Friday, August 7, 2009

Awakening to change

Upon awakening I was at once overwhelmed with feelings of confusion, and weariness. A wayward soul exposed to a new reality, a waking one. For this morning my work placement is finished. The last three months were spent locked in a deep trance of obsession and unflinching focus on my project - the BSF programme.

Were the eleven to twelve hour, sometimes longer, work days worth it? As I awoke this morning it was as though a grand dream had ended, the dream of working in development. The active scenes of Mapalo peel away as if they existed only as essential elements for work; shades of some dream world. Now they become stagnant, static. The memories are no longer dynamic and changing; after Wednesday's training meeting there will be no further memories built. I will not visit this community again sometime - no provision to travel there one last time for work.

Work consumed most of my time with an insatiable lust. Now that it is complete I feel both liberated and thirsty - even upon delivering deliverables the project will go on. Life will continue in Mapalo..., Change will need to be pushed forward. Learning will need to continue. Personally, in organizations, and in communities. The dream of working there in Mapalo is through. I woke up. I wont directly bear witness to how the stories of Joyce at the RDC or the SHIP workers will continue. Change will have to be shared over emails and phone calls. What fruit will grow from the SEEDS I have sewn over the last three months? Or are the seeds failed and futile?

The surreal notion of leaving Ndola..., leaving Twapia is a cruel and biting reality. On Sunday I will travel to Lusaka, and then to Northern Province for a long overdue village stay - a critical component of the JF experience. I am at once excited to see life in Zambia through the rural lens, but I am also wondering what critical learning’s about Peri Urban life and the struggles within still are waiting to be plucked?

"You are counting down" - as with many of the words shared with me by Tauzen, a coworker of mine, they are very true. Since the fifth of June I have been counting down. Three months is not a great amount of time to achieve impact - especially when impact is contingent on the abilities of the individual and how that individual interacts in their environment..., less so contingent on time. One countdown ends today, the other on Sunday. I wish there was a way to shatter the hour glass and extend this dream indefinitely, to go back once more to work within Mapalo, to live in Twapia with the Bala family. Such circumstances reoccurring are unknown- will I ever walk through the paths of Twapia again?

The Bala family reminds me daily of my departure as well. “Trust is crying” says Carol, my mother in Twapia. Trust is her youngest child; he is a school student who today seems quite discouraged by the looming departure of the musungu. He sheds tears over my departure – they grow my guilt even more. I must endeavor to keep these bonds strong – even from Canada, whatever it takes to do so.

However, a further rude awakening awaits in Canada – the return to a world that has become such a surreal notion amidst the red huts of Twapia and the mini busses and the Nshima meals and the Zambian friends and the howling hounds of Twapia/Ndola/Mapalo and the zealous evangelism of Zambians and the gospel music of motor coach rides and the pit latrines and family struggles of not having ten dollars to pay for school where as in Canada people will carelessly pay ten dollars for a cup of coffee.

The village – my destination in Northern Province lies near Kasama, the heart of Bemba Land. Cherie, our Junior Fellow from last year, lived in this village for some of her time in Zambia. Journeying amidst the wheat yellow coloured scenery of Zambia for many more hours will too be a new experience. Throughout the placement I have darted between Lusaka and Ndola many times - I’ve drifted through the Copperbelt to Kitwe, and dined in Central province in Kabwe. Solwezi in Norther Province was never reached, but Tony and I did set foot on Northern Province soil. Lusaka Province and Eastern Province were seen through trips to and from Malawi. Southern Province was briefly watched through the window of a dangerous motor coach ride on one trip to Livingstone. Northern Province is up next- what waits in the villages up north?

Experiencing peri urban life has presented me with many ideas, situations, and experiences so far outside of the scope of anything Canadian. Yet there is a whole other aspect of Zambia to explore – rural life. What challenges are similar between peri urban and rural? What of the opportunities for those who live in the village – how do they compare? What are the dreams of villagers? What are their stories, their hopes, their struggles? What is their poverty – how does it exist and manifest its self? What does development mean in a rural context?

Each question will be a mini awakening – new ideas and thoughts as perspectives grow in a new environment. Ignorance is all I have when it comes to my perspective on rural life – case studies have been read as have stories – the chance to see what it means to be a villager is a meaningful one. Perhaps I am greedy and opportunistic to jump on it? I feel that in order to share this Junior Fellow Placement, development, and life in Zambia the lens rendered by this village stay experience, even if it is a short one, will be essential.

Yet even so I wish I could stay in Twapia for much longer; to see life through the seasons and all the joys and struggles within. The last few months have just been a snap shot of life, a small instance amongst a grand tapestry of happenings and the human experience. Yet even so it has awoken me to the changes that can occur in the household, in the community, and in individuals as a result of outsider involvement - in development terms and in the sense of being a new family member. For all the lessons I have taken from Twapia I can only hope I have left something behind.

Time is precious. Life drifts in and drifts away just as waves on the shore of lake Malawi. Time is the current of life - drawing us all towards or away from wherever it is we are or will be - waves causing us to drift through months and seasons and days and other synthetic divisions of the human experience. Time.

Upon arriving in Northern province yet another awakening will occur – at once able to be aware to the rural experience and all the stories contained within. Fare well Ndola! Farewell Twapia! Musali Bwino.

1 comment:

  1. What does "Musali Bwino" mean??
    -good luck w/ the village stay! :)