22 February 2015

Placement: Kamwaamba from Choma, Zambia

This blog post has been a long time coming but I have finally got some time and something to write about as I have completed my first week of my placement at BICC/CCDP (Brethren In Christ Church/Choma Children Development Program). However, I will start at the beginning.

Lusaka

After an extremely long, stress inducing, sleep depriving journey to Zambia, which included the loss of a team member, boarding time panic and team illness, we arrived at Lusaka airport.


We spent a week training in Zambia's capital city, Lusaka, trawling through it's busy streets and crossing over the train tracks to reach their mall.

It was not long after that our two teams split with my team embarking on the 5 hour drive to Choma, a relatively small market town based in Zambia's Southern Province just 2 hours out of Livingstone.


Choma
After arriving we met our host homes (additional blog post to follow) and had further in community training, allowing us to learn the lay of the land and discovering our specific work placements, with mine being BICC/CCDP

BICC/CCDP (Brethren In Christ Church/Choma Children Development Program)
BICC/CCDP is an organisation that covers various project areas which all centred around and focusing on leading healthy lifestyles. It's 4 projects include:
1. HIV and AIDS awareness
2. Child protection
3. Self-Help Groups (small groups that save and loan money to each other)
4. Micro-credit/Income Generating Activities (providing training and resources to promote entrepreneurship) 
I feel very lucky in the placement I was given as a lot of our work is in the field and our boss Cornwell is eager for all us to gain as much experience, both professionally and cultural, as possible. This was enforced on our second day when we visited Pangwe.

Pangwe

Pangwe is a beautiful, tiny village located 23 kilometres west of Choma, housing only the bare essentials to life. BICC/CCDP were there to discuss the various projects it promotes. HIV and AIDS testing was administered while talks and discussions were carried out. As volunteers we aided with the testing and distributed condoms. Over 200 people attended this meeting, with everyone representing their respective communities.

The day ended with everyone in attendance proceeding to the local clinic where food was cooked for all to share. The hilly terrain provided some wonderfully luscious scenes, full of picturesque greenery.

The adventurous week didn't stop there as we were scheduled to attend a self help group meeting that Thursday however it was postponed due to an unfortunate event.

A Traditional Zambian Funeral
One of the daughters within the community we had intended to visit had died. The cause of death wasn't revealed to me however she had suffered from AIDS, meaning her system was unable to sufficiently fight off other infections. Thinking that it would be the end of the day we were preparing for a quiet day at the office until Cornwell extended an invite to the funeral so we could experience a real Zambian funeral. In Zambia a formal invitation to a funeral is considered ridiculous, rather you are expected to be present, as a sign of respect for the dead and to show your support for those grieving. This led to the formation of a crowd roughly 200 strong in attendance.
 
The proceedings led to an extremely unique experience, both an entertaining celebration of life and a harrowing moment of mourning. It is certainly a memory I will never forget.

To summarise, Zambia is amazing and I am eagerly exciting to see where the rest of this journey takes me. This ended up being an even longer blog post then I expected and I intend to post more frequently to avoid inducing boredom.

Twalumba for reading!

Luke T.
(P.S. Sorry for spelling and grammatical errors, it's hard to write accurately on a phone)



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