Friday, November 28, 2008

Living Waters School

This week I visited Living Waters School in Mtendere with Megan, our community schools worker for Action Zambia. It is run by the church and the children there are generally getting a good education. The school year here in Zambia runs from January to December with three months in school and then one month off. So school for most kids, unless they are sitting exams, finishes for Christmas at the end of November. The photo shows them all lining up before classes start. Children in so many ways are the same wherever you go. They are joking, shoving each other, waving shyly at me and Megan and quickly paying attention if the teacher spots them trying to goof off! On this particular occasion we were there as school starts and the sight outside the gates was a sad one. On either side of the 'road' leading to the school/church there are a number of bars and despite limited opening hours they are pretty much open all the time. Some of the men outside them were obviously somewhat the worse for wear even though it was 8.15 in the morning! I had to be careful to take photos surreptitiously! Beer here is sold in cartons, just like milk cartons back home. The road is muddy as rainy season has started and it was strewn with discarded cartons. Probably not the sort of environment you would like your kid's school to be in but we are thankful that the teachers at this school are committed to God, and to the children, so despite the surroundings, the kids here are getting a great opportunity.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Puppies Return!

Yes the puppies have returned! Well not all eight of them but the first two that left us have now been back for a couple of weeks. Their new owners had a trip back to the States for a month and asked us if we could look after them. We weren't sure if it would work out. We had the feeling that dogs don't welcome their offspring back in quite the same way as us humans do! But after some initial growling and sniffing things have been going well. Chisomo, the mum, made it very clear who is the boss - she is! Coco wasn't quite sure about sharing cuddle time with these new arrivals (for a huge dog he is the biggest softie!) but they are all getting along very well now and it is fun to have them all here, especially as Coco likes to play a lot so he has playmates for a while. The two pups left our place as Cutie Pie and Fluffy but thankfully were re-named as Buster and Brown. Much more appropriate for two puppies that are going to be as big as their dad ie probably at least 80lbs once they are a year old! So here are some photos so you can see h0w much they have changed from two little mainly black fluff balls at six weeks old to the handsome four and a half month olds that they are now (Buster is the paler one).

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Election Fever

It has been virtually impossible to miss the huge change on the American political landscape as the intense debate and media coverage culminated in victory for Democrat Barack Obama this week.
Zambia has also just emerged from election fever. President Levy Mwanawasa died on August 19th and elections to replace him took place one week ago on October 30th. The electioneering was just as intense. A huge difference to what we are used to was the element of tribalism, particularly in the rural areas where many will vote according to the direction that their tribal Chief gives. There were four contenders but the main two were Rupiah Banda who had been acting President since Mwanawasa's death and Michael Sata. The former represents MMD -
Movement for Multiparty Democracy - the party that has been in power since 1991, standing for economic continuity and stability for foreign investors. However, the charges of corruption during Banda's time as vice-president and as he campaigned have been widespread. His closest opponent, Sata, stood for the poor and is hugely popular among the underprivileged population here in Lusaka. He is often accused of being hot-headed and speaking before thinking. So election day came and it was very quiet. The day was declared a public holiday to give everyone the chance to vote and the quietness continued throughout the weekend. Rumours abounded as to possible danger, especially if Sata lost - that machetes were impossible to buy as they had all been purchased and that the army was going to be out on the streets. In the end peace generally ruled other than a few isolated incidents. Sata had the lead until Saturday night when Banda took it and never looked back. The claims of corruption continue and Banda was certainly inaugurated with great speed, just two hours after the final total was announced. As always in politics it is impossible to know the true story but Banda will be president now until 2011 and then who knows what will happen then. If you want to keep up with Zambian politics, check out - a great window into what is going on here.
As for elections, I'll let Rachel have the last word. After dinner tonight she looked over her dad's shoulder as he read the BBC and said 'Oh, is Obama in the lead' - so there was one person who didn't know the result.....