Friday, October 14, 2005

second month text

I am still well here in Zambia, enjoying life and learning lots.

Relish (beans, soy pieces, cabbage, collards/rape, meat, fish), or that which is eaten with nshima (stiff maize porridge), is difficult to find these days. Many cite a lac k of money, water, or a garden from which they may draw food. A consistent request from many living here is that they want a borehole/pump as water is difficult to find.

I survive by going to town for staples (peanut butter, ground maize, sugar, oil) and buying produce near my village. These are options for me since I have a source of income and no family which enables me to stretch out my food in a way others can’t. Since I have no family it takes me about a month to go through what others may finish in a few days.

The HIV/AIDS work is going well. I am helping my community form a community AIDS task force (CATF), which should allow more communication and learning among the various clubs and support groups here in Keemba zone. I am also assisting as an HIV/AIDS teacher outside my zone with colleagues in the field.

I am also finding that I spend a considerable amount of time in the nearby town (Monze) and the capital (Lusaka), as I update reports, find information, and network with those doing HIV work here in Zambia.. I think my travel may be a result of working in HIV and my assigned role as a liaison between my community, the Ministry of Health, and others doing HIV work here.

The travel may also be a reflection of the community in which I live, as there are daily multiple vehicles that go to Monze in the morning and return in the afternoon for those with business there. I may add that this is an option for those with money, but is an obstacle for many that live in the village, as the cost of transport may buy a weeks worth of maize for a family.

I may add that the relatively easy transport does not appear to be common among other Peace Corps sites nor does my relative proximity to the capital city (~6 hours from my hut doorstep to Lusaka). A colleague of mine said that the transport may reflect the past wealth of the area in terms of livestock and agriculture which has decreased due to both the current drought and HIV. Though this means my Peace Corps experience may be a bit “citified”, the easy transport may be assumed a comparatively higher HIV infection rate than other rural areas, making my presence worthwhile.

Other than that, I am preparing a small garden, building small things around the house, and preparing to plant for the rainy season (November-April). When I first arrived, the headman offered to give me land to farm, which I am taking him up on. I, with some agricultural experts, will hopefully plant a demonstration farm to show methods that may decrease water and fertilizer dependency.

We will see. It should be a learning experience all around.

I hope everyone is doing well.

love, niko.


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