Feb. 13, 2009

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. The shops downtown all have bright red clothing displayed in the windows — tops, skirts, trousers (don’t call them pants here – they’ll think you’re talking about underwear.)

The CIDA vehicle, checking on the health of Zambia's children.

The CIDA vehicle, checking on the health of Zambia's children.

Young men try to sell plastic roses to anyone parked with their car window open. It’s hot, but we quickly close the window again.

Yesterday we parked beside a nice SUV with the words CIDA – MOYA WA BANA PROJECT on the side. Two women came back carrying a bunch of bananas, and we talked a little. Moya wa Bana means Heart for Children. CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) is working with children’s health programs in Zambia. The two women were checking on the local health clinics, as they weighed children and advised on nutrition and other health issues.

“That vehicle belongs to me,” I boasted. “My taxes paid for that!”
The women broke into laughter, slapped my hand, and said, “Indeed!” Then, “you (Canadians) do a very good thing for us here.” They were thankful that CIDA is helping their children. It was good to see some of our tax dollars working so positively.

These children are playing a common African game. Usually it is played on a board with beads. The kids have adapted the game to sand and pebbles.

These children are playing a common African game. Usually it is played on a board with beads. The kids have adapted the game to sand and pebbles.

Kaputa sent us a text message: will we give him 1.5 million kwacha (approximately $375) to pay the next rent instalment? Rent here is paid six months in advance.

Our opinions are divided. Harold would like to give him the whole amount. We women feel we would be enabling him to keep pawning off of other people instead of taking responsibility himself for the needs of his family.

Robert is undecided. He says we have a comfortable, if tiny, apartment here; we’re safe, have everything we need.

Eugene, a white Zambian, gave us a recipe for happiness:

These two women look after the staff and student's children. Most institutes also run a preschool where children learn their numbers and letters.

These two women look after the staff and student's children. Most institutes also run a preschool where children learn their numbers and letters.

1.    Free your heart of hate
2.    Free your mind of worry
3.    Live simply
4.    Give more
5.    Expect less

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