Visiting Schools in the Bush

Visiting Schools in the Bush

The day began with a drive out by the Malawi border. We visited Kaponga Hills — a school I have visited twice before. The school built houses for government teachers and now they have one teacher from the government as well as Mr. Mtonga (who has been at the school many years) and a new volunteer teacher. The government teacher was teaching an English lesson right out of the government curriculum and Mr. Mtonga was teaching a lesson on fractions. I was encouraged that Mr. Mtonga was teaching two grades the same lesson instead of having one sit and wait while teaching the other.

govt teacherThe new teacher, government teacher, and Mr. Mtonga pose in front of the school.




Our next school was a school I have visited every year, Lobi. This village is located across a little stream. Last year there were fire ants on the other side that we had to jump across. I was relieved the fire ant were no longer there but still not thrilled to cross on some unstable boards and logs. There were two new teachers teaching when we arrived. The one teacher was teaching the same exact English lesson the government teacher had been teaching at the previous school. I guess there is a pacing schedule even in Zambia that teachers feel obligated to follow. I asked about the teacher I know, Moses, and someone said he would not be teaching until the afternoon but they were happy to get him. As we waited we were greeted by many people from the village. One man, who is Kondwani’s niece’s husband stopped by and offered to have Rebecca marry his son. I told him since I am like her mother (Tacoma mother) he would have to go through me and pay 1000 cattle for her. He said the price was too high but I reminded him that yes, it was high but she was very precious.

rebecca father in lawRebecca is not very impressed with her potential future father-in-law.




We continued joking for a while only to discover that Moses was not available so we returned to the stream and then to the car.

trek across streamOur trek across the stream.





After returning back to our guest house Rebecca and I took a walk to the store to get some water and peanut butter. She decided she would carry the water on her head (using both hands). On the way a boy stopped her and asked her “What do you call ‘carrying it on your head?” She replied, “What do I call it? Carrying it on my head” Rebecca spent the afternoon getting a tour around town with our friend Rev. Gerald Phiri — I will let her tell her story:

Walking around with Gerald was definitely one of my favorite experiences thus far. He knows so many people in town and they were all so kind to me. They were welcoming and careful to explain things I might not understand. We walked through the marketplace, where we found one of Gerald’s friends selling a clay-like substance in little baggies. I asked Gerald what it was and he said “OH!  Chocolate!” Everyone around him started laughing and I quickly realized I was being fooled. Apparently it was some sort of clay they use for shining their floors. This was the moment I decided I could consider Gerald a true friend as he was comfortable joking with me :). He also tried to convince me later to take a sip of “milk”. Luckily I knew this was yet another prank as Bob and Machelle had warned me that beer is sold in a container that looks like our milk containers. He was not able to pull another fast one on me!

During this tour, I also got my second marriage proposal of the day. Yes, of the day. I am getting so much more action here than in the US! There were some men playing a chess-like game and I stopped to chat with them while Gerald was talking to some friends nearby. Apparently one of the men (speaking Tumbuka) said if he won the game, he should get to take me as his bride. They all laughed and a friend of Gerald’s ran over to translate for me. Don’t worry, Mom and Jeff, I told them you don’t have room for all those cows in your backyard.  Machelle seems to think I should be worth lots of cattle. 

While Rebecca was receiving the second potential marriage proposal I visited Chisefu a presbyterian seminary way out in the bush, with Nancy and Dr. Chilenji. The seminary was started by Scottish missionaries and two of the brick buildings built in the 30s are still standing.  It has quite an interesting history which Dr. Chilenji is always eager to share. The school has big plans to expand. Currently someone is taking a 9 month training in Japan to learn all about organic gardening in hopes of not only teaching organic gardening and having a college of agriculture but having demonstration plots on the mass acreage of the seminary. They also hope to expand and have a college of education, and nursing. 

presbyterian churchPresbyterian church built in 1935.





solar study lightThe last stop on our tour was the the “men’s hostel” where the seminary students were each given a solar “study light”.




As the sun was setting we continued on to greet and hand some things off to a pastor (a nephew of Dr. Chilenji’s). We drove quite a ways to his home only to find out he was not home but at a presbytery meeting. Again we drove quite a ways to a small village where the meeting was taking place. We took a wrong turn and finally had to ask about the presbytery meeting.  We were led to a house and invited in. We were introduced and then everyone else had to introduce themselves. It took some time before we were back on the road. We finally arrived back at the guest house at 7:30. Rebecca had ordered dinner for us. She, Kondwani, and Gerald had already finished by the time we returned. Rebecca and I were grateful to finally get to bed.

african landscapeOne of many sunsets over the African landscape.