Monday, November 10, 2014

Journey to Lusaka Zambia- Volunteering with at risk children

My first day back at Kafwa
Watching the sunrise over the Sahara

Well after a full three days of traveling/ packing up my place in Vancouver to showing up in Lusaka Zambia I finally got there (I packed up my things because rent is very expensive in Vancouver (housing is overpriced more than anywhere in the world except Hong Kong, and I am not yet a very rich man ;).

I am going to go off on a tangent as I truly had a good time during the journey to Zambia. My parents selflessly  drove me to Belingham across the US border to catch a bus. After a great meal, they dropped me off and I am sure I heard my mom say “keep the change” as she drove away.

I met a girl sitting beside me on the bus who has been traveling all over the West Coast of the USA for over a year, and was finally on her way back home to somewhere outside of Las Vegas in the dessert. When I asked her why she traveled, she told me “she gets bored of doing the same thing for too long”, good answer!

I had a few hours in Seattle while waiting for my flight. I met up with a really amazing Couch Surfer (per-arranged online= CREEEEEPPPPYYYY :p) who picked me up from the Grey Hound, took me out for dinner, and dropped me off at the airport afterwards.  Again I can't advocate for how useful/ inspiring Couchsurfing can be, not just to stay with people but also to make friends (by this guy/ me having our profiles up on Couchsurfing we become automatic friends). The Couchsurfer is from the  state of New York, where he liked living in isolation in the woods somewhere. He is in Seattle studying his Masters (2nd one) in music for film. He gave me some good suggestions for listening to some classical music which I am trying to get into as a way to expand/ relax my mind more: his suggestion: -Aaron Copland- Appalachian Spring
Couchsurfer Josh

People lined up for a Method Man Concert

Just walking downtown, American marketing

We had Starbucks Coffee from the original Starbucks store in Seattle (the first one ever), which I must say the guys running it were hilarious, with the jokes I am sure they say a hundred times a day. One other interesting thing I noticed and heard from a lot of people is that there is a huge and growing homeless population in Seattle. I had to use the washroom before our drive out to the airport so I went into a Target  (not what you aim at, but the department store) in downtown Seattle, and two guys who were obviously not using the washroom had just shot up Heroin (they left their syringe in the washroom for my viewing pleasure). Imagine one of the richest men in the world (Bill Gates), as well as multi billion dollar companies such as Boeing and Amazon co-exist in the same city as homeless people. Imagine if we came up with solutions that got people off the streets, off hard drugs; how much we could accomplish and how many more billions in wealth we could create?
The original Starbucks, with the only manual espresso machine

I flew out of Seattle to Washington DC. From DC, to Addis Ababa, and then Addis to Lusaka. I barely slept, and when I did it was not comfortable as I was on an airplane. Addis Ababa, from looking out the window from the plane, does not look like a super appealing place to be, but I may be bias, as there are current warning from the government of terrorist threats from Al-Shabaab. There were a lot of high rise buildings, followed by a lot of houses, mainly from the looks of it with tin roofs. I am sure if I actually went and visited Ethiopia it would be an amazing country as I have heard and read about, as just observing some of the people in the plane were from there, they looked very interesting and unique and a part of the world I am yet to know about.
Getting on the plane to Ethiopia

 I met a girl on the flight from Addis to Lusaka, who was from Detroit, but scored a job after university living in London England, and who had the job of traveling three times a year for 15 days each to different parts of Africa to assess and report back about the economic conditions of countries investors are looking at. I am not a huge fan of the traditional “career”, but this job does sound sort of fun. She recommended the Ivory Coast as the country in Africa that is booming now due to a new government in place who is doing good things, and Zimbabwe as the country not to put your dollars into mainly because of the recent currency collapse (You can be a Trillionaire there for less than a 1 USD).

I arrived in Lusaka and got picked up by the family who I had volunteered with at their drop in center 5.5 years ago. They were quite excited (I like to hope anyways) to have me come back, and I finally got off my chest the fact that I had promised about 50 people in Lusaka that I would come back within 5-7 years.

Zambia is a very different country compared to where I am used to living, although I haven't really lived anywhere permanently in a very long time. It is a very poor country (meaning a large part of the population lives in compounds (slums), sharing one room shacks made of mud bricks, tin roofs, cardboard, etc. I took some pictures:
Toms- Shoes you by in the western world, and for every pair sold they donate a pair, to kids in poor areas who have little, like where I am teaching!

Happy to get new soccer balls (I have yet to see any "real" soccer balls in the compounds except with the school teams

The soccer field where me and the kids play soccer from 7am-9am every morning before it gets to 30+ degrees Celsius out

Over the first few days I met a lot of the kids who I used to teach last time I was here. Most of them are now 16+ years old. Unfortunately a lot of them are still in government school at young grades: grade 7/ 8 and they are now older (15-20), and a lot of them have children of their own. I am not going to comment on this right now, as I want to spend more time in Lusaka seeing everyone and what life is like more, and then I will comment as “you can learn a lot more from listening then you can from speaking”.
The Kafwa boys who I taught last time I was here and are now grown up. I took them out for a movie, for the two youngest, it was the first time they had been to a movie in their life, one of them even wore a suit for the occasion!

Morgan and Thomas who are now in government schools, I taught them at Kafwa when they were 10/11

The new kids at the center (the center has changed locations to a worst spot due to funding- It is now located in the slums in one room, and it gets very hot in the room and it is over crowded due to to many kids and not enough space) seem very happy and are very excited to have a foreigner come to hang out with them. They have pictures of me up around the classroom from last time I came to visit, so they knew of me, but had never met me as last time I was there they would have been very young. It is quite the experience so far being the only foreigner, and life is a lot more wild then it is in the west (garbage burns on the side of the road, people make houses out of anything from bricks to cardboard, everyone hangs outside a lot due to the hot weather and internet is not as readily available. My guess is that life in Lusaka Zambia is something like it would be in the 1950's in America, very religious, people spend lots of time with each other, school is strict/ kids are respectful, people have very high values and are very respectful....  
Kafwa's classroom (thank you everyone for the donations, I will use them for the school throughout my two months here)

Bush meat- Impala

Wild boar (which I ate and learned to cook last night)- Boil and then fry

The president of Zambia recently passed away and everyone in the country seems to love him. The funeral is tomorrow (November. 11Th, 2014). This president apparently did  a lot infrastructure wise for the country, and was not corrupt according to the people.

I am glad to be back as I consider this country and people to be my second home, and its good to be back at KAFWA playing soccer in the mornings with the kids and teaching English and other things to them in the afternoon.
caterpillar- crunchy protein

making houses at school, when this kid smiles you cannot be sad

He wanted to see a picture of himself eating (his name is future)

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