December 29, 2003 - Personal Web Site: Peace Corps Volunteer Sara Kluender in Zambia

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Zambia: Peace Corps Zambia : The Peace Corps in Zambia: December 29, 2003 - Personal Web Site: Peace Corps Volunteer Sara Kluender in Zambia

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Peace Corps Volunteer Sara Kluender in Zambia

Peace Corps Volunteer Sara Kluender in Zambia

June 2003

Wow. I think I last wrote about six months ago. Eeehhh. Crazy. So if your time is short let's let it suffice to say that I am well and have continued to enjoy my time in Zambia. I, of course, want to share more than that so when you have time to read the following bits and pieces of life in Zambia, scroll down.

Traditional Medicine
Miu is the young daughter of my friend Herald. She came to visit me the other day and as we sat and talked a dog came up and viciously attacked her. The dog was beat away and I was horrified. She (received) three deep wounds so I ran into my house to get some soap and bandages. When I came back my village mom had already pulled out some of the dog's hair and was burning it over on a hot coal. I assume the hair was burned in an attempt to steralize it. I then washed the wounds with fancy antibacterial soap and then mom stuffed the dog hair in and we covered the whole thing with Johnson and Johnson gauze pad and secured it with tape. For the next three days I stopped by her home to wash the wounds, even though I knew that the traditional medicine was a "time-tested-mother-approved" method and all she really needed.

Mother Nature
A marshall eagle had been frequenting our village and was carrying away its supper of full grown chickens and baby goats. It was becoming a huge problem so, someone killed it. Several children then pulled the dead bird around the village showing off the triumph over nature.

I have been told by more than one person that I have "mukoyo." Wondering what that was I consulted an English speaking friend who laughed. Mukoyo: stubbornness or determination.

Mom and Dad's Visit

We had a fabulous time together and to be honest I don't even know where to begin. Forever engrained in my mind though is my dad standing up in the back up a beat up Land Rover pick-up saying "Far out!" (i.e. Dad's way of saying "cool!") as we drove out to my village.

Watching the two of them watch a chameleon cross the road.

Showing them Mount Kilimanjaro which I had climbed 4 years prior.

We flew in a rented plane over the area in which I live and work. It was so awesome! We saw the fish ponds and some farmers out working in their ponds. We flew so low that we could see the kids' elation as they chased us pointing and hollering. I also never realized how forested the area around me is. It was like a far reaching sea of deep green.

Okay, sorry sorry. I'd like to tell you these stories in more detail but there are several of us needing the computer and daylight is beginning to fade. So I must stop monopolizing this much coveted resource and be short with my stories.

I have been here long enough to see my siblings Maulu (4) and Axson (1) develop social skills. Maulu has made a "best" friend and Axson is talking, running and playing.

I was told that we were at war with Iraq (after the war started) by a villager holding a taped together radio. He told me that I can't go home and must stay forever in Zambia.

One of my fish farmers told me that he wanted to learn how to read and write so that he could keep good records on his fish. "I may not have gone to school but I am going to fish school!" he told me.

I gave one of my female friends a shirt and a pair of trousers, which upon receiving she ran home to change into. She came back with her hair greased and combed and strutted around my yard as though it were a catwalk. She has probably never seen herself in a mirror but she was confident that she looked her best. I guess it just makes me realize how much emphasis we, as Americans, put on looking good. Isn't it more important that a woman feels good and is confident about herself?

I was in my village with two of my good Peace Corps friends, Darin and James. James asked "Do you think that child has kwaashikor (a type of malnutrition)?" The child he was referring to is my neighbor's toddler. I see the child everyday and don't want to think that the child would be malnourished and so, I said I didn't think so. Darin, a health volunteer, said, "Actually, (she is.)" I have evidently become numb to a lot of the realities around me. Which ties nicely into a story that still makes me feel guilty.

I eat each evening with Headman Kiboko and his two wives. One day I knew that I would be gone all day and would come home tired and hungry. So, I asked them to kill one of my chickens, thinking they would also contribute to the meal with some edible weeds. I got home and the only thing on the table was the skinny chicken and a small bowl of nshima for the four of us. I had biked about 50 km and was hungry! I was offered, and ate, more than my share and we all went to bed hungry.

This is, to be honest, an overwhelming task to try and relay to you the multitude of exchanges and impressions of the last six months. However, I have "mukoyo" and will try to write again next time that I am in. Which is actually in about two weeks when I come to pick up my sister Megan and brother-in-law Tim! YEH! Until then, "Mushaale mutende mwane."


Old News To Update You - or Peace Corps Volunteers Like To Have Fun Too!

In May we had a meeting for all of the Rural Aquaculture Project Peace Corps Volunteers. Aside from tossing our boss in the pool, going on a night game drive, petting an elephant and running into the middle of a zebra herd on a morning run, eating incredible food and having salt, pepper, butter and napkins present at every meal, sleeping in a king size bed and using an indoor bathroom, we also learned about beekeeping, propagating rabbits, agroforestry, HIV/AIDS, and shared our successes and failures at post. It was so good to be with everyone that the week flew by all too quickly.


I went on vacation! We went white-water rafting on the mighty Zambezi river (yes we flipped, yes I was afraid-especially since I was under the raft and couldn't see anything-yes there were alligators), ran through the dousing mist of Victoria Falls and danced until 5 a.m.

Then I...

attended a week long HIV/AIDS conference in Kasempa. The conference was really well organized and my counterpart and I went home excited to be working on new, better defined goals.

But before I actually went home I...

attended a memorial tree planting for Beth Bowers. While in Mwinilunga(Beth's Zambian home), I was proposed to 3 times (the last time the dowry consisted of a baboon- more on that later) and passed through part of the Congo on our way to deliver cement (long story). At Beth's site we planted a purple Jacaranda tree and went swimming and climbing at a falls near her home.

So the ride home was interesting...

because it was made with the baboon on my lap and me having to cover her in a chitenge whenever we passed police check points. What!?! Let me explain: Chu Chu the yellow baboon is a female. Her mother was poached and she was sold to the man who made the last marriage proposal. I told him "No" I can not marry you and "No" I didn't want him to change the name of the Beaumont Hotel to the Sara Hotel (he was serious) "But please," I said "can I take Chu Chu?"

So from Mwinilunga to Solwezi Chu Chu chattered, ate, slept and bathroomed on my lap. It was amazing to be so intimate with such a social wild animal. She has finger prints like us, she busts a banana in half before peeling it, she sat on my head grooming me. Amazing. Chu Chu spent one night in Solwezi before we took her to the Chimfunshi Orphanage (with a chimpanzee sanctuary larger than Jane Goodall's in Tanzania). The plan for our 1 month old baby baboon was to keep her until she was 6-7 months old and then release her back into the wild. Since leaving her at the orphanage I hve been to see her twice--wow! how she's grown!

One Year And 2,700 km On My Bike Later (1677 mi) Reflection


... and that's still unusual for oxen, bikers, people on foot and transport drivers who stare and gravitate towards me as we meet and pass on the road.

... and that's scary to most kids who don't know me. They cry and scream thinking Im a ghost.

... and that's okay with most adults who know me and several kids who know me. For example, Maulu (kaonde for "legs"), my four year old neighbor girl is in charge of getting the flat cooking pan for me when I need it.


... so most people have stopped straining the tree roots and cornmeal out ofmy traditional monkoyo drink. Now I drink and spit just like my friends.

... but still cannot stand on one foot and take off a broken flip flop off of the other foot while balancing 44lb of water on my head and while holding a bucket of water in the other hand. Joice my 18 year old neighbor can do it.

... but I can walk with 22 lb on my head (if I support it with one hand!).

... and I dress like a typical Kaonde woman. At home I wear a t-shirt, a wrapped skirt (2-4 meters of fabric) and a half slip. Even on a hot day I feel funny not dressing like this.

... so I have adopted some "unusual" ideas. I think chickens are the world's greatest pets. Not only are they fun to watch and self-sufficient: finding their own food and going in at night and out in the morning but also they lay eggs either for eating or hatching. I have a hen and 3 chicks!

... and I can tell the change of season by signs rather than months. When their are mangoes, rain, disease, funerals and kids crying at night --its the hungry season. When the kids steal handfuls of cornmeal from their parents storage and cook rats in the bush and the men are singing late into the night, you know its the harvest season. Its ironic that the singers are squandering their money to buy alcohol made from the same corn they just sold.

... but I still cringe each time Maulu has to take a bath (ie. Her mom scrubbing her down with a rock and plastic strips from a cornmeal sack.

... and have built up to run the 14 mile round trip to neighboring Sota. And to testify to that fact is Herald's comment, "Sara, did you run to Sota this morning? I saw your shoe prints on the road." This proves three things: 1) Not many people pass on that road each day (about 3 vehicles a week). 2) Not many other people on the road are wearing shoes. 3) Yeh! I did it!

... and never will it be easy to watch children grow up in this harsh environment. Maulu's youngest brother has been fighting a prolonged bout of diarrhea. After about 5 days he was so weak and tired, his eyes had sunk back and he slept most of the day. His waking hours were spent as a rag doll in his mothers arms. The poor babe is one year old.

... and I have finally seen every pond on the Luamabembe Stream. That is, if someone hasn't built another while I'm here in town. :)

Doing good and hoping the same for you!

Sara Kiboko
(the family name of my village headman is now also my last name)

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Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Zambia; PCVs in the Field - Zambia



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