Quote

“So that’s my life—or my life before I stopped sleeping—each day pretty much a repetition of the one before. I used to keep a diary, but if I forgot two or three days, I’d lose track of what had happened on which day. Yesterday could have been the day before yesterday, or vice versa. I’d sometimes wonder what kind of life this was. Which is not to say I found it empty. I was—very simply—amazed. At the lack of demarcation between the days. At the fact that I was part of such a life, a life that had swallowed me up so completely. At the fact that my footprints were being blown away before I even had the chance to turn and look at them.”

Haruki Murakami, “Sleep” in The Elephant Vanishes

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TED Talk: The Next Generation of African Architects and Designers

Ok, so last month I shared a rather disheartening vision of growth and development within Zambia and Nigeria, which arguably would also apply to post-colonial states throughout Africa and the world. This month, I’m going to share the opposite. This talk by Rwandan architect Christian Benimana is so incredibly inspiring, and pays homage to other innovators and idealists in Nigeria and Burkina Faso. There is incredible talent in the continent of Africa.

One of the things I enjoyed most about this video was that the projects referenced were so community-based, and didn’t rely on western-centric concepts. I would love to see how my community would respond to the buildings shown in Burkina Faso compared to a western model. Any chance you’d want to come to Ikelenge, Zambia, Francis Kéré?

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Exciting News!

I’m very excited to announce that (after much patient waiting) my grant is online! My friend and fellow PCV Annikki and I are sending 22 men and women from our respective communities to attend a wonderful 5-day agricultural training in Lusaka at the end of July! Mwinilunga and Ikelenge Districts are some of the most disinvested areas in ZambiExciting a, so this training will make a huge, immediate impact in people’s lives.

Unfortunately, Peace Corps Zambia no longer has the funds to support an agricultural grant, so we will be relying on sponsorships and goodwill from our friends and family back home to make this possible! It costs roughly $450 USD to send each person, which is an unfathomable amount in Zambia. Even a relatively small amount of support could go a long way in making a difference in people’s lives.

I’m going to be posting weekly photos of the people who are attending from both mine and Annikki’s communities, and in the mean time please feel free to like/comment/share! I really appreciate it.

Integration is…

  • deciding that, actually, you’ll sit and read outside today.
  • having a three year-old cry because you have to go teach and can’t play right now.
  • learning to give a formal handshake to a passing neighbor on a bike without stoping.
  • sitting with teachers and shooting the breeze without needing to rush home.
  • a “how are you?” text from a friend.
  • making the conscious decision to be present and content in where you are physically and mentally.
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Nshindwa!

Zambia has some pretty dope fruit, specifically Northwestern Province and specifically Ikelenge District if I do say so myself (I mean, we’re the land of the pineapples!). But, some of our best fruits aren’t the deliciously sweet pineapples that come around twice a year, or the mouth watering mangoes that pop up at the beginning of rainy season. Oh no, one of the best fruits you probably haven’t heard of: nshindwa.

Other names for nshindwa are “Seed of Heaven” or “Afromum,” and there are several different varieties all over the African continent. They appear right at the end of rainy season (now!) and come from a plant closely related and resembling to ginger, a plant that I use to gauge soil quality due to its love of acidic soil. To give you an idea of what nshindwa tastes like, there’s a part in The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis where two of the main characters plant a piece of toffee in the ground of the still-forming world of Narnia.

The fruit was delicious; not exactly like toffee – softer for one thing, and juicy – but like fruit which reminded one of toffee.

That is how nshindwa tastes, except with ginger instead of toffee! It was a little weird getting used to when I first tried it, because American ginger products do not have the strong flavor of actual ginger. But now I’m obsessed!

Anyways, here’s a step by step instruction on how to eat nshindwa:

Step One: Locate the Nshindwa

Step Two: Grab That Bad Boy Before the Kids See!

Step 3: Bite to Crack the Shell (Peel? IDK, the Outside Part)

Step 4: Bask in the Glory of those Seeds of Heaven

Step 5: Dig In, But Be Classy About It!

Side Note: I normally don’t look like this! This is my gardening look! Zambians normally bathe twice a day and take a lot of pride in their appearance (when they are not in the fields) and while I’m not nearly that hygienic, I do bathe every day, and try to look nice when I’m not puttering around my house!

I’m wearing my gardening clothes and covered in dirt because I’m currently trying to mulch a termite mound around my house (yes, the huge hill behind me in those photos is not even the top level of a termite mound). Termites also like acidic soil, hence the abundance of nshindwa! Below is a picture of me getting ready to bathe. I look super cute.

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Shuga!!!

What the hell am I up to? Well, I just started a project that I’m very excited about, and have been wanting to do for some time. MTV has been airing a PEPFAR commissioned television program called Shuga. Shuga is stunning in the fact that it showcases the talent of African countries (Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa so far). Any Lupita Nyong’o fans out there? This was her first big role. It is also an incredible public health project, weaving important sexual health information into compelling story-lines. I took a public health class in college where we talked about the massive impact soap operas have on public health campaigns, and I firmly believe that if Zambia had more domestic soap operas our rates of Malaria and HIV would be much lower (ask literally any volunteer in Zambia; I mention it about once every minute).

Anyways, how does this relate to me? Well, my school has electricity, my teachers have televisions, and I have a flash drive. This will hopefully be a winning combination. I just finished transcribing the first season of Shuga into scripts, and tomorrow will start the process of edition my inevitable mistakes and printing out 15-30 copies of each script. The plan is to start a drama club with my local school’s grade 9s, where we do table reads once a week paired with GRS activities. At the end of each month, we will have hopefully finished the episode and can watch it on TV! I’m beyond pumped, which obviously means my expectations are much higher than my ability to successfully pull this off!

By the way, y’all in America should absolutely watch this show! Specifically, the woman who told me I should wear gloves at all times in Zambia to avoid contracting AIDS should watch this show, because she still has a lot to learn about HIV/AIDS. Bless her ignorant little heart. But seriously, the situations in Shuga are in no way limited to the continent of Africa. I personally could relate to specific story arcs within the show, and there are many people in the states who have never had comprehensive sexual education.