rhodesia. The U.S., Britain, and Canada organized an airlift in 1966 to ship gasoline into Zambia.

In 1972 Kaunda outlawed all opposition political parties. The world copper market collapsed in 1975. The Zambian economy was devastated—it had been the third-largest miner of copper in the world after the United States and Soviet Union. With a soaring debt and inflation rate in 1991, riots took place in Lusaka, resulting in a number of killings. Mounting domestic pressure forced Kaunda to move Zambia toward multiparty democracy. National elections on Oct. 31, 1991, brought a stunning defeat to Kaunda. The new president, Frederick Chiluba, called for sweeping economic reforms, including privatization and the establishment of a stock market. He was reelected in Nov. 1996. Chiluba declared martial law in 1997 and arrested Kaunda following a failed coup attempt. The 1999 slump in world copper prices again depressed the economy because copper provides 80% of Zambia's export earnings.

In 2001 Chiluba contemplated changing the constitution to allow him to run for another presidential term. After protests he relented and selected Levy Mwanawasa, a former vice president with whom he had fallen out, as his successor. Mwanawasa became president in Jan. 2002; opposition parties protested over alleged fraud. In June 2002, Mwanawasa, once seen as a pawn of Chiluba, accused the former president of stealing millions from the government while in office. Chiluba was arrested and charged in Feb. 2003.
Although the country faced the threat of famine in 2002, the president refused to accept any international donations of food that had been genetically modified, which Mwanawasa considered “poison.” In Aug. 2003, impeachment proceedings against the president for corruption were rejected by parliament. In April 2005, the World Bank approved a $3.8 billion debt relief package for the country.

In Sept. 2006 presidential elections, incumbent Levy Mwanawasa was reelected.

The New Land

The new land where the Family Resource Center will be about 20 miles outside of Lusaka. Right now it is the rainy season and there is plenty of tall green grass. As the rains stop it all turns dry and brown. Often times farmers will burn the dry grass to clear it. During this time men will "slash" it to cut it down using machetes.

Facts about Zambia

Geography: Size is 752,614 sq km , slightly larger than Texas, US. Zambia has a tropical climate which is modified by altitude. There's one rainy season which lasts from October to April. Zambia's terrain is mostly high plateau with some hills and mountains. Its lowest point is the Zambezi river at 329 m and its highest point is an unnamed location in Mafinga Hills standing at 2,301 m. Zambia is a landlocked country with the Zambezi river forming a natural boundary with Zimbabwe.

Zambia has moved from being a major copper producer and potentially one of the continent's richest countries at independence in 1964 to one of the world's poorest.
A colonial legacy, mismanagement, debt and disease are said to have contributed to the country's tribulations.
Zambia is landlocked and sparsely populated by more than 70 ethnic groups, many of them Bantu-speaking. It has some spectacular scenery, including the Victoria Falls along the Zambezi river, the Bangweulu Swamps and the Luangwa river valley. In the late 1960s it was the third largest copper miner, after the US and the Soviet Union. World copper prices collapsed in 1975 with devastating effects on the economy.
The World Bank has urged Zambia to develop other sources of revenue - including tourism and agriculture. Even so, copper accounts for most of Zambia's foreign earnings and there is optimism about the future of the industry, which was privatised in the 1990s. Electronics manufacturers have fuelled demand and investment in mines has grown.
Aids is blamed for decimating the cream of Zambian professionals - including engineers and politicians - and malaria is a major problem. Millions of Zambians live below the World Bank poverty threshold of $1 a day.
Zambia hosts tens of thousands of refugees who have fled fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Population: Just over 11 million people live in Zambia. Life expectancy is around 39 years. Birth rate is on average 5.47 per woman. 16.5% of the population is believed to have HIV/AIDS, although many claim that it is closer to 35%. Literacy rate is at 80%.
Languages: English (official); major vernaculars include Bemba, Kaonda, Lozi, Lunda, Luvale, Nyanja, Tonga, and about 70 other indigenous languages.
Ethnic Groups: African 98.7% (major tribes - Bemba, Kaonda, Lozi, Lunda, Luvale, Nyanja, Tonga, Chewa), European 1.1%, and other 0.2%.
Religion: Christian 50%-75%, Muslim and Hindu 24%-49%, indigenous beliefs 1%.
Tropical climate; modified by altitude. The rainy season is normally between the months of October to April.

It is mostly high plateau with some hills and mountains. The lowest point are the Zambezi river 329 m and highest point the unnamed location in Mafinga Hills 2,301 m above sea level.

Natural resources
These are copper, cobalt, zinc, lead, coal, emeralds, gold, silver, uranium, and hydropower

Land use
Arable land: 7.08% permanent crops: 0.03% other: 92.9% (2001)
460 sq km (1998 est.) irrigated land. Currently this is improving as more commercial farming is beginning mostly in the central province of Zambia.

Natural hazards
Periodic drought and tropical storms between November and April.

Environmental current issues
These are air pollution and resulting acid rain in the mineral extraction and refining region; chemical runoff into watersheds; poaching seriously threatens rhinoceros, elephant, antelope, and large cat populations; deforestation; soil erosion; desertification; lack of adequate water treatment presents human health risks.

The infant mortality rate. (Year 2005 estimate.)
Total: 88.29 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectance
The total population is: 39.7 years
Total fertility rate
5.47 children born/woman

Thursday, March 1, 2007

This is the gate in front of our house. It must be opened and closed every time we enter. At night it is padlocked in 3 places.

City street: no houses in view...only the walls in front of them.

Glass shards and broken bottle are cemented into the tops of all the walls so trespassers cannot climb over them.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


Today’s topic is SECURITY. In America we don’t think too much about security unless we are flying and then in the airport there becomes quite a visible reminder that the world in no longer a safe place. We live in a safe haven in Bloomfield where the keys can stay in the car in the driveway if we want. We rarely lock the house and never worry about being mugged in Canandaigua or Rochester. You can go anywhere without fearing a pickpocket or purse-snatcher. Certainly there are large American cities where this is not the case, but for the most part we all feel very safe.

Not so in Zambia. Security is a HUGE thing here. Continual vigilance is necessary. I think the reason is because there are so many people who are without jobs, or food or real necessities that they are desperate for any way to get them. Theft is the biggest crime issue.

To insure the safety of what you have there are many precautionary measures you must follow. We have been quite careful to diligently follow the “rules” that everyone here follows.

Lock all doors. First of all we never leave anything visible on the car seat. They are stowed in the boot of the car. Car doors are always locked, as they are in the US when away from home. Now the house locks are a bit extreme. First you must know that EVERY house has burglar bars. So opening the windows requires maneuvering around the bars. The iron burglar door has 2 huge bolts that slide into the door frame and then a hearty padlock holds them locked. Then the door is locked. The same thing is true for the back door. Our landlady apologized for not having 2 separate padlocks for each door and suggested that we get another. The windows must all be shut and locked upon leaving the house. So in order to leave it takes about 10 minutes to “lock up.” Once we head toward the street we must stop and open the gate to the street. All the houses here are protected by huge cement walls all around them. Monster metal gates must be opened and closed each time you leave your house. At night or in the morning you must unlock the monster padlocks (3 in all and with 3 different keys) in order to come or go. If you have money you can hire a gatekeeper. For $50 per month he will guard the gate and open and close it for anyone coming or going.

In the downtown area we really should go with a Zambian. Thieves are abundant and will not hesitate to snatch a purse or slice a pocket to get a wallet or cell phone. Much as we would like to, it is impossible for us to “blend in” here in Zambia. We stick out quite visibly. That means we also are easy targets. I never carry a purse when I go into crowded shopping areas.

Even in the large home where we have stayed each time we have come, we always have locked our bedroom door EVERY time we leave it. The front living room was always kept locked. Now the freezers and food pantries are kept locked.

Since crime and theft have become major issues over the last 20 years or so, all the homes in the city have erected block walls completely around them. You never can tell what kind of house is behind the wall. Furthermore on the tops of the walls (while the cement was wet) they have stuck large shards of broken glass. This prevents anyone from climbing up and over the wall. My landlady has instructed me to be sure to remove all laundry from the line before retiring for the night. All tools like shovels or ladders also must be brought in. We actually try to hide all of our valuables in the house when we leave. We are told horror stories of how thieves in neighboring Zimbabwe will release a gas into homes that insure that the people sleep while burglars walk away with everything they own. If guns are used, they are usually for threatening the victims and if no resistance is shown they are not harmed.

We are told to watch carefully if we return at night to be sure no one is following us down the street as we approach the gate. Thieves will come steal your car while you are stopped to unlock your gate. We are needing to look into getting “gadgets” that lock onto the steering wheel and prevent car theft.

Vigilance is the key. My friend Edah now locks her freezer and keeps food supplies in an unused old but locked refrigerator. She says it happens because people are simply hungry.

Zambia is filled with people whose existence is simply to find enough food for themselves and their families. Anyway they can they try to earn a pittance…. Selling food by the road, raising chickens for eggs or meat, crocheting totes out of plastic grocery bags…day to day or meal to meal…many struggle.

In the meantime we grumble because we have so many locks …. !

Monday, February 12, 2007

girls from the farm

Laundry in Lusaka

Catherine hanging up the laundry. She does a great job helping me around the house and my clothes are cleaner than ever!

Water, Plumbing and Washing

The water here in Africa is not safe to drink. This really is a major issue to deal with in our day to day living. Bottled water is readily available and is used for all drinking, cooking and brushing of teeth. The alternative is boiling the water for at least 20 minutes. When you use as much as we do in cooking and just living here full time we definitely use this procedure. I have a huge tea kettle that I fill at least once a day and boil for 20 minutes. The whole procedure takes 2 hours. When it is cool I pour it into a 4 gallon covered container which is always then available for use. We refill water bottles and chill them for drinking. The only problem is the heavy mineral content in the water. By the end of the pot we have to discard the cloudy sediment-filled water. Even the native people here follow the water-boiling procedure, so it must be very important.

For washing dishes I put a capful of chlorine in the wash water and the rinse water. For vegetables : they are first washed off, next thoroughly soaked in chlorinated water and then rinsed in boiled water. I was worried because some people don’t eat lettuce, but following this procedure I have done a couple of tossed salads without getting sick at all.

Now the plumbing is another story. Everyone has a geezer. That is a hot water tank that is usually outside. Ours gets so hot that it boils the water. We have to shut it off part of the day. The showers are very difficult to regulate. You either freeze with icy water or get scalded. Once in a while you can balance it to get a warm shower…..or should I say a warm sprinkle. The water pressure is another issue. There are some solutions to this problem. Since outside my door we have a large area of weeds that I hope to transform into a garden I find that if I get up at daybreak and work in the garden until I am ready to faint with heat that a cold shower is very refreshing and I don’t mind it a bit. The other choice is to take a bath, since we do have a bathtub. So far I am good with a cool sprinkle.

Washing clothes is all done by hand. Since we have a maid, I don’t mind that at all. The clothes get a lot cleaner than my washing machine at home did. And when I help hang up the clothes I am immediately transferring back in time to when I was a farm girl hanging up the wash on my mother’s clothesline so it could whip in the wind. Now say what you will about technology…there is nothing that smells better than clothes coming off the line. They all get ironed…even underware and towels. I didn’t understand why until Edah explained to me that ironing kills the bugs that might be in them. (and I thought it was to merely press them so they looked good!) It does soften up the stiff things.

How MWB is set up

In order to understand the terminology that I use I probably should define a few terms regarding the structure of Mothers Without Borders here in Zambia. There are some local employees as well as local volunteers. The volunteers are not on the payroll, but receive many benefits as they work with MWB. They may receive housing or meals, etc. Innocent is the country director, Josephine is the program director. They keep the programs going here in Zambia as directed by Kathy. Faith and George are the house parents at the “farm” with Boxen, Fagness and Helga all assisting in the care of the children and the household. Fred and Webster assist as directed in various areas.

The “farm” is a rural farmhouse that is rented by MWB to house the many children who have been rescued from a life of neglect or abuse or abandonment. They live in a family environment where their needs are met and they receive not only food and shelter and clothing, but loving adults who care for them and have become their family. They go to school, participate in daily chores and learn what family responsibilities are. They attend church if they choose to, and most always do. I will be profiling each child sometime soon at this site. Their stories are very sad, but the life they have now is very hopeful and promising.

The idea for the new Family Resource center is to replicate what has been created at the farm many times over. By having a “village” of homes where a couple or perhaps a widow can care for 12 children in a home environment is the ideal alternative to an orphanage. Supplementing these homes will be a health clinic, a school, a vocational training facility, a farm where orchards and crops and animals can be grown to provide food for the homes and stores where items can be sold to the public that have been produced at the center.

The children at the current farm have come to love the employees and volunteers that serve them. They also love each and every American volunteer team that visits for 3 weeks and enriches their lives with love and attention. Most of all they love Auntie Kathy. She has developed a wonderful program here and has a great vision of how to turn this “farm” into the Family Resource Center of Zambia. When it is completed we hope it will be a prototype for others throughout Africa. We hope to be able to make this Center self-sufficient, so that it can support those who live there, thus giving hope to a generation that has been smitten with a dread disease.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

I'm a little teapot

This is my petite teapot for sterilizing water. Holds about 2.5 gallons and takes 2 hours to come to a boil and remain boiling for 20 minutes.


So that white blob on Evan's plate is NOT mashed is nshima and is the mainstay of the Zambian diet. Think of cream of wheat cooked with half the water ...! It is eaten with your hands. Roll a ball of it in your hand and dip it in the "relish" of meat, chicken or fish or vegetables.

Living in a 3rd world country….

I have been to Zambia two other times. I should know that in spite of being 3rd world, it is still on our planet. They do have civilization and Lusaka is a very large city. They have grocery stores, general supply stores, drug stores, movie theatres, internet caf├ęs and restaurants. Nevertheless it seems to be an instinct of mine to try to bring everything but the kitchen sink with me.

Living in an unknown environment can sometimes bring a little fear. For this reason I tend to try to be prepared for any unknown emergency that could befall us. Since the medical facilities are not very up-to-date and since you may find a hospital stay more detrimental to your health than a local witch doctor, I came prepared to solve my own health issues. That meant packing a little of every conceivable medication or treatment on the shelves of Wal-Mart. I now could open a local Zam-Mart with what I have. In fact, I think the local pharmacy would be jealous. Anyway, our health is great and we try to take precautions so we don’t end up sick. Malaria is a real threat but we take Malaria medication daily. We boil the water and use that for cooking and food preparation. We drink bottled water. We put chlorine in the dish water and rinse water. We use hand sanitizer all the time. In fact, we are probably much more likely to get sick at home than here in Zambia. But I am prepared…just in case! I even have a snake-bite kit!

Now I like to cook so I also had to bring everything I could possibly need to make every dish in my cookbook. Not really knowing what exactly was available on the grocery store shelves left me trying to pack a suitcase full of kitchen equipment and food necessities.

I brought a small baggie of at least 50 spices and herbs. I packed knives, cake, bread, pie & cookie baking pans, measuring tools, scrapers, whips and graters. Upon arriving here I have found them almost all available, but I know our food will taste better coming from my familiar equipment! The cost of getting everything here would have been very high, so it wasn’t wasted energy in bringing what I did. Plastic is pretty pricey here. Things you can pick up very cheaply at home are sometimes 5 or 10 times the cost. Yet other things are quite cheap. It will cost about $200/week for us to buy food.

We don’t really care for nshima (shee-ma) which is the mainstay. People eat it twice a day. It is finely ground corn which is cooked in boiling water. It is like cream of wheat cooked with half the water. It is served on a plate with “relish” which is a meat sauce and vegetables. You use your hands and roll the nshima in a ball and grab some meat and gravy and vegetable with it and then eat it…all with your hands. This saves on dishwashing with no silverware to wash. It is rather bland and does not taste bad. It just does not taste. The meat sauce that our hostess, Edah Chikusu cooks is always very tasty … beef or chicken cooked in a very good gravy. I have found a really good way to use the powdery fine mealy meal is to make corn muffins with it.

The sugar is like raw sugar at home. Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies are a bit different consistency, but noone seemed to turn them down.

Our living arrangements are coming together quickly. Kathy rented a small newly –built home for a year and we are moving in this week as soon as we finish the final touches.

This cottage has 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms with a kitchen and livingroom. One bedroom will be an office for Mothers Without Borders. We are busy buying furniture for it so we can move in within a few days. Part of the deal with having a home is that you usually can hire a maid for helping with the cleaning, cooking and laundry. The usual pay here is about $50/month. Our laundry is all done by hand since we don’t have a washer. We will be planting a garden very soon.

The owner, Mavis, is very nice. Her husband died very unexpectedly last April. This house helps support her. She is a seamstress for the teams that come and can make some pretty snazzy African outfits. She thought she also could raise some money by selling chickens. So right across the yard from us is a shed with 200 chickens in it. Now I don’t know if any of you have ever lived near chickens, but they have a very distinctive odor! Some days it isn’t too bad, but it can be pretty foul, or should I say FOWL!!!

The people here are wonderful. We feel very comfortable with them. In spite of their hard lives they are amazingly cheerful. We are humbled by what we learn from them daily. Whatever we may be able to contribute here is but a small thing compared to what we are gaining ourselves.

Life here is very different from home. Things are slower and less efficient. I feel like I am at girls camp. It is a challenge to try to figure out how to make things work without the tools we are used to. Different doesn’t mean bad…we are learning patience. We are learning to appreciate what we left behind.

We will continue to publish here….thanks for joining us! All is well and we appreciate your comments.

Love, Mike and Pam

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

continuing on...

If this is your first time on this site, please go to the bottom of the list and read from the bottom post to the top one, that way you will be reading them in order! I posted three times at once but the newest one is on the top and the oldest one on the bottom.

So the reason we are here is to get the Family Resource Center of Zambia started. In the past year MWB has been able to purchase just under 100 acres of land about 20 miles outside of Lusaka. Our goal is to make the roads, get the wells dug and get electricity to the land. Then we will begin making bricks for the construction of the first buildings. It is a massive project and things move at a rather relaxed pace here in Africa. One step at a time we will make progress. It takes someone being here for an extended time to actually push the work forward, so we packed our bags and came prepared to become Zambians for the better part of this year. We will be returning home around the 3rd week in March for a few weeks and then will come back here to resume this work as well as work with our church Humanitarian Services program for measles inoculation.

Thank you for joining us on this blog. Sign up for notification on this site if you want us to let you know when we update it.

Please also check out Mothers Without Borders on their website:

From Africa with much love,

-Pam & Mike Headlee

Children's Village aka Family Resource Center

Family Resource & Support Center - Zambia

We believe that all children should be raised and cared for in loving homes by their parents or other family members. The sad reality is there are many children who do not enjoy this basic right, due to illness, disaster or conflict. Millions of children have been orphaned and suffer neglect and abuse. These children are extremely vulnerable.

Local communities, already burdened with devastated economies, are struggling to meet the needs of this exploding population of orphaned and vulnerable children.

In response to the rapidly growing need, we have created the Family Resource and Support Center of Zambia. The Center is located on 80 acres of land just outside the capital city of Lusaka.

The Center provides the resources, training, mentoring and support that will enable communities and individuals to nurture and care for the orphans living in their midst in a way that most closely resembles family life.

Included in the project:

· Community Resource Center

· Preparatory School/Leadership Academy

· Health and Wellness Center

· Vocational Training Center

· Micro-Credit Bank & Small Business Institute

· International Volunteer Complex

· Local staff housing

· The Children’s Resource Center

The Children’s Resource Center

The Children’s Resource Center was created to provide orphaned and vulnerable children with the resources they need to enter society as caring, productive adults. The Center offers children found living in child headed households an opportunity to be raised in a family setting with caring adults who will mentor and encourage them.

In this environment we can meet their physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs. Each child is raised in a family setting, with house parents and caregivers. We keep siblings together. Each child has access to the following resources:

· Education

· Vocational training

· Spiritual development

· Grief and psychosocial counseling

· Opportunities to find and develop individual talents

· Involvement in community service

· Family reunification

· Healthcare

In addition to the Family Homes, the Children’s Resource Center also includes a Crisis Home for girls who have been abused, and a Hospice Care facility for the children who are dying.

We currently have 20 children in residence, with plans to build 6 new homes, which will allow us to offer services for up to 72 more children.

Community Resource Center

The purpose of the Community Resource Center is to:

1. Provide trainings and workshops that will assist members of the community in understanding the needs of the orphaned and vulnerable children in their community.

2. Train members of the community the skills needed to care for their families and the orphaned children. the orphaned children.

3. Provide training, workshops and mentoring designed to strengthen families.

a. Grief counseling

b. Meeting the emotional, social, educational and physical needs of children

c. Literacy for adults and children

d. First Aid

e. Nutrition and gardening

f. Health and hygiene

g. HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention

h. Accessing local resources, government aid and assistance.

4. Provide a lending library of relevant learning materials and reading books.

The Beginning...

Well here we are in the middle of Africa so far from friends and family, yet life is very good. We have been gone less than a week and our reality is now completely different than it was a week ago. We left a cold wintry village in upstate NY to end up in the middle of a hot and humid city in the middle of sub-Sahara Africa.

I look forward to documenting this adventure and I hope to get Mike to contribute, too. I hope you who join us on this web site will bear with my obvious lack of writing skills and feel the spirit of what I share. I hope I will be able to convey in word and photos a small portion of what goes on here.

The beginning…. Mike came to Zambia for the first time with his sister Kathy about four years ago. Kathy began a non-profit organization called Mothers Without Borders in an effort to help orphaned and vulnerable children all over the world. She has worked in Eastern Europe, South America, Central America, India and Africa. Her focus for the past five years has been in Zambia. Here the HIV/AIDS crisis has produced thousands upon thousands of orphans. She supports existing local organizations as they try to respond to this crisis. One step at a time MWB has expanded its support here and with each trip and each contact with the children here a vision has emerged for her. Mike returned four more times and in 2005 I made two trips here. Now we both share this vision with Kathy. There is a great work to do here and we have come to help continue what Kathy has started. We are here to support Mothers Without Borders as they develop the vision of a Family Resource and Support Center. I will make the next post all about this Center.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Ready to go

Mike and I are ready to go...this is the day of departure and we leave from home at 3:00 pm for a 10:30 pm departure from JFK. We hope you will follow our progress... Thank you for "joining" us!!