An extract from Maria’s blog.
So I found my way to the community of Salesians sisters here in northern Zambian town, Kasama. I will week by week introduce this community to you, my friends, through my eyes, which are of course influenced by my previous experiences in Asia. However, I promise to be as impartial as possible.
The journey to Lusaka wasn’t the easiest one I’ve made. It took me whole 2 days from London. After a couple of hours in Dubai, and then many hours on the plane with 2 hours delay, I finally arrived in Johannesburg in South Africa. Here I watched beautiful storm passed by and amazing sunset while boarding the plane, final plane to my destination, Zambia.
When we were approaching Lusaka airport, I was amazed of the darkness outside compared to any other airport, this one was not lit so extensively and there was not many lights around. Once I got off the plane we were 10 minutes ahead of scheduled arrival, only a number of taxi drivers were waiting in the hall. It was nearly 9 o’clock and very dark outside and I started to be a bit afraid. Fortunately, two sisters were then coming towards me and all the worries were wiped out with their warm welcome and giggling smiles. We drove to the regional house in Lusaka where I took some rest. The next morning I was on my way to see the City of Hope, another Salesian sisters’ project with one volunteer from Czech Republic, Kristina, whom I gladly chatted about her exciting experience in Zambia.
Now, let me talk about some differences. I noticed that Zambians are very affectionate when greeting a person for the first time. The handshake is accompanied by two kisses on the cheeks. People here in the centre speak English fluently, even though accent is a bit strong. I had my first long trip from Lusaka to Kasama on the bus; it took us 12 hours to get to our destination. The roads seem to be alright, not too bumpy. This pleasantly surprised me.
Today, I had my first typical Zambian food. It was beans with rice and lots of vegetables. They also served some tiny mini fish from the lake. After fast dinner all of us watched the football match between Zambia and Libya. The African cup is taking place and I am very happy to be part of it. Each time the Zambian team scored, girls were happily dancing, clapping hands, just amazing to watch them expressing the support for their team. During the match one of the girls asked me if I like caterpillars. She offered to cook them for me tomorrow. I politely thanked her and asked her to wait with such specialities for another week. I know it will come one day, but I would like to get a bit stronger before.
The centre is big, with the secondary school with around 300 girls and many teachers. There is convent for girls, currently 10 girls are here. Then there is a boarding house for another 44 girls, all teenagers whom I am going to help with. It should be a good fun, however, as an English teacher I am not going to have a big work (unlike in rural India, people speak really good English here).
Today I attended a morning mass in the chapel, which is so peaceful with the beautiful carved African map is behind the altar and the Zambian borders are indicated there. The body of Christ is placed in the middle. The floor is of marble stone and cooling.
Later after breakfast, I received my timetable. Ach, it is a bit busy, but I cannot complain since I enjoy being busy. Still I have time to write these lines here and will have time to study as well as develop my English language skills. This is the copy of the timetable:
Timetable for a volunteer:
5:00- Rising up
6:20- Mass (Monday to Friday, 7:00 on Saturdays, 7:00 on Sundays, 6:30 walking with the girls to the parish church)
Monday to Friday:
10:00- Tea break
10:15- Assistance during break time with aspirants/postulates
10:40- Typing (or any other jobs)
14:00- Oratory (13:30 on Fridays- Sports at school) with aspirants/postulates
16.30- Tea break/shower
17:00- Assistance at the boarding during meals/washing dishes and preparation
18:00- Preparation until 20:30 (extra English classes)
19:00- 20:00- Dinner
20:30- Good night
21:00- switching off the lights
Saturday- free day (14.30- Sports)
Sunday- 10:30- Preparation
Video after lunch
I was shown around the Laura centre today and must say it is a big place. Girls were greeting me and they didn’t seem shy at all. Many of them study there, 400-500 pupils altogether from grade 8 up to 12. There are at least 40 girls in one class, they don’t lack desks and chairs though.
In the late morning, Sr Ireen took me to town. It is busy but small and lovely. I have not seen any tourists though. It would be very interesting to go there on my own as it is walking distance, I will indeed walk there. The prices in supermarket are high however; the same as in England or even more expensive depends on commodity.
For lunch I did something brave- I ate caterpillar. I considered very long whether to try it or now, my curiosity won over basic instincts and I crunched on it. It was deep fired, so tasted like some little snack, not too bad. I could however feel little legs in my throat and did not try to eat the second one. Next time I shall be alright eating plenty of them…