4/12/2015

Site Placement

Peace Corps Zambia
As I'd hoped, since learning about Brad's site at fly in, I'm going to be replacing him. I'll be living with the Chewa, in Kalichelo Village, about thirty kilometers on the tarmac from Chipata and another 10 km down a dirt road. My house is a stone's throw away from my gracious host, Lackson Ngoma. He, his wife, Avon, and their eight children are really my only neighbors, besides the swine, cattle, goats, and poultry that also inhabit the family farm. The site is incredibly beautiful and about a ten minute walk from the village proper.

The only issue I foresee, both at home and for my service, is water. The rainy season hasn't been all that, well, rainy, for the past three years, and this year has been particularly dry. Unless a farmer is extremely committed and diligent, a rarity in subsistence farming, Zambian culture, I don't believe aquaculture will be all too viable, in my area. One such outlier though is my counterpart, Paul Phiri. In the future, I will probably have an entire post simply entitled "Paul." He's amazing.

At the moment, I am tempted to list all of the mindblowing attributes about the man: he cooks, he knows how much revenue a crop will yield, he finished grade 12 at the age of 18. I could go on and on. Yet, nine weeks ago, I don't think I could have fully grasped the magnitude of even those three claims. I guess that is why I am here, living this way, to gain such insight, but when I had a man sitting across from me who's intelligent enough to be a PhD in horticulture or an executive at the ag company that supplies him his seeds, the totality of culture really hit me in an entirely new way, to the point where I had to ask him, "Why are you here?"

And the answer was 22. Paul is the bread winner, well nshima winner, for twenty-two other people. His own words, he has "a nuclear family of five," but between his mother, nieces, nephews, and a multitude of others, he has twenty-two mouths to feed. And so, he farms and works free-lance with NGO's, with the time he has to spare. Some things are universal, I suppose. Social work doesn't pay well, no matter where you are.

Other than agricultural projects, I do expect that I will be working with the school quite a bit. They just added computer literacy to the grade 9 testing curriculum, this year, so I've been brainstorming some ways of helping, in a sustainable manner. Also, Lackson's brother is the town carpender, and he does a lot of work for the school. The reason I mention this latter fact is that technicaly I'm not suppose to be doing any work, my first three months at site, (May, June, and July) during the Community Entry period. Thus, I can't file for grants, until August.

I can use my woodworking skills to build a table in May, but it won't be able to hold a video projector, so all 100 children in the classroom can actually see what the desktop of a computer looks like, until September, at the earliest. Their exams are in November.

As resentful as I may sound about these hamstrings, I do actually appreciate them, to some degree. The idea I have now, to use the same projector in school to generate income within the community, sounds great, but I was literally there for three days. We'll see if I still think it's a good idea, after three months.

My fellow Nyanja's have been placed as follows: Brain will be about 100km north of me, in Lundazi, Melissa 50km south, in Sinda, and Jonathan another 20km further south, in Petauke.

Find out how to join the Peace Corps!


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Location: Chipata, Zambia

2 comments:

  1. Great update son. Thanks. I hope you get more water and get a chance to teach too. Miss you.

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  2. Hello, Everett! You didn't come across as bitter at all, you are merely reporting the reality of the situation. A great update - I appreciate the effort that you put into these updates, as I am interested in what you are doing and, despite being an old dog like your Dad, I enjoy learning new tricks! I look forward to following your adventures and am proud of you. Your senses of adventure and service are commendable, and your selection of the Peace Corps as a solution to both desires is brilliant! Stay healthy and safe! John Purcell

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