Memory and Drumming with the locals under the stars!

It has been a great past two days here in Zambia.  Despite being winter, the weather has stayed quite hot which has allowed for a bit of time by the pool but I have stayed busy at both school and the orphanage.  School is going well; the children have loads of energy and get off-task quickly but they really do seem to enjoy school, especially math class.  With much repetition, the students are starting to get a grasp on division… it is definitely neat to see how far they have come in just a few days.  Miss Judy, the grade three teacher, gave me a chitange (a very common material here often warn as a skirt) along with a drum today… a very nice and unexpected gesture!  Once I have finished teaching and my class “knocks off,” I have been observing other classes (mainly grades 8 and 9) for a few hours before heading to the Lubasi Home.  Tomorrow, however, Sister Mary has invited me over to her house for a traditional lunch—I’m sure nschima will be involved!  So I am definitely looking forward to that!

Lubasi has been an eye-opening experience to say the least.  Not going to lie, it is hard visiting and seeing the reality of the children’s lives but they are absolutely wonderful and so much fun to be with—we have enjoyed swinging, playing games, singing and dancing, and their favorite: hair-braiding… each day I come home with a head full of braids!  Yesterday at Lubasi, Fargo, a kid about my age from England who also volunteers at the orphanage, brought a soccer ball and oh boy was that a hit!  I watched with the three and four year olds as the older boys played and once they were finished, we enjoyed kicking around the ball for quite some time.  I also had the chance to talk to Memory for a bit yesterday.  Unfortunately Memory was sick and it turns out that she was actually heading to the hospital so we didn’t talk long but she spoke decent English and was telling me all about her story and her life at Lubasi.  She came to Lubasi in 2007 when she was seven-years-old after both of her parents had passed away from disease.  She is now eleven and it is her fifth year at the orphanage—luckily she gets to attend the public school near school but that is about the extent of her exciting life.  She seems to realize the situation she is in as she will be at Lubasi until she turns 19.  She told me that her favorite thing to do was dance and that she gets to perform with a few of the other children from the orphanage each Sunday at a nearby park—other than that and school however, she doesn’t get to see much of the outside world.  Her story crushed me… this eleven-year-old has already been at the orphanage for five years but still has about seven to go… I couldn’t even imagine such a life—definitely a heart-breaking story.  Like I said, it is hard seeing and hearing all of these stories first-hand and very impactful… I wish more people got to witness this way of life just to appreciate what all they have.  Also, Muzuungo quickly became Susan and the hugs and smiles from the children are extremely fulfilling and make the entire experience completely worth it!

Last night I had a nice evening with Paul and Tom on the waterfront.  Tom is from Sydney, Australia and we spent a few hours talking about a lot of international stuff—from travel to news to international relations to learning a lot on the history of Africa from Paul—it was actually all incredibly interesting!  I’ve learned a lot from the travelers here… most of which have traveled and experienced much of the world so we are able to share similar stories and such!

Tonight, Louise and I ventured with Boyd to get some drumming lessons.  We have gotten to know Boyd over the past week-and-a-half or so and he teaches drumming and offered to take us for the night!  So we went to his compound (pretty similar to a neighborhood) and he showed us where he lived and he grabbed a few drums for the trip.  He practices Rasta (the Bob Marley-like religion) so we headed with him and some of his friends to their “holy, church land” about two miles from town.  It was a long walk and a bit chilly—we had to walk through a few other compounds to get there and literally children came running after Louise and I chanting Muzuungo, Muzuungo—I have a feeling that they don’t tend to see very many white people walking through their compounds (far off the beaten path of any normal tourist!).  we literally had a parade going for a bit—not going to lie, it was a tad awkward walking along with children chanting Muzuungo behind you.  Anyways, we got to their holy, church land and Boyd gave us drums and told us the basics of the Jambi drum—there are two different sounds, a base and a slap.  We learned beats and basic rhythms—they were actually pretty easy to pick up thanks to the years and years of piano and music theory.  As Boyd was teaching us, his friends broke out the weed and they were sitting around in their “holy land” playing the drums while smoking… they weren’t joking about this Rasta religion stuff!  The sun was just starting to set so it was absolutely beautiful out and soon we were playing under the stars.  It got a bit too dark to learn much more as it was hard to follow along in the dark but Boyd and his friends drummed a bit for us—playing their traditional music while singing along… definitely very interesting.  They were pretty serious about this religion thing as we prayed twice, in different areas to show respect before leaving.  We walked back the two miles to the main compound area before catching a taxi back to Fawlty Towers for the night.  Can’t say I know much about that Rasta religion but it was certainly an interesting experience to join in on… I did actually really enjoy the drumming part however and it was really cool to see the compounds that people lived in.  We got a few more roommates today—one guy from New Zealand and another from Holland so we all went out to the local pub for dinner and watched a bit of a soccer game before calling it a night.

Well, I’m staying busy over here… drumming away and enjoying the last few days of Zambia—trying to take in as much as I can!  Miss you all.

~Susan

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