Not quite the visit I’d planned…

Ben Luck has just returned from Zambia. He writes:

I thought I was going to Monze to help install solar lighting equipment in Pizz School, and I had been preparing by studying the manual and collecting the tools and equipment we needed. But that’s not what happened, for the whole month I was there the equipment was stuck at Lusaka airport, impounded by customs. While this was frustrating and disappointing, it also meant that I could spend my time in Monze (it was my first visit) in a different way. I had more time just to be there, to meet and spend time with people, to shop in the market. I was lucky to go out with Chris Barrell who has been there for many years and has many friends.

Also, I was able to spend time visiting children and families in their homes. Pizz has a wonderful system of care givers, ladies who live in different parts of the community and who have ‘their ear to the ground’, in other words they know where the children are in greatest need, and when a family is experiencing particular difficulties. So I was able to go out visiting with these caregivers. Briefly, and to give a flavour, these are some of the visits I made:

  • A girl who suffers from epilepsy and who had had a fit that morning. She lives with her grandmother.

  • A brother and sister who go to secondary school. But they are required to bring a packed lunch. Because they are unable to do this, they come home at midday. (Even when children have left Pizz, the care continues).

  • A girl who was unable to be at school because she was looking after her sick mother. Her mother was lying on the hard floor, with no blanket. She makes a small living by selling fish in the market, but since being ill has been unable to do this. So there was no food in the house.

  • A ten year old boy who lives with his grandmother; they were sitting on the ground shelling maize. She is ill, and lives in a small hut with eleven grandchildren.

  • A young mother who had a traffic accident when she was one month pregnant. Her beautiful daughter was born without legs.

  • A very old lady who doesn’t know how old she is but thinks over a hundred! She has been been confined to bed for many years, cared for by her daughter who is herself partially disabled through polio.

So although I was unable to install the solar lights as planned, perhaps through these visits I was able to gain a deeper understanding of everyday life in Monze, of the challenges which people face and the courage and dignity with which they do this.

Also, I was able to appreciate the value of Pizz School, not only giving a great education but also understanding and caring for the children in their home situation as well.

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