My first weeks in Zambia

August 5, 2011 | Sarah, PSY, Shared World, Zambia

I want tell you about a typical day for me in Chazanga, Zambia. Monday through Friday I am working at Bwafwano Community Center. This center was founded in 1996 by Mrs Chola. Since then the center has grown and attracted international donors. Recently, Bwafwano is struggling

because much of its funding has been cut while the needs of the community are rapidly growing. Bwafwano offers many services to people living in Chazanga. They have an OVC department, where children are able to access services which include, but are not limited to education, nutrition and recreation. They have a clinic which provides testing for TB and HIV while also offering treatment. The wonderful thing about this clinic is it is a one stop shop. You pay 50 000K (10 USD) for a testing and you also receive treatment which is covered by the clinic. There is also a peer education program here at Bwafwano which offers open forums to discuss sensitive topic such as HIV with young people in Chazanga. This program is dwindling right now though because of a lack of funding.

We have been assigned to review the OVC program. Overall, we are identifying all the gaps within the program so that we can provide recommendations to Bwafwano. The presence of Shared World Initiative in the community is really powerful. It is clear that SWI is well known at Bwafwano and the impact of its presence here can be witnessed through the friendships and trust. Its very exciting because Bwafwano has been given a large sum of money to spend by the beginning of September. They are really counting on these recommendations so that they do not make similar mistakes to those they have made in the past. If the report they give back to PEPFAR (the donor) is adequate they will receive more funding! Its really nerve racking to be given this kind of responsibility but its also really exciting and invigorating. We have made so much progress this week already! There are 5 of us in total working on this particular project.We call ourselves Team Zuba ( meaning sun in Nyenja)!!

On Tuesdays and Thursdays we play wheel chair basketball at the Youth Olympic Development Center just a 30 minute walk from where we are living. This is an incredible facility and when you enter you don’t really feel like you are in the same country any more. There are teams from all over Africa that play there. We meet up with a team of wheel chair basketball players! I have learned to maneuver a wheelchair and I even scored a point. These guys are really the best and so much fun to play with. Right now they are the best team in Zambia and are hoping to go to the Olympics. The problem is funding isn’t there. The other problem is that they are training on empty stomachs all the time. On Mondays and Wednesdays we have academic workshops which are always very interesting and start up really great discussions.

The weekends are usually left to ourselves. Saturdays we play soccer and Sundays we go to the market. This Sunday is really exciting because I’m going with Harry (one of the wheel chair basketball players) to a Gospel Church! I’ve always wanted to go! Lots of singing and dancing!

Sometimes when I’m walking outside, I get a surreal feeling where I almost feel removed from my surroundings. I’m so excited to be here!

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