Tuesday, May 18, 2010



After 2 years of doing my thing in Zambia, my Dad decided it was time to see what exactly that thing was. We coordinated with Sandra, a big supporter of EWB, so that they could get the same tour of Zambia. Sandra brought along her Dad, Herb, and my Dad didn't come alone either, he brought a fellow Rotarian, Peter.

The Four of them met some of the EWB folks in Lusaka.

Then off we went to the bush. Here we're standing with Rowland, Rent-to-Own's first full time employee. The two most popular observations on the drive were - "there's a lot of people on the road" and "look at that goat!"

Mwinilunga. After arriving in the night, the group woke up to watch the fog lift off the river. Kwakuwahi Lodge.

Before everyone was too comfortable at the lodge, Chiko wanted them to come and meet one of the Rent-to-Own clients. What they saw was a bull becoming an oxen.

Then we were off to the village. But before you can bring visitors to the village, the chief has to welcome you. Here we are being introduced to the customs and rituals before meeting Senior Chief Kanong'esha.

It was really interesting. The Senior Chief was extremely happy, he'd never had visitors direct from Canada before. He really took to Sandra, it was probably a new experience for him to meet a women who was so successful at business and engineering, but he took it in stride and we had a great visit.

Afterwards we had a chance to get a photo together. He's such a good guy. He gave my Dad a traditional bow and arrow, Sandra was given a live chicken, and Herb received a hand-woven basket.

The next day I got sick and left them to discover Mwinilunga with the help of Mr. Matulu (my host father) and Mr. Chris Nawej (the manager of Forest Fruits). The honey factory is super busy this year, running 16 hours a day trying to keep up with the biggest harvest on record.

Here's my Dad standing in my old place. That was my room for 8 months - the roof definitely is going downhill. The visitors were greeted in proper Zambian fashion, it was a shame I missed that visit.

My favourite meal was served too.

Mr. Matulu is building a new house. This is his daughter Rachel standing where a window will soon be.

Chiko was a big help, organized the village stay and much more.

After another 12 hour ride, we were back in Lusaka to meet Dan. He interrupted his vacation in South Africa to come see Sandra and my Dad for a day. At the end of it, I believe there was a new partnership formed between Jordan Engineering and Forest Fruits.

I sent my Dad and Peter to Livingstone so I could actually do some work. They blew some money, saw some elephants, and walked around Victoria Falls. I bought and shipped off our first large truck of equipment off to the bush (some $15,000 worth)

Finally the last leg of the trip. We set off for Lake Malawi for a days rest.

The trip made me realize a few things.

First, life is easy when you have money and a nice vehicle. Zambia is a completely different country via public transit. I would guess that 99% of visitors have no idea how tough it is to move around and get anything accomplished here. 12 days is a start, but it takes months of trying to understand, of living in a village, of taking public transit, of talking to various Zambians, to actually get it.

Second, stories from Grandpa are probably the most under valued pieces of information in Canada. Herb sat with one of the Forest Fruits managers (Evans) for about 30 minutes, telling him how they didn't have electricity, running water, or even roads, when he grew up in Newfoundland. These stories are forgotten in Canada, and they're entirely unknown to a continent that is currently going through similar hardships. It completes the story of Canada, without them, there is no appreciation for what has been accomplished, and there is no sense of the path to take for millions of Africans.

Third, handouts are a natural reaction to poverty. We had a big discussion about the effect of giving something for free. Imagine you've worked hard your whole life, have made a comfortable living, and you see people experiencing harsh poverty...so you give them a bit of cash to take the edge off for a while. Maybe that means a nicer meal, some new clothes, a few drinks, whatever. Whats the harm? Does it create dependency? I think the important thing is to know what the results are when you're giving money. One person walking through a village giving money out is hardly systemic. But an organization with millions of dollars working in thousands of villages across Zambia, thats what creates dependency. Thats what destroys peoples natural feeling of ownership over their destiny.

Huge thanks to my guests. They were fun, kind, polite, and open minded throughout the trip.