Monday, December 17, 2007

Afrikan Adventure: Oh Tannenbaum

Well, well, here we are mid-December and still no sign of snow. I’m sure it won’t be long now before it comes. I usually spend my evenings sitting by the window wearing my toque and mittens on a string, clutching my “Crazy Carpet” waiting for it to come. But I usually get too sweaty and have to give up. Plus, this past week I’ve been reintroduced to the wonderful world of socialization as my friends, Stephanie and Susan, from down south are up visiting. It has been marvelous having people living with me other than the ants, cockroaches, spiders, and lizards...and nice that I don’t have to spray these guests with a Raid like agent.

This past week Susan found a 180cm, $20 Christmas tree at the store so she bought it. We brought it home and that evening embarked on assembling it. We soon realized why it was probably only $20 while all others around here seem to be much more. Turns out the bottom two pieces didn’t actually fit together as the “trunk” of the tree on both parts was exactly the same size making for quick improvisational tactics to get the tree standing. We tried several things involving sticks, branches and old plastic bags and finally after a treasure hunt around the yard in the dark found a piece of old piping which we used our MacGyver skills to contort into a perfect solution. So now we have our trusty Tannenbaum and a most excellent foam nativity scene sent to me in a package to adorn my humble abode in a Christmas fashion.

This past Saturday I had what will probably be on my list of favourite African memories. I took all the kids at Chisomo, the centre for street kids I have been working with, to this water park called Adventure City for a little Christmas party. There were 44 kids from the age of 10-18 and we had an awesome time. Christmas is a hard time for these youth as it such a family oriented time. It was awesome to see them able to just be kids, having a blast on the slides and doing crazy flips and dives into the pools. The safety standards are not quite what we are used to back home which makes for more fun as your allowed to do pretty much whatever you want on the slides like go down 15 at a time! My favourite was probably swimming with two little 11 year olds, Danny and Anna, and helping Anna conquer her fear of the slide and just trying to teach them how to swim. It breaks my heart that these kids are so young. Danny ran away from a family who was beating him and travelled 5 hours to Lusaka by himself and spent some time on the street until someone brought him to Chisomo. Anna was being sexual abused by her step-father and so followed her sister and ended up at the centre. And each one of these kids has a heart breaking story like this.

My involvement with them is like a catch twenty-two as the more time I spend with them the more I get attached to them and see relationships really beginning to grow and it kills me to think that I am going to have to say goodbye and leave them in a month and a half. My heart hurts just thinking about it. I am going to do an all-nighter with them in January before a lot of the kids who are being sponsored to go to boarding school go back, which will be like a last hurrah!

Action Zambia has recently rented a tiny office space in town so we can finally get our office out of a home so I’ve been putting time there painting and helping to get it ready to move into (not myself moving into…although that would cut down on transport time getting there). My idea of splatter painting in neon colours was not taken to like I was hoping. So instead I will secretly paint a delightful country mural with the art skills I learned from Bob Ross on PBS, complete with several “happy, little trees.”

Guitar teaching and bible study in Kasupe continues to go well. Peter, my guitar prodigy, is really catching on quick and a great youth so I’ve pretty much decided that I will give my guitar to him when I leave and hope that he can use his newly acquired skills to be a leader in the community and his church.

I also had a meeting with the Rural Health Committee this past week and we are hoping to do another day of giving out food and health supplies to really vulnerable families. This time of the year is when the food starts to run out as the crops are just being planted and won’t be ready for another couple months and last years supply has run out.

And that has been some of the highlights of December so far. I will be heading down to South Africa on Thursday to spend Christmas with friends from the team and their family who live there. I hope all the hustle ‘n’ bustle of the season hasn’t gotten the better of you and that are having a joyous noel. If you want to get away from said hustle just come here…there is certainly a lack of hustle in these parts! And remember the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear! Take care!!



“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

~Matthew 11:28-30

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