Its 2018…hard to believe, time seems to go past so quickly. A new year with new plans for early childhood in CCAP Synod of Zambia for 2018. Some of the plans I made for 2017 were not fulfilled but some things were done that were not planned for. All in all it was a busy and quite productive year! When something new is introduced to people, it takes time for them to understand it and then to decide it it is something that they want to be part of. I had planned to visit each Presbytery during 2017 to talk to ministers about ECD and see if it was something that we could start, or in some cases where there are existing nursery schools to assist.
However, as the year progressed the vision for ECD changed direction and for we decided to concentrate on two of the schools in Lusaka and see if we could then model other schools on them! So I have been working with teachers and committees and congregations in these two schools over the past year. While there has been a lot of progress, there is much still to do.
In December, at the request of Southern Presbytery, I worked with two congregations, one in Monze and one in Livingstone to help their committees and teachers with basic training so that they could open in 2018. This was something not planned for but the Presbytery themselves initiated, so that was exciting for me.
During school holidays I have been having training with the teachers in the schools in Lusaka. We plan for the following term and gradually they are learning more about how children develop and different activities they can do in the ECD centre to help the children be prepared for primary school! I have enjoyed these training sessions and its good to see the teachers grow and develop as time goes on.
I had the joy of working with one of the Young Adult Volunteers (PCUSA programme) in Chilenje called Susannah, and she helped both teachers and children a lot during her year in Zambia.
I also had the privilege of hosting Rev Noble McNeely and his wife Florence as part of their Moderator’s year!
I also had quite a few visitors – some planned, some not and I enjoyed having them all!
So…2018 what are the plans! Well, I had planned to have a week of training the teachers in Lusaka before schools opened on 15th January. Unfortunately, these plans were not implemented because in November we had a cholera outbreak in Lusaka which became much worse in December. This resulted in the ministry of education postponing opening of all schools in January. We were told by Government that there could be no meetings in certain parts of the city – even churches could not meet. In Mtendere, where I go to church the road is usually full of vendors selling their fruit and vegetables. Last Sunday they had all gone, the army were patrolling the compound and churches were only allowed to worship for a short time. It doesn’t seem like Mtendere anymore!
So the training did not happen, and schools did not open. However, during the last week the cholera rate has slowed down considerably and some schools are now able to open on 22nd January. I was able to organise two days with the teachers from Chilenje and Kabwata schools at the end of last week, so at least they have done some planning.
The schools in Livingstone and Monze are also opening on 22nd January, so this term I hope to visit both of these schools for a few days to spend time with the teachers and the committees in case they want any assistance. I will also spend time with the teachers in Kabwata and Chilenje to keep encouraging them!
It is exciting to see the schools develop, it is exciting to see the teachers develop but perhaps the most joy comes from seeing the children when they have their ‘lightbulb’ moment and suddenly see how something happens, or they can suddenly do something!
Plans for 2018 include setting up a Presbytery ECD committee in Midlands East Presbytery in Lusaka where the two schools I am currently working with are located. This will help in planning as a church. Of course, teacher training is ongoing so each holidays I plan to have training in Lusaka and in Livingstone. Handbooks for churches, Presbyteries, committees and teachers are currently being developed too…there is much to be done, I don’t think I will be bored!
Please pray that a Zambian might be identified to work alongside me so that when I leave there will be continuity in the programme. Also pray that we might find some way to get income within Zambia to run the programme.
I am really privileged to be able to do this job and to work with such amazing people. I am looking forward to the year ahead and to what is in store for our ECD centres in CCAP Synod of Zambia. There are many challenges but also many blessings. Thank you for journeying with me….leaving you with some of my birds from 2017, all outside my front door!
Its Monday morning here in Lusaka and its like an Irish summer dull day!! I seem to have a lot of photos in this blog so please bear with me!!
I spent 8 days in Livingstone in the South of Zambia where I was invited to help two of our congregations who hope to open two ECD centres in January 2018. Livingstone is the home of the famous Victoria Falls – unfortunately this trip I did not manage to visit but I have been there before and hopefully will be there again!
Flamboyant trees are just about over in Lusaka but are still in bloom in Livingstone – such incredible colour!
Not to be outdone are the Frangipani trees too…
The workshop was held in Livingstone CCAP church and there were 9 teachers in all, 6 from Livingstone and 3 from Monze. Teachers were a lot of fun, they were enthusiastic, had lots of questions and I really enjoyed the time with them. I look forward to seeing how the future holds for these centres.
Of course in our training, I try to use as many locally available materials as possible! One of the students, Richard, found this duckling outside and the child of one of the cooks really enjoyed him telling her about it!
We had two wonderful cooks during the time in Livingstone – the food was really delicious!
While I had no time off during the day, I was able to take a cruise down the Zambezi on my last evening there (not on this boat I might add)! It was a lovely cool evening and there were a lot of hippos, a few crocodiles and lots of birds on the river. Met some lovely folk too.
And as usual, there was a lovely sunset. The vessel you see in the picture below is from Zimbabwe as the falls is the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
So, after the week in Livingstone, its back to work in Lusaka. I had a meeting with Rev G Phiri (my church minister and clerk of Midlands East Presbytery) and Rev S Kabaghe (the General Secretary) as we look at the way forward for ECD in Midlands East Presbytery. We had a really good discussion and the Presbytery really want to support ECD which is great!
The two schools I am working with are doing quite well with the limited knowledge of the teachers. I am having another workshop with the teachers in December for a week during their school holidays. We will focus on Pre-maths and Pre-literacy which will be interesting!
On the outskirts of Lusaka we have an elephant orphanage which I think I have mentioned before! I went for a visit one Saturday morning as I love to watch these young elephants. Right now there are 5, but when I was there one was in intensive care as he had only been brought in a couple of weeks previously and was quite ill. I hear he is now out with the other four which is good news. The keepers bring feed the elephants every four hours so its a full time job. The elephants are kept until they are about 3 years in this facility and are then moved to Kafue national park where they have a rehabilitation facility – its takes about 15 years before an elephant can go back into the wild and hopefully will be accepted by another herd. Most of these baby elephants are in this facility due to their mothers being poached! The rangers do an amazing job.
Thankfully I have had no more snakes in the house but there is always some sort of wildlife around. Here is a gecko, a Blue Waxbill and an interesting bug….
Yesterday was the farewell service for Rev and Mrs Joseph Chilenje who are leaving Chilenje congregation to go to Kalulushi in the Copperbelt area. Rev Chilenje was a great support to me in ECD and I will miss him and his family in Lusaka but I know he will do a good job in Kalulushi!
There was a lot of singing and dancing and gift giving as people said farewell. In the picture below you can see members of the Presbytery coming to say bye! I also had my turn to dance and give a gift (thankfully there are no photos of that!)
So, I come to the end of another blog. I have been suffering from rotator cuff in my left shoulder for the past 6 weeks or so. Its really painful and even with exercises, physiotherapy and medication it has not improved much. I would appreciate your prayers!
From some of the children of Chilenje ECD…bye for now..and for those of you using the Youth and Children’s project information from PCI for the 2017/2018 year…you can see our featured child Bessy, third from the right in the front!
Its been really hot this last month in Zambia which of course means its really dry and dusty too! While I love the hot weather, there were some days that it was too hot even for me and the heat just zaps your energy levels.
Many frustrations also going on – went to pay my car insurance with my credit card and the machine said the transaction was not authorised, twice! So I called my bank who said there was no problem. I went back to the insurance and was told to go to another branch and see if it worked there. Now bear in mind, traffic in Lusaka is a nightmare and it was almost lunchtime so it took me almost an hour to get to the next branch! I paid successfully and after the three hours that it took, went merrily on my way back to work.
A few days later, I checked my bank statement and all was not so merry as I had been debited 3 times for the transaction! So, off I went to the insurance and the lady told me I had to contact my bank and they would sort it for me. I told her nicely that as they had debited my account, it was up to them to credit me again for the money taken. She said she would look into it. I went back the following day and was told they were dealing with it. This went on for almost 2 weeks and I was getting really anxious as it was a lot of money. So I decided to go to the head office. I met the assistant manager who knew nothing about it – neither did the accounts department! Eventually, one of the accounts people got it sorted out for me a couple of days later!
The moral of the story is…..patience is really necessary to work in this country!!! I am thankful that all the money was repaid to my account after much prayer and worry!!
Schools are going on better this term with all the teachers following their termly plan and themes.
Its challenging getting teachers to think about preparing in advance for anything, but I keep pushing them. Keeping materials clean is a challenge especially when there is no water. One of our schools, Chilenje, had no water for about 4 days and children had to go home. I went and bought two large drums to store water so when water comes they fill the drums and then use it when there is no water. This has helped a lot. In both schools, Chilenje and Kabwata, I am giving teachers assignments to see if they can understand the theory that they have learnt in practise in the schools. Its interesting to see how they write and copy exactly word for word from the reference materials!! This of course comes from the rote learning system that is in schools here – where children are almost spoon fed and don’t have to investigate or think things through for themselves. So, teaching the teachers is a slow process but I hope some will eventually understand why we play with children.
I am excited because I will be going to Livingstone mid November to train teachers for two new ECD centres that we hope will open in January when the new school year begins. One school is in Livingstone itself (home of Victoria falls), and the other in Monze so teachers will all come to Livingstone for a week of training and preparation. I will also have one day of training with the committee from the school in Livingstone.
I had some annual leave in October and went for 2 days to my favourite place in Zambia – South Luangwa national park. It was extremely hot and dry (over 40 degrees every day). Because of the heat and the scarcity of water (the Luangwa river is almost dry), the animal population stayed in the shade a lot of the time. I did have some wonderful sightings though and am so thankful to be able to have the opportunity to see these amazing animals in their natural habitat.
I arrived home from South Luangwa and the following day we had our first real rains in Lusaka – heavy rain one day and the next it rained steadily all day. I love the smell of the first rains here. So….the evening of the first rain, I had a visitor in my kitchen – a lovely brown snake! I didn’t quite know what to do with it so I called a friend who calmly looked at it and said it wasn’t dangerous. He picked it up by the tail, and it became very feisty and tried to bite him, but he calmly put it into a plastic bag and took it away to relocate it in a bushy area.
This morning I got up, went into the kitchen and quickly checked the floor to find another creature behind the leg of a table! I looked at it and it seemed to be like a small turtle or something. I got a stick and gave it a poke and it puffed up into a ball – it was a puffer frog. I have never had a puffer frog in my house before and on investigation found that it is called a Mozambique rain frog.
So lots of animals both in the bush and in my home!
I am still on leave this coming week so looking forward to just relaxing and doing some things around the house! We have lots of rain these days and yet no water in the taps but I am thankful for storage barrels (which came with me in 1995 to Malawi and I still use them for water)!
October 18th was a public holiday here as its a day of National prayer in Zambia. October 24th was also Independence day which I spent in the bush.
Thank you for all your prayers, your love and your support. Please do feel free to leave a message – its always good to get feedback!
I spent a week in Chipata as our GAC (General Administration Meeting) for CCAP, was being held there. So I left on 27th August with our General Secretary, Rev S Kabaghe. We arrived in Chipata mid afternoon and went to check the accommodation that had been booked for us. However, when we saw it, we declined and went to the backpackers where we had stayed last time we passed through Chipata. The venue for the meeting was actually in a Girl’s Secondary school an hours drive into the bush (literally)! On Monday we went to check the venue and make sure everything was ready for the meeting. Tuesday was arrival day and at 12 noon I went to the Malawi border to pick up Rev J Wilson from the Presbyterian Church of Australia who was a guest at the meeting. Took him back to his accommodation in Chipata and then headed out to the venue. So for the week, I travelled back and forth to Chipata each morning and evening (sometimes late in the evening) on an extremely challenging road even for an experienced driver…which I consider myself to be having driven so many years in Malawi!
Some of the girls were still at the school and on Wednesday morning they were being collected to go home. As you can see the cars were quite overloaded!!
Unfortunately during the registration my camera fell off a chair onto the cement floor and seems to be smashed! The insurance does not cover it as they say I was not watching it when this happened!! Now for those of you who know me, my camera is like an extra part of me – it goes wherever I go! So I am devastated and lost without it. However…such is life in Africa! There is no Nikon outlet in Zambia so I can’t even have it fixed, if indeed it is fixable! So photos on this blog will not be of the same quality as usual!
The main meeting began the next day and for three days there were discussions and deliberations about issues in the church. Each day for an hour there was a break and Rev Wilson did some teaching about leadership which was really good. We had good food – nshima and chicken or fish or meat with vegetables and beans! I did my ECD presentation on Friday evening and had a few questions but because I had given everyone a copy of the paper in advance, many people had already asked me questions before hand which was great!
Saturday, we made the return journey to Lusaka and unfortunately arrived just as the national Football team had won a match and people were getting out of the stadium – it took a long time to get through the jubilant crowds – they were singing and dancing and banging on vehicles – thankfully they didn’t climb on top of mine!! At Luangwa bridge, we stopped to buy some fish!
The following Monday I had a week of teacher training with teachers from 2 schools – Chilenje and Kabwata (6 teachers in all). Two of the teachers were new so I had to do a bit of a recap to help them to understand the basics. It was a good week – we did some theory but a lot of practical work – reading stories, presenting circle time to the children, making activities that children can do in their play areas! We had a lot of fun and teachers did a good job.
On Saturday I woke up feeling dizzy and this continued over the weekend! I realise it is exhaustion as I have not stopped in 3 weeks! However as the new term is beginning I need to make sure that schools are doing okay so no rest this week either! I will be mainly at Kabwata this term as last term I spent with Chilenje. Both schools began well which was good because on Tuesday I got a bout of food poisoning and was grounded for 2 days! Maybe this was God’s way of saying – have a rest!!!
Kabwata nursery school had absolutely no play materials so it will take time to collect some things for them!
Am feeling much better now and much more rested too! So that’s all for now. I value your prayer especially for driving in Lusaka and for patience. I get frustrated when the traffic holds me up and I am late for things!
Please pray that I might find a way to replace my camera or fix my camera whichever it needs to be.
Hello all, I began writing this a few weeks ago…. Its a long post but the majority is photos!
I know that in some parts of the world its summer time, with long daylight hours! Here in Zambia, its coming into winter – we have dry cool days but still plenty of sunshine! It has been a long time since I updated my blog! In all honesty, I just did not have the motivation to update it. I have been struggling with quite a few things in a the past months and its only now on this lovely winter day, that I feel inclined to update you on my happenings!!
For those of you who know me, you will know that I love the bush, I love the wild animals, I love spending time in villages and finding out about how people live. So for the past year, I have been living and working in Lusaka, a large city – its a nice city, but I miss the rural life. I stay in a nice house surrounded by a wall and electric fence. I don’t really know my neighbours because we all live behind walls and fences! I say hello when I meet them but that is as far as it goes! I miss having nice places to walk – the only walks I can really do here are around the streets, unless I leave the city. I have been finding this quite difficult to cope with and so went through a rough couple of months.
I took time out and went to Cape Town for a week, had a lovely time of walking and sight seeing, and also survived a mega storm – unfortunately on my last day there it was raining heavily and I fell down a flight of steps outside the apartment where I was staying! I ended up in casualty! Thankfully no bones broken but lots of external and internal bruising! I was really sore for about a month – even yet my right arm is still swollen internally and gives me pain! So much for the restful holiday!
Anyway, it gave me time to think and reflect on much that has happened this past year. I have been frustrated many times but yet I still felt I was in the right place and that God was speaking to me through my frustrations.
The past few weeks have been better maybe because the Moderator from PCI, Rev Dr Noble McNeely and his wife Florence came to visit CCAP and they both encouraged me a lot.
Its 6 months since my last update! In early childhood a lot has been happening in terms of planning but it seems to me that there is not much progress on the ground yet. Gradually I will get there! During the last school term after much discussion with the Synod officials, I decided to focus on one school called Chilenje. I have been helping the teachers (even though they keep changing) and gradually we have a more play based learning programme. Parents were very sceptical at first but I am pleased to say that they are much more supportive now that they see their children are really enjoying school, and also learning a lot too!
So just to bring you up to date on the past month really. I had the privilege of hosting Rev Dr Noble McNeely and his wife Florence for 10 days in Zambia! On the day they arrived the YAV’s – Young Adult Volunteers from PCUSA were leaving. I will miss them. Susannah was working at our nursery school in Chilenje and the teachers and children will miss her very much! It was great to get to know them and I know that God has a lot in store for them as they decide what the next step is! Here they are, Kim, Olivia, Susannah and John!
It was a very busy trip with a lot of driving for me, and lots of new experiences for them! We spent the first morning in Lusaka and then drove to Chipata. We had a day and a half in South Luangwa game reserve before proceeding to Lundazi. Lundazi is where CCAP began in Zambia after it broke away from CCAP Synod of Livingstonia in Malawi (where I used to work). In 1984, CCAP Synod of Zambia was constituted as a Synod so it is a very young church in Zambia. If you want to read more look up the Synod website which is found at www.ccapzambia.org.
Noble and Florence were welcomed as we came into the town of Lundazi by a group of people from CCAP. They walked in front of our vehicle singing and carrying a banner until we reached the church. Then, there was a small welcome ceremony for the visitors!
On Sunday, Noble was invited to preach and the church was packed to overflowing! Of course, the highlight of the service was reading a letter out from Rev David McConaghy who was a minister in Lundazi from 1965 to 1971 and was serving with PCI. The church then wrote a letter back to Rev McConaghy! It was a special time as some people remembered both the McConaghy’s and their work.
In good Zambian tradition, both Noble and Florence were presented with Zambian outfits (which they had to put on in the service!).
We travelled about an hour out of Lundazi to visit Chasefu Theological College, which is really in the bush! No electricity or running water! I wonder how Theological students in the west would cope!
It is always good for me to meet Rev David Chiboboka who is the college principal. He was a lecturer at Zomba Theological College when I was there more than 10 years ago!
We visited a primary and secondary school in Lundazi and then Kachere community school on our way back to Chipata. We also visited a couple of health centres which are run by the church.
On the last day, we reached Lusaka mid afternoon and were invited to meet Seamus O’Grady, the Irish Ambassador to Zambia. I had met him on St Patricks day at the Irish Celebration here! We are accompanied by the General Secretary for CCAP Synod of Zambia, Rev S Kabaghe.
It was a busy time and I was glad that Noble and Florence were able to spend a day in South Luangwa (one of my favourite places)! We saw quite a few animals. Here are a few of my photos in black and white for a change! My favourite as always is the Leopard!
As were were coming home from Chipata, we fancied a snack (after all it is a 7-8 hour journey)! There were no takers!
As I said, I feel that things at work have been quite slow and yet I know there has been a lot of progress. I have been teaching the teachers, and working with them practically in Chilenje CCAP and have seen a lot of progress. During this school holiday (which ends on 11th September), I have already had a seminar with the ECD Committees of two schools – Chilenje and Kachere. Our committees have people from the church, parents and a teacher represented, to try and involve everyone in the running of the schools. I would like to try and help them to become model schools so that other teachers can learn from them. The week after next I will be having a full week of training with the teachers from both schools, and I hope that as the new term begins they will be full of energy and want to help the children.
As much as possible, we want these nursery schools to be sustainable and so are trying to use as many locally available materials as we can. You can see the child below threading with a piece of wood that fell of a tree at my home! I sawed it in pieces and sanded it!
This child is matching the colours of the cars to the pictures!
This is Bessy who features on the Sunday School project for 2017/18. She is really concentrating using her scissors!
Lining up to wash hands before snack time!
Below the child is attempting to write and making a good job of it too!
I made the parachute below and the alphabet letters with sandpaper, and the kids really enjoy both of them!
So, its been a few months of highs and lows, of bruises and healing, and of reflection! I have been here just over a year and I hope with the beginning of the third school term of this year that I will see much progress.
I am grateful for friends and visitors who have come!
Usually there is quite a lot of bird life around my house, but I have been surprised a couple of times now when something big lands on my tin roof and I go out and find this peahen! She is enormous and I am always worried that she will not be able to clear the electric fence!!
Next week from 29th August, 2017 is our annual Church meeting (similar to the General Assembly). This year it is in Chipata and so I will be travelling there to present my report on Early Childhood Development. I would value your prayers both for the meeting and for safe travels on the roads of Zambia.
I am encouraged by the support I receive from Zambia Synod – I am encouraged by the interest in Early Childhood, and by how people really want to do something to help the young children. I know that I am here for a reason and that God is guiding me every step of the way.
Thank you also for your prayers and support. I will try to update more often in the future!
Gosh, I can hardly believe its almost February – I had written a post in December but never actually posted it, so just decided to start again! I have had a busy few months in some ways and yet sometimes I feel as if I don’t have enough to do! I have learnt a lot about the education system in Zambia, and in fact a a lot about Zambia itself!
I will just give a run down of what I have been up to! I had a chance of visiting all the community schools in the Lusaka education district except one(because it was closed!). I suppose I was not surprised with what I found and yet there was an element of shock at the amount of rote learning which was happening in the early years classrooms! Perhaps the biggest issue I had was finding children writing exams!! Yes, 3 to 6 year olds writing exams! I was horrified by this and let the teachers know! However, I cannot blame the teachers – most of them have no early years training as I found out when I had a workshop in December with them. Even the few who had been trained and held a Diploma, had really no idea of early childhood development which was quite worrying! As you can see from the photos below, its very much teacher centred learning and yet this is nursery school with kids from 3-6 years!
The workshop was good for me to get to know the teachers individually and to learn what they did at their schools, and why. Some of them are part of Community Primary Schools, while others are nursery schools on their own! I hope the workshop at least gave them basic knowledge and helped them to understand that play is a useful tool in teaching young children! It will take a while for a change of mindset but at least I have sown a seed!
Another exciting thing that happened was my induction service at Mtendere CCAP where I worship. Mtendere is one of the compounds (townships) in Lusaka and is very congested. Just before my induction we had a lot of rains and the road was impassable, so we had to abandon the vehicle and walk through the mud to get to the church! The induction was held by the Synod and there were people there from the Synod as well as some of the Presbyteries nearby. I was very blessed by the preaching from Rev G Nyirenda who talked about unity and working together. I had to sign a document and then there was gift giving! I have to say I was extremely humbled by this experience. I received so many gifts, it was embarrassing! Some of the gifts include chitenge (cloth), dresses, crosses with Bible verses on them, dinner sets, a Zambian clock, jug and glasses, and many others! I managed to do a speech in Nyanja which the General Secretary said was a good speech, but the accent was a bit off!!!
I spent Christmas in Lusaka with an Irish friend. I went to church on Christmas day and we went out for lunch, where we had turkey but not like it would have been in Ireland – no sprouts to be seen! Was a good day though!
I have done some travelling too. In December I went to Livingstone with the General Secretary where I met the Presbytery members to do a seminar on Early Childhood Development. It was nice to go back to Livingstone – I think the last time I was there was in 1996 when I went on the bus to Zimbabwe from Zomba, and went to Victoria Falls! We visited the falls which were completely dry which was a shock! However, recent photos show that there is much water now because of all the rains we have been having.
Unfortunatley on the way back from Livingstone in the evening we were involved in a car accident. No one was hurt, but my car was badly damaged from behind. I was stationary in a line of traffic when a guy came up behind me and his small vehicle went in below my vehicle and it was badly damaged! So, while we had hoped to be home by 8pm, it was midnight by the time I got home, after spending some hours in a police station! Am happy to report that the vehicle was fixed by the insurance and is back on the road again! Am thankful to God that Rev Kabaghe was with me when this happened, as he was able to deal with the drunk people on the road, as well as the police!
At the beginning of January, I also travelled to Kitwe which is in the Copperbelt of Zambia (where the copper mines are). This time I went with the moderator and the General Secretary and we had a meeting with three Presbyteries together. I really enjoyed this meeting – there was a lot of interaction and questions, and I hope that gradually people will begin to understand that looking after young children properly is important!
Having come back from Kitwe, I had a lovely visit from my niece Molly, who studies in the US and was on holiday. We had a good week together even though it rained every single day -she never saw any sunshine! We went to visit the elephant orphanage at Lilayi where orphaned elephants (usually because their mothers have been poached), are looked after and then rehabilitated into Kafue National Park. There are three babies there at present and we had a nice time watching them feed and then play a little bit!
My plan for this term is to visit all the schools and discuss with the head teachers their vision for ECD in each school! I have been to three so far, and I intend to have meetings with parents at a later date, when the rains have calmed down. I went to the three schools the second week of term, and some children had not yet reported. One reason may have been the weather as we have had really heavy rains for the past few weeks and many of the compounds are badly flooded, in some there is also cholera due to large pools of stagnant water. So I have to wait until more children start coming to school, so that I can then ask all the parents to a meeting! I will also be spending a few days in each school, monitoring how the teacher teaches, and to practically give any help that I can. In the Easter holidays, I hope to have a few more days with the teachers to make materials for their centres!
I went to the Ministry of Education (after many tries) and met with a lady in Curriculum Development. I had hoped that she might give me some documents to assist as we plan our ECD programme! However, only after I asked, she gave me this small booklet! Apparently because we are not Government institutions we have to pay to have the documents printed!!
Lovely surprise this last week – I received some Christmas cards! Thank you so much to those of you who sent me cards and letters, I really appreciate it! I am sure there are more in the Post Office but they just haven’t reached my box yet…maybe by Easter…or maybe never!!
So this is a brief outline of what I have been up to! I will try and update the blog once a month at least, so that I don’t have too much to put on at once! I am enjoying my work and am blessed to have lovely people to work with. I know its late but I wish you all a very happy and peaceful 2017! Thank you for your prayers and support!
Such a lot seems to have happened in such a short time! On 24th October I set off on a road trip to Muyombe in Eastern Province with Rev Dr V Chilenje, Rev J Zimba, Nancy Collins, and Dr Karl Klontz. The reason for the trip was that the Synod were installing solar panels on two schools. I went so that I could see some more of Zambia and also to find out if there were any ECD centres in this rural location! It was quite a trip! The journey to Muyombe took 18 hours – we left Lusaka at 6 hours and arrived in Muyombe at midnight! We travelled 1080kms but the last 165 kms was the worst! It was dark, the road was terrible – we had to make a few turns, but eventually we arrived in Muyombe, exhausted! The surprising thing was that the minister there had arranged for us to stay in a lodge with running water and powered by solar lights! This was something we were not expecting in such a rural community! I was actually just across the border from Chitipa district in Northern Malawi!
After a good nights sleep, we set off to the first school in the morning – Vilulu CCAP Primary School. It is in a beautiful location but it was very hot. The guys set to work and by 5pm they had the solar panels installed! Of course, they were assisted by some of the school children and teachers. I had fun with some of the children, and especially one little boy who wanted to talk with me all the time!
The next day we set off to Khuyu CCAP Primary school which again was set in a beautiful location! Such a surprise for all of us when we found a nursery school in operation at the school. I had a wonderful morning with the teacher and the children! The teacher had a diploma in Early Childhood Development and it showed, although the children were in a very small space with the usual desks and chairs, and there was a lot of rote learning! However, we did do some games outside which was good! I am hoping that when I work in the Presbytery the school is under, that I will have a chance to spend some time with this teacher. Of course he is a volunteer as the school does not have money to pay him and he is not on the official Government pay roll. However, the head teacher felt that ECD was vital for young children before they reach grade one, and so he was determined so begin even with a volunteer (and the teacher is from the village so he knows all the children too). It was in a rural village so there were a lot of pigs and chickens running around. As I was in the class, I looked across the village to find a very small boy chasing a pig at full pelt – I was wishing I had a video camera at hand, it was hilarious! I doubt if he ever caught the pig!
While I was with the nursery school, the solar panels were being put on a teachers house, and by 16 hours it was completely finished!
This gave us ample time to stock up on water, have supper and get to bed early as we were leaving at 3am the following morning to get to Lundazi!
We set off as planned at 3am, and we were glad we did – the road was horrendous once more! It took us through Vwaza marsh in Northern Malawi (not far from where i used to live). Vwaza is known for its tsetse fly (which cause sleeping sickness). I am allergic to tsetse fly so I was a bit nervous as we entered the game reserve and very soon all the flies began to swarm round the car. All windows were closed and yet they still managed to get in and of course I was bitten (as were three others). When we stopped at the gate, the guy wanted the driver to go and sign his log book, but we refused because there were so many flies and eventually he passed the book through the small space in the window! I was thankful to get out of the reserve – I think we had four hours being pestered by tsetse fly!
We reached Lundazi and booked into our lodge for the next few days. Originally we had planned to be four days in Muyombe but due to a family funeral one of our party had to go to the funeral in Lundazi. While in Lundazi, I was able to spend time with the Education Secretary, Rev N Mkwayi, to discuss the nursery schools which attached to some of the primary schools in the Synod.
The main reason for us passing through Lundazi was to attend the induction of two Mission Co-workers from the Presbyterian Church in USA (PCUSA). They arrived a few months before me and Charles is an agricultural specialist, while Melissa will be working with the Health Department of the Synod. It was good to see them again (I had met them a couple of times previously in Lusaka). The interesting thing from the PCI perspective is that they worship in the David McConaghy CCAP church in Lundazi. Rev David McConaghy was a PCI missionary from 1963-1971 in Malawi and Zambia, and the congregation in Lundazi is named after him! Mind you there are some amazing spellings of the word McConaghy, and some amazing pronunciations too! It is amazing to think that some 50 years later, I am working with the same synod, and they are very proud of their Irish heritage!!
On Sunday 30th October, we had the induction of the Johnson’s and I was the photographer and videographer! Not that I have much experience with a video camera and the sun was so bright, it was a case of point and shoot and hope that the camera is on, because I couldn’t see the red button! It was a colourful service, held outside and there were many people there as you can see from the pictures! Lundazi is a lovely place, I was expecting somewhere smaller and more rural, so it was quite a surprise.
I also had a chance to visit Chasefu theological College where Rev David Chiboboka is the principal! Rev Chiboboka worked with me in Zomba as a lecturer, so we were reminiscing about old times!! The Theological College is very rural with only a few students, but I was shown around and had a good chat with some of the students from Zimbabwe, Malawi and of course from Zambia! Not sure how students from the west would manage here, no radio, no tv, no internet…….at least ample time for study!!
Monday morning, a week after leaving Lusaka, we headed back to the city and reached there late afternoon. It was an interesting trip and gave me some food for thought as I work with the church here in Zambia!
I had been planning meeting with ministers in the Presbyteries to sensitise them in ECD (a similar seminar to the one I used to do in Malawi), and the first one was held on 5th November in Lusaka with two Presbyteries, Midlands and Midlands East. Minsters and session clerks from each congregation were invited, as well as ministers serving in other capacities in Lusaka – the Youth Pastor and the General Secretary.
I have also been visiting one of the schools near to my home where a PCUSA volunteer is based. Chilenje is a small urban congregation and they have a small nursery school – of course the teachers were doing rote learning, but gradually after spending a few afternoons with them, they are beginning to realise that children could perhaps learn in a different way! They have been collecting and using some locally available materials (rubbish) which is great. I am encouraged by the level of education of these two volunteer teachers, even though they have had no formal ECD training but are so willing and eager to learn.
So that is really how the past month went by! I am planning to do another Presbytery sensitization in Livingstone (beside Victoria Falls) on 10th December. Don’t expect amazing pictures from the falls because they are basically dry due to the drought!! I am going to visit all the schools in Lusaka this week, with the aim of finding out how many teachers we have and to see if I can meet them for training during the Christmas holidays! So work has really begun!
I am also trying to assist in sunday school in my local congregation! It is a challenge and children are not put into groupings but old and young are all together!
Its also been nice to get to know someone else from Northern Ireland – Melissa is working in a primary school on the other side of town, but sometimes she comes to church with me. This was last week when she was being introduced to the congregation!
On the home front, I am waiting for mosquito nets to be put on my windows (to keep out mosquitos, other bugs and even snakes), and also burglar bars have been made and will be put on soon. Today we had heavy rain and unfortunately it was also raining inside my bathroom, so I need to get the landlord to repair the roof! It has been really hot of late, so after the rains today, the temperature has come down a little bit which is nice! Electricity continues to be off 8 hours each day, and water is sporadic although it was on most of the day today, which probably means none tomorrow!!
Of course living in the city has its advantages too as there are many more things to do than I ever did in Malawi! I have been to the movies, I can eat out as often as I like if I want to, and last weekend I even went to the Zambia Arts and Design show! Living in Lusaka is expensive though so I do have to count my pennies (or kwacha)!
Thats all for now. I am glad you are reading my blog and do feel free to leave a comments!
Its hard to believe that I have been in Lusaka for six months already! Time went very slowly for the first few weeks and suddenly time is flying past! Of course it took me time to adjust to a new country even though it is the neighbour to Malawi which has been my home for the past 20 years!!
So, first of all I had to find a house and then have my ‘stuff’ which was in storage in Lilongwe (Malawi) transported to Lusaka! All quite straight forward you would have thought! Finding the house was not so difficult actually. The Synod really helped me and we were able to find a house relatively quickly to rent which was within our budget! It is painted bright yellow both inside and outside (must have been cheap paint I think).
So the house was found but getting my stuff from Malawi was another issue! Transport from Lilongwe was a challenge and eventually when we found transport I was told I needed a TPIN number from Zambia Revenue Authority. So I had to apply for that (on a Friday) and it takes three working days! Great, got that, found a clearing agent and thought it was all sorted! However, the clearing agent sent the documents to the Zimbabwe border instead of the Malawi border, and so the lorry was delayed for three more days while a search for the documents was carried out!.
Eventually on 28th June, I moved into my house! Now at this stage, I had a bed, a piano and a couple of chairs! I also had the cooker and my cooking utensils and books from Malawi! It was an exciting time. There were no curtains on the windows because there were no curtain rails! The next few weeks I set about putting up curtain rails, getting chairs and a table made, buying a fridge and a few other essential items! I made curtains and cushion covers for my chairs and framed pictures to put on the walls!
I am quite pleased with the result although its a work in progress! There have been quite a few challenging issues with the house – the plumbing had a lot of problems which had to be sorted, I had a fire in the kitchen when the geyser was switched on – thankfully I heard the bang and got to it before everything went on fire! We have had one day of heavy rain since I arrived and the roof is leaking badly, so that needs to be fixed before the ‘real rains’ come!
So, house sorted, then it was time to get a vehicle! I found a vehicle and the Synod here and PCI agreed that it would be fine. So money was to be transferred from Ireland to Zambia. Money was transferred, but it never arrived – weeks passed and no money and the bank in Ireland could not trace it! Thankfully a friend here knew someone in the said bank and eventually we found out that the money had gone to Zimbabwe – I suppose banks in Ireland don’t realise that Zimbabwe and Zambia are different countries! So….the money had to go back to Ireland and then come back to Zambia! I got the vehicle on 20 August! At least I know how to use the public transport of mini buses and taxis!
Meanwhile on 17th August, I started language study in CiNyanja – a similar language to the Chichewa spoken in central and southern Malawi but with many differences too! The first days I found a challenge as I didn’t get it and yet I understand some Chichewa! But after ten weeks, I gradually learned the Nyanja differences and we graduated on Friday and now the real test begins – using what I learnt in the field!! The class were so nice, from Kenya, Congo, India, South Korea and USA! We had a lot of fun and became good friends!
I am working for CCAP Synod of Zambia (a synod of the same CCAP I was working for in Malawi). The Synod made me very welcome in Zambia and I was so thankful to be able to stay in the home of one of PCUSA’s Mission Co-workers which I was waiting to move to my house! Nancy Collins was so gracious and hospitable and put up with me for a long time!
Synod officials came to my house for a morning of orientation and we discussed how we thought we could begin with Early Childhood Development. It was a day of laughter and fun as well as the serious business we were there for! I have been assigned to Mtendere CCAP where I am now a member and am helping with the Sunday School there! No doubt you will be hearing about it in due course!
In Zambia the beginning of August was quite a tense period on the run up to the Presidential elections! Thankfully in most places things were peaceful and President Edgar C Lungu was re-elected.
August 24th to 28th was our Synod meeting which was held in Lusaka. Rev Uel Marrs came from PCI to attend the meeting. I enjoyed the time I was able to attend and I gave a presentation on Early Childhood Development to the congregation which was well received! I am excited about working with this Synod!
At Synod elections we got new office bearers, so now the new General Secretary is Rev Sevatt Kabaghe who was a student at Zomba Theological College many years ago, and his wife was my student!! The Moderator is Rev Abel Banda, the Deputy General Secretary is Rev Daniel Tembo and the Moderator Elect is Rev Chunda! I am looking forward to working with this new team as we strive to build up Early Childhood in the church.
Many other things have happened of course – I opened a bank account, I learned how to pay water and electricity bills and to pay the rubbish man (to collect my rubbish once a week). I got a piano tuner to come and tune the piano – it hasn’t been tuned since I was in Zomba so sometime pre 2006! It took a lot of work as moths had eaten inside of it, but thankfully it sounds great now! Other things like doing my driving test to get a Zambian licence, paying car tax….all things that take time, and I am grateful that I was given time to do all these things!
So language classes have finished and I am now full time in my job! I will work from home as they Synod building is still under construction. I am heading off tomorrow on a week long trip to Muyombe which is in the Eastern Province of Zambia and actually just across the border from Malawi! I hope to find out about any nursery schools which are already existing and also to meet with the Education Secretary who is stationed in Lundazi.
It was great having my friend Maureen visit last weekend and we went to South Luangwa National Park – I had been there many times and every time is special! A few pictures of the amazing wildlife of Zambia!
As you can see I haven’t quite figured out how to do the pictures properly yet! Maybe next time will be better!!
Life in Lusaka is very different from Mzuzu! Its a big city but yet a very nice place, full of the colourful Jacaranda trees, and now the red flame trees are blossoming! However, there are many challenges and two of them are water and electricty! Due to a drought in Zambia last year the water table is low and so we are rationed to water for a few hours each day! Electricity is also a problem due to hydro power and so we have a schedule – I have four hours off each day, some places are much worse!
So for now, this is my new blog – am still setting it up so be patient, and as I will have no electricity for much of this week, it will be a work in progress! Please feel free to comment, and of course I value your prayers as I begin the job of setting up an early childhood programme for the church here!