written February 15, 2006.
More time has passed.
I have been weeding my 200 x 3 meter field most of my waking hours. It is quite a bit of work and I am becoming quite strong and calloused.
This is the busy season for farming and most folks are in the fields from sunup to sundown. I have a great deal of respect for the manual labor that mostly women appear to do. I must say that people are surprised that a “white” can weed and do manual labor. People were expecting me to pass out or something or at least burn in the African sun, yet I just get darker and drink lots of water. This should change people’s perceptions of “whites” here.
The new school term has started, people are in the fields, and HIV work is slow. Mostly I am trying to network, form a coordinating body for HIV activities in my zone, learn Tonga, and try and aggregate and make sense of the copious amounts of data collected through the health services system.
I have finally started formal Tonga lessons with a teacher that is from the region where the original Tonga’s hail from. Apparently where I live is not where real Tonga’s are from, but rather where they have migrated. My understanding of what people are saying is increasing, as is my vocabulary. I plan on sitting for the Tonga exam given to grade 12 students in December and I want to receive passing marks.
Already rains this year appear better than last years. We have hope that the overall hunger here will be attenuated a bit.
My crop should be more maize than I can feasibly eat so I am looking into how it can benefit those in my community feeling the effects of HIV. I am also looking forward to making tamales and tortillas. That should trip people out.
On the public health side, there have been cholera outbreaks and some deaths near my district in the Kafue plains where the Kafue river runs. Some deaths due to bird flu have also been reported in northern Nigeria. I was in Thailand when it was breaking there. Everyone keeps poultry so has considerable ramifications as birds migrate down here.
Anyway, I’ll sign off for now.