Thursday, March 25, 2010

Update 24Mar2010

Subject: Weekly Update

Hello to all,
We trust all is well with everyone and that your lives are a bit slower than ours even though we do enjoy it as it is what we were looking for.

We have had a few different experiences this week that will stay in our memories for some time I have been taking one of our oldest boys (19) into town by boat three days a week to work with a plumber who is also very keen to work with us to try and train our kids in trade skills. It is a great and very lucky opportunity as this man is a jack of all trades so he is teaching the boy in many different areas. The young fellow is a big fan of listening to music on his mobile and every time you see him in the home he is just walking around with earphones in and the phone in front of his face. he started doing the same thing when I was taking him to work and he would come along to the boat, hop in and sit down and listen to music I always had to ask him to help load the boat, hold the rope or any other small job of the many that has to be done in a boat. But I had to tap him on the shoulder first because he couldn't hear me. I spoke to the plumber about it and he agreed it was too much so we have banned the earphones from the boat and work.

The school headmaster and I went out and saw the Vocational college people who are going to give about 18 of our children a 3 month course in whatever area they choose between Hospitality, Bricklaying, Joinery, Welding and clothing manufacture. each time we go there they say the same tale of how they do not have enough instructors but are in the process of interviews and they hope to have the new teachers by the 29March?????

Before the floods we had arranged with the local electricity company to connect power to our new transitional home. Well our electrician came out last week and told our boys where to dig the trench for the cables. But the power box they were running the cables from was in 2ft of water and after the boys had dug about 10 metres of the trench the floodwater had engulfed it. We saw the eleco the next day in town and he said the power company was all loaded and ready to come and connect but their workers are like many Africans and scared of boats and water so they were getting the OK from them to come out by boat. I had to tell them to postbone the lot as the situation was comical to think of them laying power cables in 2 ft of water and flooded trenches. I think it will mean a long wait when we go and ask them to connect next time.

The small boy (7 years) Marg took to the hospital last week has a hernia in his testes and has to have an op next month. They are so lovable when you take them out like that as he was spellbound by the boatride, sat at the hospital for 6 hours wuth Marg and did not utter one word of complaint or ask for anything, then on the ride home in the open boat we got drenched by a storm. I put my coat over him and he just sat their in the pouring rain not saying a word.
We took our keen fisherboys up a lovely side creek near the home on the weekend and one hooked a good sized tiger fish but it was on a small hook and the fish got off when we had him beside the boat ready to lift in. This is the third fish the boy has lost and I think we are as keen as him to see him land one as he absolutely loves it and is on our doorstep all the time asking to use the rods. He is 13 years old but has HIV and only weighs 26kg and is on a lot of medication. He is the hardest worker of any of the children even when filling sandbags and he is a joy to help. The advice from the old locals is that the fish will bite well once the water levels go down as at the moment they are spawning on the floodplains and it seems to be true as we see lots of babyfish when we have to walk thru kneehigh water to get from one building to another.

Our headmaster had organized a soccer match for our boys with a team from town last Sunday to start at 2pm. Our boys were told we would leave at 1pm and pick the other team up and take them all to the field which was outside town. Well our boys turned up at 1.45 and the teachers wanted to put 13 big boys and 3 adults in our 5.7 metre boat with a 40hp motor. They did not believe me when I told them how unsafe it was and what would happen to me if I did the same thing in Australia. Other volunteers in previous years have carried that number of people in the boat so the locals can't see what the problem is. they also treat it the same as a car and load it like the local utes with 15 or so people in the back. I eventually settled for 12 boys and 2 adults and when the boat got going and was only chugging down the river they realized what I meant.
it was all to no avail as by the time we got to town the other team had got tired of waiting and gone home, I then took them to their normal Sunday afternoon game in the bush and the team they play was waiting for them.

Our current director and myself had to spend a day or so last week hunting around for a suitable place to evacuate our kids to if we have to move, even our plumber tried all of his local contacts and we eventually found a place with enough amenities and buildings for the needs of 57 kids. The local logistics manager for flood evacuations and his boss came out last friday and saw our situation with the water still rising and he said we had to move and he was going back to finalize things and would be in touch. Luckily that night and the next day the phone network collapsed and he was called away to another area to evacuate 400 people by boat and truck. Luckily again over the weekend the water stopped rising and when we saw him today he agreed to let things stay as is for now so we have our fingers crossed.

Marg has been busy doing a lot of mending of clothes and school uniforms and giving the kids, especially the littleones new clothes. Our next permanent directors who are a lovely couple bought Marg over some material with them when they visited and she is now making nighties for a lot of the girls. She is of course still being the local Florence Nightingale and treating the kids for the many different ailments they get.

One of the female staff asked me for some ' black fill' and I didn'i know what she meant so I asked her what it was to be used for and she said to rub on her arms so I called marg out as I thought she was after some skin cream. Marg eventually got out of them that they wanted brake fluid as they use it to treat a skin ailment they get. Another male staff member asked me for some more again today as he wanted it to treat a rash on his 14 month old baby's face.
Our puppies are becoming typical for their age, shoes are disappearing, you have 4 of them biting your feet as you walk, they tear up anything in sight and the food bowl is empty before it hits the ground. Marg was frightened of them slipping into the river as the bank is muddy from the boat wash so she put them inside with us for a couple of nights. That was all we could stand as they howled half the night so they are back outside with mum. One has gone to a local tribal elder and 2 to staff members..

That has been most of the main events of the week, hope it is of some interest to you, will write more next week

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Namibia Update 14Mar2010

Hello to all,
                    Our main news today has to be the creeping waters of the Zambezi and the flooding. Last year was the worst for about 50 years and the home had to be evacuated for about a month.
We helped to put sandbags on the small bridge on our dirt road leading out of the village as it is the first place to go under and block the road. The sandbags worked well and we were able to use the bridge for another 2 days but not it is gushing across a few feet deep.
By Friday afternoon however it was too risky to take the 4x4 across and go into town as we did not know when the road would wash out and leave a big gutter so we took staff home by boat.
     We have a 6 metre aluminium punt with a 40HP motor which is a little small but we can manage to take 9 adults at a time. We now have to use the boat to bring in food and any other supplies, take people to town which is a 20-30 min trip depending on the load, take children to sport or the hospital and bring staff to and from work. It so far has meant about 4 trips a day starting at 6am and finishing at 6pm.but could be more tomorrow as that is the first working day where we will have to move all the staff and school teachers.
On Saturday we had the children helping to fill and lay sandbags and they did a good job and worked hard with only a few complaints. The bags had to be put around all the doors to the buildings but there is still more to be finished off this week by the yard workers.
At the moment the water has to rise only 1/2 metre to start coming into buildings and it rose about 200mm on each of Friday and saturday but has slowed down today so we are praying that it keeps slowing or preferably stops rising.
 The hippos that we hear 100-200 metres away on the other side of the river seem to be enjoying it of course as we hear their loud grunts often during the day and night, it is a very deep sound that carries a long way and you always think that they are on your side of the river but as yet they are keeping their distance.
Apart from the flood our watchdog Lydia had 8 puppies about 6 weeks ago, she rolled on one when it was very small so we have 7 left and they have been a laugh a minute to watch them grow and climb over each to get to their mum at feeding time. Their antics change every day and the children have loved coming over to play and cuddle them. Marg feeds them and mum twice a day and she is like the Pied Piper to watch all the puppies follow her in a line to get fed. Lydia has been a good mum except when they come up and put their little heads in her food bowl as she then turns and virtually puts the whole of their head in her mouth together with a vicious yelp that has the puppie scurrying away crying loudly.We have now given one away to the local village elder and a couple to staff and our eldest boy wants to take 2 home to his village. We will be keeping one in the home and one in the transition with the older kids.
The kids have been cleaning up the long grass at the transition home and working hard too, we have been proud of their effort as they are not used to manual labour.We are hoping the home will be finished in the next few weeks after which we will start teaching the kids how to live on their own and support themselves. they will be starting Vocational training in early April.
 One of our keen fisherboys caught a nice tiger fish last week and Marg cooked it for him tonight and he ate the whole fish about 35cms long himself. It was a really special treat for him. They have been trying very hard to catch more but the fish will not be biting again until after the water level drops, I have about 6 trained to cast properly and they will be very happy when they start catching more. They no sooner finish school of a day then they are knocking at the door asking for the rods and bait.
The local chiefs (Indunas) from the village came for a meeting last week and requested a boat ride as they had never had one and they did enjoy it so that was a nice way to mix with the locals.
Will have more news next week 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Test Blog

This is a test blog

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Namibia first edition

Hello to all from Namibia, we have settled in now to the normal busy schedule here at the village and of course love it especially the time we get to spend with the kids as they do look for it always.
We were set to work on the 3 hour drive from Livingstone airport in Zambia to the village as after an hour he just pulled over to the side if the road, said he needed my help then hopped out of the car and walked around to my side of the vehicle and said he was tired and asked if I could drive as he had got up early that morning This was after we had traveled 36 hours and I said we had not even gone to bed but I managed it somehow.

Marg has been doing her usual running around after all of the kids, doing the cooking for 7 people every night and patching the kids and staff clothes amongst many other things. She has not stopped from 6.30 till 7 at night and many hospital trips with different kids which have to start by leaving home at 6am so that you get close to the front of the que but you still never finish until after 1pm and many days she has been there until 3.
The kids guardian had to organize birth certificates one day, she left home at 5am and we picked her up at 2pm after she had very little success.

The kids had an athletics carnival one Saturday in 34degrees heat, our local soccer star came second in the 5000metres which he ran on bitumen barefoot then next day played 2 ninety minute games of soccer. Our kids did well with 4 individuals winning, one boy ( Goti) won his 1500 and 100metre and Lisetti won the 100, 200 and 400.

I have been teaching the boys and one girl how to fish and Mawinda caught the first tiger fish and he was really thrilled so the next day about 20 kids turned up to either watch or have a go. They are a fish with about 12 razor sharp teeth around the front of their mouth so you need a wire trace to catch them and they do put up a good fight as they are lightning fast swimmers and jump out of the water a couple of times when you are reeling them in. They are the prized fish in a lot of southern Africa.

We have had heaps of rain and the river is still rising about 4-6 inches a day and if it continues for another 4-5 days we will be evacuating all of the kids and leave a skeleton staff here for security and support them with our floodboat. They have a patch of land available with 6 foot high grass on it and nothing else so we will have to bring in everything to support the kids,going to be an interesting time if we do have to leave.

Well that is most of the news up till now, this is a test of the blog site as well so we will write more next time. Hope everyone is doing well back home.