Welcome to the Volunteer Blog. This is an area where any volunteers who have helped us can tell their stories about their experiences in Zambia and with the charity in general. It is in a forum type setup where you can see their names, their comments and the date they were made on. Hope you enjoy reading!

Author: Teresa Kelly
Title: Life in Zambia

Zambia has numerous towns and villages. There are also many isolated bush communities located long distances from any urban areas. Most dwellings are temporary structures constructed of walls made of mud and poles covered by a grass roof. These often need to be rebuilt each year.

The people are very poor and they have to work hard to survive. They generally live in subsistence farming communities and from year to year, the climate dictates how successful or otherwise their harvests are. Severe drought can have a devastating effect. So also can a rainy season which sees excessive rain wash the crops away. Despite the extreme poverty, the Zambian people are incredibly happy and they count their blessings at every opportunity. They are warm and friendly. They have a fantastic sense of rhythm and love of music. They love to sing and dance and all major celebrations are brought alive by their big smiles, colourful attire and wonderful harmonies.

People often have to travel long distances to collect river water and transport it home in containers balanced on their heads or on sleighs or using oxen. In very lucky and rare cases, they might be provided with a borehole and hand pump. The drilling of boreholes is very costly and can only be carried out by professionals using specialised equipment. The provision of boreholes is a very ambitious project with very limited funding available, and one which is likely to take many years to realise without the support of externally sourced funding.

Often there is no electricity. People tend to work by day and sleep when it gets dark. The only possible means of provision of electric lighting in isolated communities is by solar energy. This is a luxury rarely seen in Zambia!

Head men in communities often meet to plan community development activities. For example, a goat project was initiated in Zimba, a small town north of Livingstone. Five goats were provided by the diocese for each of 10 families. The families will own their 5 goats after they have increased their stock and given 20 goats to other families. The head men are responsible for monitoring the scheme and ensure that strict care guidelines are complied with. Women’s clubs meet to learn sewing, crafts and to socialise.

Local communities are hugely supportive when required to provide improved facilities. They are prepared to dig foundations, collect stones, sand and gravel. They also burn the bricks which will be used in the building project, a very labour-intensive affair. They provide unskilled labour free. However, building projects can only be completed by professional builders. Funding is also needed to purchase cement, windows, doors and roofing materials. The provision of many of the construction materials and of free labour represents an enormous saving in the case of community building projects. However, without the help of outside funding, projects often take many years to complete as they can only progress as funding becomes available.

HIV is a big problem in Zambia but the availability of medication is helping people to enjoy better quality and longer lives.

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