Ten Months in Zambia

You cannot believe how much jet lag, whiplash, or complete amnesia I feel at this point in my service. Every month feels closer and arrives quicker but my mind keeps lagging behind. I felt in time during Sep-Nov but afterwards my mind became dragged along. I felt one month behind and then two and to this day, I feel as if I am in still in January.

Am I getting to the age in my life where life seems to fly by? But one person told me,

You are experiencing so much in so little time that you have so much to process.

Since January, my choices and movements have changed. Relationships were now built upon instead of forming new foundations. My work is being noticed and I am no longer the trainee but an accountable volunteer.

My months are being taken over by trainings, house days, visiting so many volunteers and so many guests that I feel as so little time is left for projects. And when I have time for projects, no one has time for me. And the days drift along.

It’s only a few hours till night, I say or it’s only a few hours till the next day. And the morning disappears and before long, it is already time to heat my bath water.

I’ve gotten sick. I’ve stopped biking as much because of the rain and finished more books but yet I still feel as I’ve done so much during my other days that I still feel exhausted at night.

Time and time again, I am so bewildered at the fact that it is freaking April. How has April began and with nutrition training for a week in Choma and a few days with the best friends at Victoria Falls afterwards, this month is nothing before May arrives. Then May comes with further plans and then a trip to Zanzibar in Tanzania. And then June appears. In June, there is a visit to other provinces and a whole week in the provincial house and July has arrived.

I blink and everything is flashing forward while my mind is still waiting for February to arrive. But my mind splashed to the surface and sped to the present when I saw something clear before me.

I’ve been in Zambia ten months but I’ve seen Asha for only eight months. Standing next to one of the kitchen beams where I had marked her height in August, she had grown to so much in the last eight months that the shoes she wore all day that had lights in the back were now not holding all of her foot. She danced and tried to stay in balance as her small shoes tried to hold up. Her lights didn’t work and they were frayed. I realized she has grown.

She no longer wants to be carried.  She doesn’t cry for her wants or if she falls. Her favorite words are “Awe,” (No) or “Nakanwa,” (I don’t want to). She shrugs her shoulders and becoming this little person who is no longer the runt of the grandchildren but as tall as the boys. She is still shy with me but not as a small baby but the shyness of a little girl.  I ask her many questions to teach her name and address and information in English and she feels so shy.

I have not noticed that little girl is no longer being fed food or rocked to sleep. I did not see that all this time, things have changed. I have changed. Why was my mind so set in the past?

My community sees me more of as a constant house guest and visitor for meals. I’ve started a partnership with a church hoping to renovate their church to provide me workers, bricks, and to extend my house for a flat rate fee that would go the church fund. Instead of paying for bricks and roofing and then for workers and more for extra work, I can get my house for a smaller fee and the church can get money for roofing and windows. And the work is supervised by three people I trust so much with incredible loyalty to me, experience in the fields of supervision, construction, and building standards according to Peace Corps.

And all through negotiation made in an afternoon laundry duty near the river in a short conversation.

So much has changed. Instead of being scared of people’s accountability, I know who to go to and with few words, get exactly what I want. So much has changed.

My mind still needs to catch up. But before long, it’ll only be months before I’m home. Hopefully by then, my mind will have moved on from Zambia. Or maybe it’s good that my mind takes its time.

Cause this is a once in a lifetime experience. Why not hold on to such a dream come true?


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