Saturday, October 10, 2009

Digging Deep

Just one week and it feels like I've been knocked down half a dozen times.

Last week I learned that a great guy I had met died in a car accident. Ryan grew up in Zambia, went to Australia for school and spent a few years in Scotland until he heard his dad died in March. Then he moved back to Zambia to begin the process of taking over the family business (an impressive commercial farm). So when I called his number, I was surprised to hear his grandfather answer the phone and to give me the news. A year ago it was his dad who was to run the company, 2 months ago it was Ryan to run the company, now it’s the grandfather.

Tuesday night I got home and my friend Kennedy, who is normally the happiest guy I know, tells me how his uncle is in jail and how he caught his wife cheating so he beat her…which ended up killing her. Tough and terrible, but the thing is I remember meeting Kennedy just over a year ago, he was sleeping on a dirt floor with just a thin blanket. Kennedy is an orphan and has had a tough life. His only family is his uncle. So when he learned that for $1400 he could post bail,

Kennedy sold everything he had bought and used all his savings to get his uncle out.

Kennedy - we call him popeye

Wednesday, my good friend Rogers didn’t show up for work. His phone was off and I had no idea what was up. The next day he showed up with a dark red eye and some swelling. Around 10pm on his way home he was attacked. People see that Rogers is getting ahead by working hard, so they figure he has money. He has been building a house in a new neighbourhood but its not finished, luckily he has enough money that he can afford to live in a better area and plans on moving as soon as possible.

Thursday, near the end of the day, one of the guys comes running in to say that the carpenter cut his finger off. We are building hives for farmers in lower-zambezi who want to start beekeeping. We figured that a long-term solution was to have local carpenters build the hives and sell them directly, although for now we're kick-starting the whole thing by building a few hundred and by training a couple carpenters at the same time. So the first carpenter we're training failed to stop when his eyes were getting full of sawdust, and next thing you know he was cutting his fingers. Luckily, they're all still attached and he'll be back to normal fairly soon.

The carpentry shop - we're building the roof today

Friday, I get my list of things to do and head into town. On the way, I realize my gas light is coming on. I try the first gas station, they are out of petrol. I try another, and another and another, and all the while I'm running on fumes. The fifth place had fuel, so I was just 30 minutes behind. But it looks like the whole country is running out of fuel and I have no idea when that situation is going to get better. Imagine you cant buy fuel.

Today (Saturday) I get news that the company Zambikes has lost its lead guy. Here's a business that does a ton of good and has been fighting the good fight for the past couple years to make something, and now their lead man dies.

As much as I'd like to share the all good news for the week, because there has been some good stuff, I'll just share one bit of news. My friend Rogers and his wife Cleo had a baby boy on Thursday night. He looks amazing and both mom and baby are healthy.

Only 4 hours old - He's Looking Good

Each time there is bad news or unexpected road blocks along the way, it makes me wonder if I'm going down the right path, and if I want to continue down that path. If Zambia has taught me one thing, its to know how to dig deep and keep on going.


ClapBedon said...

Life can so tough in Africa. I hope you are careful.

I've just (re)discovered your blog and I love it!

Take care buddy,

ps: Thanks for the honey! Hans gave us a stick yesterday.

Elizabeth said...

Hang in there Mark

Krista said...

Hey Mark,

I just read your blog for the first time I feel terrible that you had such a hard week.

I remember seeing you and Chris at the conference last year and being very excited about the work you were doing. And my boss who knows Dan Ball was telling me more about how Forest Fruits started and the work that you guys are doing and I felt really inspired.

I hope focusing on the amazing opportunities that you're helping create will get you through hard weeks like these.


Anonymous said...

sorry to hear about the rough week mark. i hope the waves balance out.



Iva said...

Hi Mark,

I think I saw you once last year when I was in Mwinilunga.
I'm a student researching the social history of the district and whenever I google Mwinilunga your blog pops up.
I really enjoyed reading some of your posts and as I will be returning to Mwinilunga in March, I guess we might run into one another.

All the best,

Brian said...

Hey Mark,

Thanks for sharing this, it's good to hear about both sides (the good and bad) so some of us here in Canada can try to understand what it's like for you and others in Zambia.