Muli Shani! After 42 hours of travel we have arrived at Kitwe. It only took 2 planes, 4 airports, 5 buses and a night with cockroaches in Ethiopia, but we got here in one piece!
There are still a few things that will take a bit of getting used to, such as water rationing and “Dooming the Room” (spraying the room with “Doom” insecticide to kill any midnight friends).
After an abrupt wake up call by the neighbour’s cockerel at 6am, we were brought to the Cathedral of Kitwe by our driver, Jonas. We were met by the local youth group, who showed us around the Kitwe markets. There we experienced a constant bombardment of the senses. As merchants tried to call our attention with their appealing vegetables and aromatic perfumes, our guides kept us close.
We finished off the day with the Jonas Bus Tour of Kitwe and the local mines. It soon became clear that there was a huge contrast in housing; stone walls and huge fences next to wooden shacks with no protection. There were people on the street selling raw meat and vegetables, surrounded by large amounts of refuse. Jonas said it was because the mining company no longer provides a collection service since they became privatised. This led to the miners being evicted from homes that were state owned. The houses were then put on sale, leaving many of the poorer workers on the streets and rubbish to accumulate. As the tour drew to an end, we noticed a contrast between the stereotypical African Savannah sunset and the industrialised reality.
You know the way in Ireland how we are always complaining about how long winded Robert can be or having to stand for more than two songs? Well, try having to put up with that for 5 hours in one day and the priest apologising to the congregation for shortening the service because we were there! Although it was almost never ending, it was the best service we have ever been to! The room was full of energy as we sung and danced together. The congregation were very friendly. As a traditional welcome they rubbed their hands together before clapping 3 times. Then, as we were leaving we shook everyone’s hands. Jonas our driver then brought us to the church treasurer’s house, where we had lunch with the vicar general and enjoyed getting to know the people and the Zambian culture a bit more.
Today we went to Chambishi, where we visited the parish priest at the local preschool before driving to Chambishi Secondary School. There we met the Deputy Head of the school, who showed us around the school and led us to the classes. We amused the students by speaking (or attempting to speak) Bemba. Some of the classes had up to 90 students. She talked to us about the fact that many of the students came from vulnerable families, financially. Thankfully, the school was happy to let the parents pay the school fees in small amounts. We were really impressed by the variety of subjects and the dedication of both teachers and students.
Today we went to the Kitwe primary and secondary school building site. This project was started up by the diocese in 2012 and the community was excited about the project. Unfortunately it has not been completed due to lack of funding. However, the workers estimate that the primary school section should be ready for the children in 2017. Afterwards, we moved on to another building site where they are constructing a conference centre. It will be rented out to businesses and the income from the conference centre will pay for the completion of the school. We quickly got to work and helped make bricks. The workers enjoyed the extra help and it provided an opportunity to get to know them.