Greetings from us - Anton and Plamen!
It was the summer of 2013 when Anton and I decided it was time to get out of society, that we wanted to lead the life we dreamed of because "now is our time!" We left one behind almost a year ago our dream come true - Zambia. To many, it seems like an interesting and unforgettable adventure, even the "life changing" one would add. But to be so deprived of many things, we encountered many difficulties. We lived for six months, completely isolated from our lives by Europeans - without electricity, water and internet.
The town we lived in - Samphia, was located in the province of Louapula, in the north of the country, on the shore of the huge lake of Banguéulu, which we had previously heard was full of crocodiles. For the first few days in Samphia, we didn't know what we could do, we had no one to rely on. The society around us, in Europe, has "hit our heads", saying that people in Africa are very dangerous and that we should not rely on anyone. We should not go out alone.
It did not take long for us to realize that these so sparkling smiles were real, it did not take time to realize that those dark, beautiful, curious eyes were the eyes of love. Realizing that we were surrounded by people with kind souls full of love, we instantly felt free, just like them. It was no longer difficult for us to start from somewhere, because we could see that the Bemba people were welcoming us. They gave us names. I was baptized by Boupe - which means a gift, and Anton - Moance, which means an honest and open person. But not always did people accept us the way we wanted. Many of them looked at us as moving objects with money. Many of them had only seen white people on TV, the rest of them never, but whatever we were, we were primarily white and rich (well, at least for them).
It took us a long time to show them that we are like them. We started learning the Bamboo language, which gave us a big bonus. They "Bembalised" us, as one girl put it, by chance we spoke on the street in a local language. They taught us to cook like them. Every little subtlety in the confusion of 'nshima', the national and best food (according to Zambians), is corn or cassava (cassava) porridge, we know. They taught us how to light a cooking fire, which is a living art because it gets so fast in braziers (special cooking appliances, kind of like a primitive hob). They showed us how to dance, they told us about relationships between men and women, and building a family. Occasionally, when walking through the orange, dusty streets, complete strangers invite us to their houses to share their intimate with us, even if they didn't have much, they always shared a little with each other.
After they received us, we merged with the Bemba tribe. Our days passed quickly. We woke up in the morning with a thirsty look, "What is going to happen today?" And we went to bed with smiles in the evening. We spent weekdays full of work, and on weekends we rested on the beach on the lake. Often there were also parties where we were one of the main attractions. There were always several people who wanted to talk to us and ask us: What kind of people are we? For this purpose, they bribed us, not with anything, but with beer. Those who wanted to talk to us brought us beer, and when she was taking the exam, they either bought us another or another interviewer to come - again with beer in hand. Of course, we didn't mind, except that sometimes we just wanted to take a break from the work week.
Maybe now the question arises: - How did they get us? Where did they get the money from? What actually worked?
Many locals are farmers or fishermen, so they make a living. Most of them earn a decent income by being teachers, merchants, government officials, businessmen, doctors, police officers, etc. Many of the professions we meet in Europe have been encountered there as well. Yes, even electricians!
In order to fit into society, we had to lose our personal space. We lived in a house with a tin roof and a yard with high walls. At first, this spoke of calm, but here it is time to insert: How creative and curious are the children !? Often when we were digging our garden in the yard, taking a shower in the bathroom in the yard or brushing our teeth (again in the yard), it was heard: - "Musungo, musungo!" ("White man, white man!"). The children climbed the trees near the fence, watching us and shouting from there. Sometimes when we were going out on the streets talking to someone, our conversations were accompanied by 30-40 child watchers. In their longing, to pay attention to them and to play with them, the limits of ordinary calling often passed. Sometimes there was some kid riding on the wheels of the wheels without even realizing that he was getting on. And when we had to sleep in schools, we were "occupied" by dozens of little faces glued to the windows, screaming and knocking, even when we were sleeping.
What we had to be armed with was patience!
Often, when we were walking on the streets, people asked us for money, shoes, clothes, etc. It was hard for us to find friends we could just talk to without asking anything from us. Towards the end of our stay, this no longer impressed us because it is part of their culture. We have been "bagging" ourselves to such an extent that every such detail of our daily lives did not impress us. We were no longer hindered by the hours of waiting for a meeting, nor the tossing of phrases asking for something, nor the children. We knew they just wanted attention!
And what did we actually do there?
We first started working with youth clubs. We organized young people from nearby villages and every day we traveled about 10-15 km by bicycle under the hot African sun to meet them. We started with three villages and all three had different ideas and questions, but we were urged to work on the same program. It included presentations on hygiene, HIV / AIDS, malaria, the importance of breastfeeding, child-rearing, farming or how to make compost, exercise (Why it is important to keep your body!), Swimming lessons, mango jam preparation, where and how to dry fruits, etc. In the first few meetings with two of the villages, we saw that things were not going well. In addition to being late with 1-2, they kept asking for money and what they would get from us.
They did not understand the idea that we were not there to give money but knowledge! We wanted to leave something more durable than clothes and money!
Within a few weeks, people stopped coming. We continued to gather with one of these three villages. The knowledge we gave them would not feed them and they would not pay the school bills. We started with sewing lessons. To do this, we used an African fabric called cheatenge, which they use for everything: sewing clothes, carrying babies, goods, etc. In the first lesson, we showed them how to sew hair bands. We were impressed by how skillful and creative they are. And then we started sewing together purses, bags, envelopes, even a waist belt belt. A lot has accumulated, so it's time to go out and sell on the streets. We saw that they liked the locals - no one was selling the same on the market. We sewed up the sewing days until they made that commitment themselves. One day we went in order to sell, and they had sewn great children's skirts that they sold the same day. They already had enough finances to buy their materials themselves. They were constantly sewing and no longer needed to walk and sell on the streets. People came alone and looked for them, already the whole village knew them. We saw how hard they were working to make money and started thinking about buying a sewing machine. We were saving money and exploring the market. After a while, we got hold of her. The club was very happy! They found a sewing teacher themselves - a local tailor who taught them how to work with the machine. We helped them with advertising and so the Lusaya Youth Club got a tailor shop. We did not have the support of the organization we worked with. We had to find out for ourselves who needed help. That is why we contacted the Ministry of Education.
We decided we could help the schools around us! They gave us a list of 9 schools near us and started visiting them and asking: What could we do for them? We found that many of them do not have any teaching aids and that the walls of the study rooms are old and peeled. We suggested that three of these schools paint some of their rooms with the alphabet, numbers, days of the week, months, some of them even wished to include wild and domestic animals in our drawings. We knew from previous volunteers that there was an orphanage that had no government support, so we decided to find one and work with them. The classroom and the orphanage looked great. The volunteers before us had taken care of this. We decided to cultivate the lawn in the yard and plant a vegetable garden, as well as make a playground. They gladly accepted and went to work.
To fill our time even more fully, we contacted the Ministry of Health and the local hospital. We knew that the percentage of people living with AIDS in Zambia was high, and we did it. The hospital assisted us by giving us condoms. We knew that if we wanted a change in the thinking of the younger generation about the virus and how they could protect themselves, then we had to start with the schools. We met with the principals of some of the schools and shortly afterwards started making presentations from 7 to 12 class. The children were asking questions, and with even greater interest, they understood that even the rich could be infected with the insidious virus.
That is how our six months passed in our beloved Samphi! Busy with lots of work and filled with great emotions! It is impossible not to say that despite what we have done, we are left feeling that it is not enough. We knew we had taken more than we had given. We promised one to come back and meet all those people who have a special place in our hearts! All this is now part of us, a dream come true - Mom Africa!