Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Can't Fake Time

Not long ago, I was asked by Melissa Lefas - "what is different about the way you make decisions now that you've spent so much time in one community?"

My answer was fairly simple - "I want to stick up for them" 

Unfortunately in my first year in Zambia, the combination of circumstances never allowed me to feel settled in.  I was always just about to move to another place.

Luckily, this year, I was able to spend 4 uninterupted months in my little community inNorth-Western Zambia.

My very cozy home since December.

Never again will I be the same.  When someone speaks about beneficiaries, my mind will cycle through the experiences I have shared in my community.  There wont be an abstract image of someone in a photo, or in a video.  And it wont be about a person I met once when I visited a village.  It will be about my friends, about the people who stuck up for me when I was sick, people who sincerely appreciated my efforts and who are always happy to see me.

One of my friends has helped to teach me the local language.  After months of hanging out, I finally went to visit his home and got to meet his family.  

They are very humble.  In a year they earn about $700 - they stretch every penny, even so much so that this year he purchased "iron sheets" which are the key ingredient to a modern home but cost $240.  But with tight budgeting and a reliable income, he made it happen.

After sitting in his house chatting, his wife arrived and was thrilled that I was able to visit their home.  They explained how this house was going to be given to the oldest child in 5 years and they would live in the new house for now while collecting about $6 a month for renting this one out.

As I left, Charles loaded me up with some corn from his garden - ensuring I only got the best ones - then he handed me 10 pin ($2) so I could buy a drink because he said there was no way I could visit his home without a drink.  

This two dollars represents a third of what his family will make from renting their house for a month.

That was it.  My heart, sole and mind will forever be attached to this community.  

Is there a shortcut to feeling nostalgic?


A Team

After a year and a half of being on a team, I realized that just maybe I wasn't really giving back to the team. It was a difficult realization because I consider myself a bit of a team player and maybe even a bit of a leader.  So why didnt I feel I could help lead this particular team?  

I guess the important thing is that I now want to make the most of it and be a strong team player.