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  • Children in village
  • Village gathering
  • Women cooking
  • Cooking pot
  • Village young people

Zambia 2013 Day 1

We arrived exhausted last night after a 24 hour journey. We had a meal at the hotel and decided to try some local cuisine. For a starter, I had crocodile tail, and for my main course spicy Warthog! I had an early night as we had a 6.30 start due to a 350km drive to a remote village in Zambia the next day.

The journey included a 50km drive on dirt tracks barely possible by a 4x4, and by the time we reached the village we really knew we were in a really remote spot.

When we arrived, about 60 villagers had assembled to greet us and we were welcomed by a traditional song and dance from the village ladies and the children. They were fantastic. Full of happiness, smiling constantly, and brilliant singers. They were all really excited about us being there.

We were formally welcomed by the head of the village speaking Tongan and we replied through our translator.

We were shown to the scoop hole where the water was collected for the village-about a kilometre away. It was a basic hole in the bed of a dried up stream that was used for about 250 villagers, and all their livestock! One of the village ladies told us, through a translator, that the women and young girls had to collect the water and carry it on their heads back to the village for use for drinking, cooking and bathing. We are in the dry season now and the water is reducing all the time.

Due to the shortage of water and the use of it also by animals, illness is rife, particularly for the babies and children who get severe stomach cramps and diarrhoea. When this happens, the women have to carry the children about 17 km across rough terrain, to get some medical help from a mission health spot.

The staple diet in the village is called Nshima, which is ground maize mixed with water and stewed in a pot on an open fire until it gets thick like a porridge. This is eaten with some vegetables which they grow and maybe one of the chickens. There is a theme here: the women have to go to the nearest place to get the maize powder. It is bought in 20 kg bags which they carry on their heads the 10 km back to the village.

I asked the question later to the local WaterAid staff  "what do the men do?" They were diplomatic with the answer but basically it consisted of a lot less than the women!! I now knew why the women were so pleased to see us, because it will be their lives that are improved significantly with a new water supply.

We were shown around the village, saw someone making Nshima and chicken, and then asked to gather at the centre of the village where we were addressed by a man and woman from the village while we were served Nshima and chicken along with a cup of Munkoyo  (home made non-alcoholic root beer).

The economy of the village is based on the sale of vegetables and the roots for the beer which are found nearby. The money obtained is used to buy ground maize etc

I was struck by how happy the villagers were, even under these circumstances, and how content they were living in their family units. Seeing this makes you really think about your own life and challenges the dependencies we have on material things, and how we really take for granted the basic things in life that we have got in abundance - like water.

WaterAid can change the lives of these villagers for as little as £20 for each villager. A new safe bore hole water supply and pump will cost only £4000, preventing the illness and hardship they are currently suffering. Fortunately this project is included on the WaterAid work plan and is only possible due to the fundraising activities and the generosity of businesses and individuals

Another early night now as we have another early start and a long drive to Livingstone.