Saturday, February 25, 2012

Volunteer Nurse Appreciated

It was wonderful to have Susan from Woodstock, Illinois with us for a month during which she worked at Kakulu Rural Health Center, the clinic in our Zambian community. She contributed a great deal to the community during that time and we appreciate all that she did. Susan is seen here with the hard-working front line staff of the clinic.

Monday, September 19, 2011

On-line Donations

We are pleased to advise that on-line donations to the Foundation can now be made through Virgin Money Giving. Whilst this is primarily relative to UK donors it can be used by anyone from around the world. That being said related tax credits (e.g. Canada and USA) would not apply though this sytem.

Note that eligible UK donaors can opt for Gift Aid which will provide an additional 25% of your donation to the benefit of SPF.

We will appreciate any money that you can give to our many projects which are listed on the VMG page. A little amount goes a long way in Africa.

Make a donation via Virgin Money Giving

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Zambia - Special Gift

Members of the Shumba Team in June decided to buy Costain, the head teacher at Chilunga Community School, a bicycle in recognition of all the hard work that he does for the community. Today he received it – a sturdy Buffalo bicycle made by World Bicycle Relief especially for Zambian conditions.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Pancakes and Accolades

It is always gratifying to read what others have to say about the work that we are doing in Zambia and for encouraging others to support us. Alyssa is a very special young Canadian woman who recently stopped in for a visit during her hitch-hiking and biking tour of Africa – all on her own !

She also cooked us a wonderful pancake breakfast – a delicious treat !

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Connected - At Last !

My new best friend – the satellite dish that enables me to communicate in high speed with the outside world from the farm in Zambia. The technology still boggles the mind – signal goes from my laptop, through the dish to a satellite 30,000 km above the earth, then back down to the hub just outside London, UK then to whoever I am communicating with. Of course the signal goes in reverse when a communication is coming into me. Gordon

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Fresh Chicken for Supper

Still no solution for high speed Internet connection so it has been another couple of weeks since I was able to do a posting. Things have continued to go well and I have been having a busy and productive time. Apart from daily work for the farm I have been taking our English friend, Ann, to visit different aspects of the SPF project.

One of the highlights was a visit to the Chilunga area - another section of the community. It is across the Mulungushi river which bi-sects the community and the river is running too deep at the moment to cross in a vehicle. So we had to park at the river, cross on a wooden foot bridge made from poles cut from the bush and then walk the 4 km to the school which is the focal point of the community. The school is a community school which caters for children on that side of the river from Grade 1 to 7. There was only one teacher (out of 4) with a small class of about 12 kids in session so we sat in on the lesson. Apparently a lot of kids - and the other teachers - were unable to get to school that morning as there had been a heavy storm during the night and other rivers in the area were flooded. Anyway it was good to see the place again and we enjoyed the walk there and back in the sunshine. On our way back, at a village near the river, we were presented with a live chicken - to be taken home to eat ! Ann was thrilled and got to carry it under her arm back to the car !

We also visited some of the people that have benefitted from the micro loan fund - always good to see how they are doing with their small businesses or farming as a result of being able to borrow money to get started. That evening we had supper with Banda and Tsitsi who had cooked the chicken we had been given - it was very tasty with the sadza/nshima !

Ann flew out of Ndola on Sunday January 30 to head back to UK. She thoroughly enjoyed her stay in Zambia as a whole and particularly at Kakulu. She is sure that she will be back sometime in the near future to do some actual project work with SPF. It will be great to have her as part of our UK "team".

Three young men - Kody, Ryan and BJ - arrived safely from Canada today. It is great to see them here and the community is going to be very excited to see them moving around exploring everything and inter-acting with the people. They are here for most of February so it will be a busy time.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Zambia - January 19

My first couple of weeks in Zambia have gone well overall. I spent a few days in Lusaka as I had several things to get done there. It was quite tough getting adjusted to the time change and the weather change - such a contrast coming from minus 20C and snow in Canada to plus 28C and rain in Zambia.

I was very glad to leave Lusaka and get to Kakulu on Thursday January 6. Great to be back in the community and to my final destination, after the last few weeks of intensity in preparing for the move here. The farm is very quiet and peaceful so I am lucky to have such a nice place to live.

I have been settling into the new routine and starting the work that I need to get done. Mike is very pleased to have me here and is already keeping me busy with many tasks. The crops are looking great and everything in full swing with the tobacco harvest under way and ongoing maintenance on the maize (corn).

I have been able to spend a bit of time in the community catching up with a few people and starting to asses what the immediate priorities are for SPF. As usual I have spent quite a bit of time with Pastor Justin who has brought me up to date on a number of issues. I will give more details of things as I get to visit places and people to see myself what's going on.

So far I have visited the clinic and Sungula school. Ednah has been transferred to another clinic in the region and a new sister-in-charge has been brought in. She was actually here before, in 2006 standing in for Ednah during her long leave, so is familiar with the community. Things are ticking along okay at the clinic - nothing major to report and I've got a list of a few things to consider for us to work on.

At the school I found that Kirby has been replaced as head teacher. (Kirby and Stella are still living at the school - she is still teaching there and the Ministry of Education is trying to find a placement for him although he is keen to retire he tells me.) The new head teacher seems to be good although we only had a short meeting this first time round. We had a quick tour of the school grounds. They have got to roof-level on another teacher house - similar to the one SPF/Taylor built in 2008 - this new one funded by the government. No other major developments at the school but, again, a few items on the list to consider for future work.

Ann Hendry is the niece of a good friend of ours and recently graduated from university in England with a degree in Environmental Science. She spent a couple of months in Kitwe - a city North of here - at the end of 2010 on a student exchange program. During that time she did a research project on the effects of the copper mining activities on the water quality of the rivers in that area. After going to South Africa for the Christmas holidays she came back to Zambia to spend a couple of weeks with us to learn about SPF work in the community. She is interested in doing what she can to help the Foundation once she goes back to UK.

As predicted in my last posting Internet access is very sporadic so further updates will be done as the opportunity allows. Even e-mail is a struggle so I will respond to messages as quickly as I can. We are working on some other options to improve Internet access at the farm so hopefully something will come about soon.

Cheers, Gordon

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year 2011

My trip from Canada to Zambia went well. Thanks to Milt for driving me down to Calgary on Thursday December 30 and dropping me at the airport. Although I had a few hours to wait until flight time it was good to relax after the past several weeks of hectic activity as I packed up and prepared to leave. Also a chance to make a few last minute phone calls to some people. The flight left on time at 8:30 pm and was full, but it went smoothly and I was able to get 2-3 hours of sleep on and off.

We arrived at London Heathrow at Noon their time on Friday. Fortunately I only had 5 hours to wait for the next flight and didn’t have to change terminals. It would have been nice to get out of the building for some fresh air but it was foggy and rainy so I didn’t bother with all the formalities of having to check out through immigration and then back in. As it was I did a lot of walking in the terminal to stretch the body out, in between making calls to a few people in the UK to catch up with them and wish them a happy new year. Also had pint of English beer for old time sake – and to celebrate new year in Hong Kong at that particular time !

The flight for Lusaka left on time at 6:30 p.m. – this time the flight only at about 70% full. Initially I was in an aisle seat next to another person on one side of the plane – a Boeing 767 so just two seats next to the window. I then moved across to the middle row of three seats as they were all open and thought that I would be able to stretch right out for a sleep. About 30 minutes after take-off the flight director came to me and asked if I would mind moving up to Executive/Club Class – she wanted to give the row of three seats to a woman with a small boy as they only had two seats. What a question – I couldn’t move fast enough ! There were only 7 people in total in that section so I got two seats to myself – what a blessing having the extra space with a foot rest and further tilt of the seat, as well as fancy headphones ! The food was no different to what was served to the “back” but more enjoyable in the comfort. After dinner I slept for a couple of hours. I happened to wake up just before mid-night UK time and was given a (real) glass of champagne to welcome the new year in – along with a few others who were awake in executive class. (Nothing much happened back in economy class as the lights were off and most people were sleeping !) So although nothing spectacular it was still fun to bid 2010 farewell and spend a bit of time wondering what 2011 has in store for me.

I only managed to doze for another couple of hours before we landed in Lusaka right on time at 6:30 a.m. local time – 9 hours time difference to Alberta so I had been on the go for 36 hours ! No problems getting through formalities and Chris Rogers was there to meet me. We went to his place for a great egg and bacon breakfast and a decent cup of tea before he dropped me off at Bob and Mary’s house. (They are away in the USA on furlough until end of January so I have the place to myself. Well except that they left their little dog, Nick, so I have a bit of company.) I took a bit of time to do some unpacking then had a much-needed shower followed by a snooze for a couple of hours. Then ventured out in the vehicle – no problem getting back to driving on the left had side of the road ! – to do some grocery shopping. The traffic was relatively light being a public holiday and the two malls I visited were not too crowded so it went well.

Most of the day has been cloudy with some signs – including thunder – of rain but nothing materialised here. It was 25C when we landed this morning and was up to 31C by the afternoon when I went out. Now, early evening, it has cooled off to 23C – which is actually very pleasant since there is a cool breeze blowing. As I write there are the bangs of fireworks going off around the neighbourhood – people obviously still celebrating new year tonight !

As I commented on Facebook yesterday (and many times before), flying always amazes me. That 200-300 people can get inside a metal cylinder, get off the ground, cruise through the air to half-way round the world, and then land on the ground again is always a miracle to me ! When I am up at 35,000 feet with just the throb of the engines outside, it seems so surreal to me.

Anyway I hope that you had a great new year celebration wherever you happened to be. In case you don’t already have it my Zambian mobile number is (260) 976-198-207 if you need to get hold of me by voice or by text message. (260 is the Zambia country code).

As usual, access to the Internet is going to be sporadic. E-mailing should be no problem on a regular basis with a cellular Internet stick but access to the web to do blog and FB updates will have to wait until I am in a town and can connect to high speed.

Cheers, Gordon

Friday, November 12, 2010

SPF Supporter - Elaine Duchesne

Over the past 3 years, Elaine Duchesne from Stony Plain has joined us in encouraging the Kukulu community. Elaine's main focus has been in working with the women.

Some days have found her painting toe nails under a tree with about 100 other women who wanted their nails painted. Other times, she has engaged in deep conversation about life in general or many questions about the differences between Canada and Africa.

She has contributed to Sunday morning worship services as she has shared and provided music for the service. Elaine plays guitar and piano and sings - so she can adapt to almost anything.

This past year, she gathered children together to learn some fun songs on a hot April morning - the children loved it as they learned new songs with the Mazungu (white person).

When she returns to Canada - she starts making plans for the next trip. At this time, that will be returning in 2012 and is encouraging others to join her !

Thanks Elaine for your wonderful contribution to our efforts to "empower people in community" - you are much appreciated. Everyone looks forward to your next visit to Kakulu.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Halloween Excess

Halloween .... the next spending frenzy is in progress. It is estimated that $ 1.5 billion (that's $ 1,500 million) is spent on Halloween just in Canada - for candy, costumes and pumpkins ! At SPF we need $ 360 a year to support one African orphan or $ 800 a year to provide high school education for an African girl ....