Greetings dear readers,
My name is Cedric. I am no writer and this will be my first blog, but despite this lack of experience, I am very keen to be your guide for this final chapter of our journey.
While Hellen already covered the holiday weekend in South Luangwa during our last blog, I’d like to take a minute to backtrack to this amazing experience, as this national park is not for nothing the most recommended and known national park in Zambia. The animals were completely at ease during our stay and were even so kind as to pose for my camera.
Our guide, Moses, was our prophet in this experience, as he parted the metaphorical seas of time (searching for the animals) with his witty and funny commentary. More importantly, he taught me how to recognize an African Elephant (in comparison to other elephants, obviously) by the shape of their ears.
“The ears have the shape of the continent. Coincidence? I think not.”
During our stay in South Luangwa we resided in the Marula Lodge, which was located in a game management area. Because of this, wild animals could walk into the camp at any given time, which kept us on our toes and helped to wake us for breakfast. Usually the intruders were elephants, monkeys or impalas, but there was the occasional hippo that came to visit.
When we were not visiting animals (or they were visiting us), we took our time to share stories and experiences with the people around us. For instance, I learned that the owners of the Lodge raised a library for the local community or that Skippy, the elephant, had caressed Meghan (A traveler from Canada) gently with his trunk while she was showering. We also met someone from Belgium, who told us stories of an orchestra of extremely talented African musicians, that had learned to play solely through the help of Youtube.
After recharging our batteries, it was time to get back to work. While we had been experiencing the fauna and flora in South Luangwa, the sand for our installation had been getting cleaned by running water through it. Or at least, that’s what was supposed to happen, but during our trip the metal support structure had collapsed and bent under the heavy loads of sand and water.
Our welder, Mr. Chiconde, fixed the problem with additional support beams, but we were faced with even more problems. A few of the valves had also broken, some of the pipes were leaking and the mechanism that added chlorine after the sand filter didn’t work out.
Obviously, we remained calm and collected at this dire news and thought of solutions to our problems. The pipes and valves could be repaired, but the chlorinator had to be replaced.
On the final school day for the children of Zambia (They extended the term by two extra weeks, due to the Cholera Outbreak), we explained our project (With the solutions to our problems) to the students with the help of a poster that I had made. Their semester ended with a theatrical play and lots of music and dancing. (Take note belgian schools)
With our last weekend in Zambia fast approaching, our coach Tom didn’t want us to leave without seeing the Victoria Falls, so having fixed all our previous problems we travelled to Livingstone.
The first day, we visited a museum about evolution, Zambian history and David Livingstone. Which is not as strange a combination as you might expect.
In the evening, we ate crocodile ribs with father Tembo. Having never eaten crocodile meat before, I can now say that it has a very unique, but delicious taste somewhere between fish and meat.
The second day we went to see the falls at sunrise, which gave us the opportunity to fully enjoy the day. On bare feet we passed the slippery rocks, while the water was crashing down and exploding upon impact with the water below. With water misting into the air from the sheer drop, we learned why the indigenous name of the falls is Mosi-oa-Tunya, meaning “The smoke that Thunders”.
Truly a breathtaking and thrilling experience.
After Livingstone we still had 5 days before returning to Belgium, which we spent fixing the last problems and ensuring that the project continues well into the future.
And with that, Kanyama Primary School now has its very own Water Purification Unit and our story in Zambia came to an end.
This project is one that we couldn’t have done by ourselves and we’d like to thank all the people that have helped us, guided us, or even shared their stories during these two months. And we certainly want to thank the following people for their contributions:
- Mr. Lupia, one of the most joyful and hard-working teachers, who was always there for us. Even into the long working nights he remained by our side.
- Mrs. Bushé, who was very involved and enthusiastic about the project and was always there to help.
- Phiri, our plumber, who did a great job on the concrete structure.
- Our two experienced welders for the project who helped make our project a reality:
Mr. Chiconde who made the metal support structure of the sand filter and Mr. Zulu who fixed the metal pipe and made a metal lit.
- Kazuma Plastics, who were very happy to help us and helped weld two plastic tanks together with no extra cost, giving birth to our slow sand filter tank.
- Dayliff for coming to install a new chlorinator when the old one broke. (On a Sunday night of all times)
- Envaros our partner organisation, who had started the project with Evans Tembo.
- The Envaros Employees: Queen, Precious, Eric, Andrew and Joseph, whom we worked closely together with for the past weeks.
- The Children of Kanyama who were always there to be curious, play or help the project. Sieving the sand became a very fun experience with their help.
- And we’d like to thank so many other people as well. Most notably the friends that we made in the canteen and our hostel in Chainama College.
I cannot speak for the others of my team, but I know that I will carry the experiences and stories of this project with me to new projects. This experience may not have been kind to me in the beginning, but I feel it has changed me for the better.
As it goes in so many projects: It’s not about what we achieve individually, but what we achieve together. Or as the Zambian proverb says: “When you run alone, you run fast. When you run together, you run far.”