Profit and loss in Zambia

This morning I opened the door and almost ran into a young man standing there.
“Hello, Madam.”
“Do I know you?”
No, I didn’t. He proceeded to tell me he was sick and had to go to his village for medicine, and needed help for transportation. He sat down on the step and pulled out a letter, stamped and signed by someone, saying that he was just out of the hospital and had to get to the village for medicine for sexually transmitted diseases. Then he pulled out another paper, a prescription from a clinic.
I asked him how much he needed.
“200,000, Madam (about $50.) My village is far away.”
“I’ll give you 50,000,” I said.
“Please Madam, give me 100,000,” he pleaded. He told me he was weak and hadn’t eaten yesterday. I gave him a banana, then decided that it was, after all, only $25. If he was a con, it wasn’t much lost. I even made him a peanut butter sandwich for on the road.
Later I asked my African friend, Ruth, what she thought about the situation. I hadn’t finished telling the story when she interrupted to ask, “how much did you give him?”
I was by this time embarrassed to tell her. She insists it was a con job. These people know that a new white has come who is here to help Zambians and has a soft heart.
Well, this Mzungu’s heart just hardened some more!
I had a good day otherwise. Some of the women from Bukuumo Cooperative met to discuss the idea of opening a private boarding school for high school girls at one of the farm locations.
It is a good idea. Whether it is also a feasible idea remains to be seen.
It was encouraging to see how the women had thought through the idea already and had concrete numbers ready. Sometimes I think women are better than men at reaching conclusions and then carrying them out. Maybe I am just gender biased, as our neighbour Max likes to tell me. But these are intelligent women and when I am with them, I have hope that Zambia and Bukuumo Cooperative will move forward.

Beautiful flowers bloom atop the broken shards of the protective wall that should keep burglars out, but doesn't. (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

Beautiful flowers bloom atop the broken shards of the protective wall that should keep burglars out, but doesn't. (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

Robert just went out to get his work boots – Australian Bluntstones – and they’re gone. He had left them by the door outside to air out.
Yes, really gone. I can’t believe it. We were sitting inside by the open window and the boots were just outside. I had left a pair of running shoes outside our door one morning and they were gone too, but that was when we were away.
I feel sick.

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