Saturday, July 14, 2012
Sorry we haven’t blogged in a while. Our last week here in Zambia has been filled with donations, goodbyes, and packing. Let us begin where we left off. When we returned from safari, we were greeted with a pleasant candle-lit dinner at the bar at Pioneer Camp. As a result of our twelve hour road trip, we were hungry and extremely tired, so after stuffing ourselves with steak, chicken, and spaghetti Bolognese, we immediately hit the sack. Luckily, on Tuesday morning, we were able to sleep in before a day of shopping. We headed out into Lusaka at around noon and traveled to Northmead market, our final market stop on the trip. Once there, we purchased our last round of African crafts and feasted on Nshima. Of course, being a group of hungry teenagers, our absence for a week warranted yet another trip to Shoprite (the local Zambian grocery store-think Costco, but downsized). At Shoprite, we stocked up on Cornflakes, vegetables, and goodies to bring home to our families. While we were shopping, Josie and Izzy went to Nando’s, a European chain which happens to be the favorite restaurant of Niall Horan (the Irish member of One Direction). This was a very special moment as Nando’s does not exist anywhere in the United States other than in Washington, D.C., and they had been dying to taste it. The food was excellent and exceeded their expectations.
On Wednesday, we got to sleep in again!! What a nice surprise! We awoke from our slumbers at around 9 in preparation for a shoe drive at the Waterfall Clinic, a small local clinic located at the bottom of Palabana Road. We walked to the clinic and organized the shoes which we brought to Zambia based on size. Children from the surrounding area were already lined up outside the doors of the clinic by the time we arrived. When the shoe drive began, children entered the clinic one by one and each Seattle Academy student helped each of the children find a pair of shoes that fit and that suited them. We were able to give shoes to all of the school children, but we very unfortunately had to turn away many of the local children as we ran out of shoes quickly. When the shoe drive was over, we had to close the doors of the clinic and we distributed pens to the children who were not able to receive shoes. Before we left, they sang us a traditional song and we all sang the Zambia national anthem together. Finally, we said goodbye to the children and walked home for some relaxation followed by dinner. After dinner we had a discussion about our experiences at the clinic. The day was very emotional, especially for those of us who were in the clinic when the local children had to be turned away. We all felt good about helping these children, but the experience was definitely overwhelming.
On Thursday, the early mornings returned. We got on the bus at our usual time of 8:00am and headed out to Birdland for our last day with the kids. At around 10:00 the assembly began with us singing the Zambian National Anthem. When the Birdland kids joined in the second time, a few of us broke down in tears. Then we sat back and watched an adorable song performed by the kindergarteners and impressive dance, news report, and debate performances done by some of the older kids. Then a group of us got up and sang That Lonesome Road, which the Birdland community seemed to thoroughly enjoy. Finally, during the last dance performance, the children came up to us and dragged us onto the dance floor (Olive even grabbed Jack for a dance!). We were reluctant at first, but we all joined in and ended up having a lot of fun.
After the assembly ended we stayed back because the teachers apparently had something else to present us. They called us up one by one and presented us with chitengues, bracelets, paintings, jerseys, handmade crafts, and other lovely gifts, which was completely unexpected. We were so grateful and touched by their generosity and kindness. After that we went and grabbed the clothing we had donated and then handed it out to those considered the “vulnerable” children at Birdland. These children are typically children who are orphans or who have HIV. We each presented a child with a bundle of clothing and then chatted with them for awhile. For the rest of the day we played with the Birdland kids for the last time and then had to say goodbye. When we said goodbye to the younger kids they swarmed us and showered us with hugs and kisses. Leaving them was especially heartbreaking because they did not fully understand that we were not coming back. The ride back to Pioneer Camp was pretty quiet because we were all sad and exhausted from the emotional day. But there was no time to rest, as we had important guests to impress at dinner that night. Olive, her husband Phil, and their two children came to the cottage at Pioneer Camp for dinner, and we had a full course meal planned to thank them for welcoming us into the Birdland community. We spent the afternoon cooking tomato and mozzarella bruschetta, mulligatawny soup (a recipe that Josie brought from home), homemade pesto pasta with grilled chicken, salad with caramelized nuts and fruit, and peach/pear cobbler with vanilla ice cream for dessert. Gigi arranged beautiful center pieces made from flowers, candles, and African warthog figurines. The evening was a success, as Olive and her family left with full stomachs. Although we know that the meal wasn’t nearly enough to thank Olive for everything she has done for us on the trip, we all felt that we had managed to communicate our appreciation in our own way.
On Friday we woke up at our usual time and headed to Birdland (not to see the kids, unfortunately) to meet up with Olive and go see the houses that we provided cement floors for. First, however, we presented the Birdland teachers with thank you cards and gifts of clothing, which they greatly appreciated. Then we hopped on a bus with Olive and Olipa to go to the houses. We were all so amazed to see the finished cement floors in the first two houses and the progress that had been made on the second two houses. It warmed us to see how grateful everyone was for our help. The cement floors will help prevent chest infections caused by dust, will be nicer to sleep on, and will not get damp or wash away in the rainy season, so they are clearly an improvement on the dirt floors that had been in the houses previously.
After visiting the houses we received our handmade goodies from the tailor (which we are all so happy with), said goodbye to Birdland for the last time, and headed up to Munali. At Munali we were greeted with great enthusiasm from all of the students. We received hugs from practically everyone and then got to just hang out and chat with them for a few hours. Spending a solid chunk of time with our Munali friends was a great way to end our time with them and remember them. Once again, we eventually had to say sorry goodbyes and received may more hugs before heading back to Pioneer Camp. We had our last walk down Palabana Road, which was as beautiful as ever, and our last meal at Pioneer Camp, made by the superb cook team of Carly and Sam.
Today (Saturday) was our last full day in Zambia,L but it was a very pleasant one. Jack, Sam, Reed, Tommy, and Gabe woke up at 6:00am to do a polar bear swim in the cold pool while the rest of us slept in a little later. Most of us packed when we woke up and then lay outside reading, tanning, chatting, or listening to music and soaking up the last bit of Zambian sun. In the middle of the day we did a writing exercise where we each wrote a letter to ourselves which Tommy will give to us some point in the next year at school. After writing the letters most of us went up to the pool and a few of us jumped in one last time. Jack also demonstrated some of his lifeguarding skills, using Leora as his test dummy.
At around 5:30 we headed out to a Brai (barbeque) a few minutes away from Pioneer Camp. Paul (the owner of Pioneer Camp) drove us out to a field where we played keep away with a soccer ball until the sun went down and then had a dinner of Nshima with either vegetables, chicken, t-bone, or pork cooked by Paul on an open fire. We enjoyed eating our last delicious dinner under the stars huddled around the warm fire.
Now, we are back at Pioneer Camp, blogging at the bar for the last time and enjoying the company of the dogs, Paul, and Alfred. Tomorrow, we will wake up slightly earlier, pack up our last few things, and eat an English breakfast at the bar before heading to the Lusaka airport and beginning our long journey back to Seattle. Our flight out to Ethiopia leaves tomorrow afternoon at 3:30 pm. We will arrive in Addis Ababa at around 10 pm, and we expect to go through immigration and then head to our hotel for a good night’s sleep. On Monday morning, we will wake up, walk around Addis Ababa, and have a nice lunch (hopefully with Reed’s family friend) before embarking on our long flight back to the United States. Of course, we won’t actually be home in Seattle until Tuesday night, but don’t forget to come pick up your kids at 9 pm at Seatac airport on Tuesday night (July 17th)!!!! We are not looking forward to our long and sad flights, but we are very excited to see our families when we arrive. Can’t wait to see you there!!! Thanks for keeping up with us on the blog, and we will see you soon!
-Izzy and Josie