We're back!!! AFRICA!
Love that gorgeous continent and the gorgeous and welcoming people we are fortunate to know there!
My daughter, Merrill, and I toured all of the borewell sites in central Zambia (missing two in the south of Zambia in Mubiana village). Tour is a mis-nomer...for it was a wild ride! Thank you Sylvester Mbaama and Paul Mandah, our partners in Zambia, for all the organization and joy you brought to us and (hopefully) to the villagers who we were privildged to meet!
Imagine long days in a jeep riding a slalom course through pot holes and dust, amid elephants, baobab trees and sky high grasses, giraffe, hippo, flocks of birds each so exqusite and unique - and us in our little vehicle, overflowing with folks we'd picked up along the track. Sunshine, smiles, wonder and delight.
At each village, we were warmly greeted by bunches of gorgeous children, all excited, all eager to get close and make a connection. Women trilled with their tongues and some shook some booty with singing and laughter! With utmost dignity and reverence, we met and exhanged formal greetings with their heinesses - Chief Calama, Chief Kalcumbi, Chief Nsedui, Chief Mujhamya, Chief Jmbe.
We observed pits of brown water amid the wetlands - open wells that were easily fouled by animals and debris. Women gathered water from hand-dug pits with "ropes" made of grasses tied together. As we watched, Joseph and his team set the drill bits and pipe deeper and deeper into the earth until the water was breached and out it flowed - pure, fresh, life-sustaining! Three wells sunk and the villagers will trim them out with brick and sand, planting gardens where fresh vegetables will grow if the elephants are so kind as to stay away!
It was such an honor to meet Mr. Isaac Banda, who directs activities for the various committees on the Mnkhanya Community Resources Board in Chief Mnkhanya's Chiefdom and to learn about the citizens who are working on so many community health and development efforts. It is a challenging time in Zambia - all are concerned to create a source of food as the nation has implemented a one year ban on hunting bush meat - and this is taking a toll on the protein needs of all. At the same time, we looked in horror at the snares that have been collected that would have killed the exquisite wildlife we admired all around us. And then following smoke, saw a dozen young boys scampering thru the smouldering ash and reaching into snake infested holes to collect mice to process and eat - fur and all. They had handfulls of them. Men are scarce - AIDS is rampant.
A chance meeting between Merrill and me on a flight to Kilimanjaro with a former member of the President of Zambia's cabinet has brought us into contack with Dr. Cheryl Mvula, Wildlife Conservation and Responsible Toursim Consultant with Tribal Voice Communication Ltd. We learned that the United Nations has just relased $2.5 million to Zambia for small scale economic development projects and we are working to link Isaac's visionary programs (poultry and agriculture) with Ms. Mvula. There is no cash to fuel/catalyst for any economic actvity so the meeting was a lucky and miraculous event! May it soon bear fruit for the communities! Sly and Paul will expertly facilitate the programs. Their administerial work is A+++. Check out the Sly Plaul FOundation on the WEB.
Yes - we spent days on the banks of the South Luangua River in our tent camp dreaming and absorbing the sounds and smells that are unique to the African bush. The smell of sweet earth and wood smoke, moist air and tree breath - unforgettable!
We give our love and greetings to all the people we met and will forever be grateful for their hospitality at
Malama Clinic Well
Twalo Village Well
Victory Community School Well
Chitunda Community School Well
Chivimba Village Well
Chimamile Village Well
Chiutilca Village Well
Mukhanja Village Well
Chipaza Village Well
Kudos to Life Giving Water - our NGO partner who with Richard Hachoose of Parsons, enables these well projects to go forward with generous financial and logistics support. Our days were long and glorious. Our memories are precious. Best of all was travelling with the most enlightened, expansive, loving and funny Merrill Elizabeth Warren. We had such a spectacular time just inhabiting one anothers' space for a month. It was simply a happy, happy time!
We are raising funds now for wells in Kamuzaza Village - Chief Mulehanja, Mukumpha Village - Chief Kakumbi, and Mukuli Village - Chef Nsefui.
Our funding needs are $5,000 per well and we need to add a few hundred dollars to each project to allow us to test for flouride content in the water or soil sampling before we drill as excess flouride in well water is adversely affecting children's bones and teeth. We saw no evidence of this at our well sites, but want to take precautions at each site in any case.
For all of you adventurers, we are going to Tanzania, near Oringa and the Ruaha national park - probably the best game vbiewing in all of Africa in the not too distant future to pick up a new drill rig and drive it down to Zambia through Malawi. If you want adventure - this is the utimate. Donate for a well and you are on the team!
Welcome home to us, love and xx to my partner and best travel pal, daughter, Merrill, and love to all the people of Zambia, Tanzania and Ethiopia.
Each segment of our trip was a distinctly different experience and each wondrous, magnificent, incredulous and description-defying - even for wordy me! Travel is a prividge and and joy. This would have the trip of a lifetime - but there are many more to come: both lifetimes and experiences!