Katey in Zambia

My adventures as a Peace Corps HIV/AIDS Project Volunteer in Zambia. *The contents of this blog are my own opinions and do not reflect those of the United States Peace Corps.*

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Well, I'm back in America on one month of home leave. Its almost over but it has been a wonderful trip seeing family and friends. There were two "mini reunions" of sorts for rpcvs from Zambia which were a lot of fun and refocused me on the great things about Zambia. Now I am excited to get back to work there.
I have posted a lot more pictures with this access to free internet, so enjoy them. They are mostly from my time in the village, though I now live in town as part of my new position.








Sunday, October 19, 2008

Its been a long long long time eh?

After recieving many complaints, mostly from my Mom... I have finally found the time to update my blog... sorry for the delay.
Since the last post a lot has happened: 1. I finished my service in the village 2. I moved to the provincial headquarters and began my job as the provincial coordinator (PCVL) 3. I went on vacation to Kenya... and many other things inbetween!
1. I wrapped up all of my projects and left some for the new volunteer (who has since moved into the village). The goodbye was sad, one little girl refused to come near me and cried as I biked out of my village for the very last time with pounds and pounds of groundnuts on my bike rack (given to me as rememberance gifts/going away gifts). However, it was time to go. Not only was 2 years just enough time to get some projects done and really accomplish something, but I was ready for a change of pace! I still hear from my village every once in a while, and my neighbor named her baby Katey after me shortly after I left, what an honor!
2. After leaving the village, I became PCVL which is more of an adminstrative position that allows me to work with the Lusaka office, provincial and district government counterparts, volunteers, and volunteer communities. Its a wonderful change of pace, those who know me know that I enjoy being busy and multi tasking, none of which really happened in the village.
3. I just returned from a vacation to Kenya where I got to revisit the old haunts of my college experience there. It was amazing to be back where I first fell in love with life in Africa. It was also amazing the number of people who remembered me four years later, though they had no idea I would be returning! My friend Liz came along with me on the trip to Lamu and Mombasa where we were able to relax, drink tea with people in their homes and catch up on what was happening in everyones lives.
I realize this post is rather mundane and boring, but now that I have caught you up, and now that I live in a house with running water and electricity in a town where there is internet, Ill try to be better about posting the more interesting tidbits of my zamlife!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

the end is nearing

It has been wonderful being back int he village after my visit in America. After I returned to Zambia, I travelled with myPCV friend Maggie to Mpulungu on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in Northern Zambia. While it ws lovely to relax on the beach and see another part of Zambia, we aren't sure it was worth the 36 hour trip (one way) to get there!
After the brief holiday to Mpulungu I came back to my village. Things are really picking up as I near the end of my time here. I will leave my village at the end of July to begin my 3rd year extension position in Chipata. The CATF is starting to take greate initiative as the umbrella organization for HIV/AIDS monitoring in the area. The sewing IGA group (Taonga) is beginning to show the community its worth by spending its profits on food for HIV+ patients in the area. It is certainly nice to see things take off on their own... afterall, "sustainability" is the ultimate goal in Peace Corps. It is going to be hard to say goodbye to people and projects here though since development of HIV prevention and care is moving relatively smoothly. I am also excited to see what else the people here do when the next volunteer arrives in September.
When I returned to the village, I gave them some gifts send bymy parents in America. The 3 small boys were all sent shirts that have characters which light up when the shirt moves. Poor Elias, the youngest of the 3, is scared of the lights! Soon enough he will be used to it and wear the shirt proudly to church or child weighing (the 2 occasions when he allows his mother to dress him... otherwise he much prefers his "birthday suit"... what 2 year old doesnt?

Thursday, January 31, 2008

quick tidbits

Life in the village has been good. Its always excellent to get back into a routine, back to work, and be in my own hut after being away. Christmas and New years wee relaxing and I was eager to get back to work.
Other than my 3 current projects (sewing IGA, youth friendly corner, and community AIDS task force training) I've been spending a lot of time just soaking-up village life. The time between now and the end of July is just going to FLY by!
One day EVERYONE painted their nails with the polish I bought the girls for Christmas. I planted a field of corn and soya with the help of every village kid- I guess its more entertaining to hoe in my field and watch me than work with their parents in their own fields. I watched half of a movie at my nurse's house, the solar power ran out... since it is the rainy season and all. I do laungry and pray that it doesn't rain.... but inevitably it takes 3 days for ANYTHING to dry. I hang out and chat with anyone who is around. I confuse the new teachers at the school who, no matter how much I explain who I am, are still confused every time I walk through the school on my way to work or to fetch water. Finally, I eat a lot of mangoes... sadly the mango season is ending... but guavas will be here soon!
Work is going well, which is rare for the rainy season so that is keeping me motivated! Unfortunately we did find out that a little boy that I adore tested positive for HIV at 18 months old (both of his parents are HIV positive). That has been one of the toughest things to deal with in my service here, and my life in general! He is an awesome kid. We have been eating breakfasts together now so that he gets breakfast (since no one usually eats before going to the fields and return around 10am or 11am). He is IN LOVE with hot chocolate... "AKet, nipeko ho cho cho, ho cho cho" "Katey, please give me hot chocolate"... adorable, right?
I am looking forward to seeing americaland and the people there in a month... the week i am there is just going to fly by!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sewing along

A while ago I started a group comprised of representatives from all of the HIV/AIDS groups in my area: Zumwanda Cooperating HIV/AIDS Partners (ZCHAP). The group has big plans and lots of ideas for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) and orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) support, as well as community outreach HIV/AIDS education programs. Each group represented has been able to implement their own programs (home based care, education, etc.) but the cummulative group, ZCHAP has no government supporter or funds. The group therefore decided to start an income generating activity (IGA) of their own in order to fund their programs. The idea of a sewing business was born.
With the kind support of friends and family at home as well as the DCHS National Honors Society, the club was able to purchase a sewing machine and all the start-up materials necessary for their business. A member of the group is teaching others how to cut fabric and sew. They are sewing school uniforms and will begin shortly to make purses and other bags to sell.
The whole venture is proving entertaining and rewarding. Entertaining as they teach eachother and laugh and exclaim that the other has failed before they start over again. Rewarding because its a big project and its actually coming together nicely!

Friday, December 21, 2007

a day in the life:

people have been wondering... so one day, i just wrote down everything i did. you are welcome mom!
700: wake up. No one is in the village except 2 or 3 children. Everyone else has gone to the fields
800: Warm water over brasier for tea and cream of wheat.
900: Walk 1.5 km to the clinic. meet a friend along the way who, just as everyone in my village did yesterday, tells me I've been away too long and that I am very fat. (This translates into "American" as, I've missed you, I'm glad you have returned healthy). The last half kilometer to the clinic I am shyly greeted by small, giggling children on their way to school.
930: I arrive at teh clinic, weave my way through the swarm of people waiting to be seen and greet the nurse inside who is pulling school exercize books from a shelf (the closest thing to a patient record here). He begins a tyrade about being overworked and we both agree that the clinic is sorely understaffed now that everyone has been transfeerred to urban areas. This has left only him to do the work of 3, and he is on-call every day all day for emergencies and baby deliveries.
1000: I go to my friend's house (the other nurse who has just been transferred) and help her pack. This involves me stuffing hundreds of foam pieces into a pillow case, and explaining the cultural inuendos in the movie "Sideways" which she recently watched.
1100: I excuse myself and walk to the chief's village in search of a counterpart that I am inviting to a workshop in Chipata. She, of course (as nothing works out as planned the first time around in Zambia) is in town today, so I leave a note for her. While waiting to find out that she is away for the day, I chat with another woman and her 2 teenage daughters. They are not only shocked... but horrified to hear taht I am an only child. We debate whether I should have 2 or 10 children, and why I am not married yet at the ripe old age of 23! Then we move onto food and I list everything I can think of that we eat in America and repeat over and over that we don't eat sima. Another woman appears with her toddler at this point, chuckling that her (now screaming in terror of me) daughter saw me and announced "Mama, look, a green person!" (I guess it would help to add at this point that I wore a green shirt and skirt today). Everyone laughs, and the previous conversation is recounted to the new woman as they intermittantly shove the terrified child towards me and she screams.
1130: I return tot he clinic via the small shops which sell sugar, matches, candles, cooking oil, and cookies. I see some of my favorite kids, who are sad taht I won't shake their mango-pu.lp-ridden hands when I greet them. Mango season has just begun here. You can't walk by a mango tree without spotting a child up the tree in search of the perfect mango.. or being hit by a mango pit or stone as children throw them into the tree to knock the not-quite-ripe mangoes down.
1135:Back at the clinic I sit down to write 15 identical notes called "bushnotes" which will be delivered to the recipients by passing them from one person to another int eh direction towards their home. The average time for a delivery 10km away is 3-5 days. These particular notes invide an HIV/AIDS group to a meeting about income generating activiteis and to show them their new sewing machine that I recently bought in town (thanks New Hope friends and family!). I thne ask the same nurse from earlier whether or not my funds were approved to train a group of teenagers to run a Youth Friendly Corner where they would be peer educators about sex-ed and STIs (formerly known as STDs). I am told that I need to wait another month becuase the funds I wanted (not much at all... $30ish for a week-long training) will be used to purchase a second goat for world AIDS day. Oh! And World AIDS day will be celebrated a week late due to poor planning (not surprising.. AT ALL!)
1200: I say my last goodbyes to teh transferred nurse and she invites me to visit her in Ndola sometime. I say yes, and wonder when I will take the 4day journey across the country. Then I walk home in the heat. Its supposed to be the rainy season here already, but it hasnt rained in 3 weeks. The sun is blazing and there isnt a time when I am not sweating... even in the shower and as I sleep. Please, rain, come back soon and cool this place off!
1230: I cant bring myself to start a fire for lunch so I mix up some powdered milk and eat muesli (my big purchase in Lusaka) for lunch.
1245: The 10 year old girl next door, Miso, comes over to chat. I teach her how to make friendshiop bracelets and we talk about the different animals in America and Zambia.
1400: Its too hot. I surrender tot he heat and take a nap in my hut.
1545: I wake-up, start the brasier and warm water to bathe. After my bucket bath I cook some green beans I bought in town the other day and eat them in my kitchen while chatting with people who pass by.
1700: My headman comes by to chat... but really to tell me every detail of his stomache illness (don't worry, I'll spare you the details)... people still think I am a doctor! Then he compares Livingstone (where I have just been) to America (where he has never been).
1800: Now it is dusk and all of the girls are returning from teh borehole with water to cook their dinner. I will write a few letters, read, and text some other PCVs before going to bed around 20 hrs.

There is no such thing as a set schedule in the village, nor a "typical day", but I guess this is pretty average. I hope this helsp all of you who have been asking!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

... and then I got Malaria

First of all, sorry for not updating, I know some of you are a bit angry!
The past few months I had a seminar in Lusaka and spent Thanksgiving in Livingstone with all of my volunteer friends from my district (PCVs and VSOs). It was a blast, we went to visit our friend you used to volunteer in Lundazi, but moved down to Livingstone. We had a feast, hung out, and hitched in the sleeper cab of a semi (the best hitch I have ever had!)
As far as work goes, there are some kind folks back home who wanted to help in some way with the work I am doing here. After much thought I decided that the most sustainable use for their donations would be to purchase a sewing machine and textile inputs for a small business. The business will be owned by a group of people who all work with HIV in my area. They are people living with HIV, home-based care givers, and orphan care givers. If all goes well, they will be sewing and selling school uniforms, school bags, purses, you name it! Ill keep you updated on the prospects folks! Anyway, the sewing machine has been purchased and is waiting to be transported the 30km from town. Next step: the kind students of my hometown will be working on a humanitarian project regarding microfinance and their practical application will be funding this particular microfinance activity. I'm excited for all the adventure and ups and downs that this project will surely bring! It is my biggest project yet!
When I was sitting in my hut, I wasn't sure what else I would write about, and thought that this would be a really boring blog entry... and then I got Malaria. In the end, my one piece of advice is: DON'T GET MALARIA! It was aweful, I thought I was dying! At 330am in my hut I had to prick my finger and make a blood slide to send to Lusaka. Then at 530 am I wobbled out of my house and spoke few words in Tumbuka to relay the message that I needed a vehicle to pick me up and take me to town as I couldn't walk much past my own latrine, let alone to the clinic to arrange my own transport or call town to arrange it! Two kind men from my village ran to the clinic, found a mini bus (that usually isnt working.. so i was very lucky). It came back, picked me up from my front door (where I was lying on the concrete floor...suffering) and took me to town. In town I stayed with my VSO friends and worked on keeping food down, lowering my 104 fever, and trying to have coherent thought. When these 3 things were accomplished and I was still feeling aweful, I got on a bus at 3am to travel 5 hours to Chipata where there is a PC House. From here I rested and recuperated and am feeling much better. I will survive! Thanks for everyone who has been thinking of me and contacting me to let me know so.
Now I begin a week long workshop for counterparts in Chipata, and then Im off on Christmas vacation! Woo hoo!