7 Days of Zambia: Day 3
Small Kitchens and Few Cars: 'Life in Africa is Hard'
June 6, 2011 - A middle-class home in Zambia has no bonus room or two-car garage. Even in the capital Lusaka, very few can afford a car, so most people walk wherever they go.
"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances."
By Trevor Freeze
If you had one afternoon free to spend in Zambia, what would you do?
Hold that thought.
On this morning, there was a video shoot to cover.
Starting with the 2005 India project, the My Hope team realized that training a country with such a huge land mass required some creative thinking.
The result was a 15-minute video that simulates a My Hope evening, walking the host “Matthews” through the entire day from start to finish.
Basically, getting everyone on the same page.
Rebecca and Cletus were gracious enough to open their home, a middle-class dwelling just outside Lusaka that probably measured 800 to 1,000 square feet.
The kitchen had just enough room for a small stove, sink and microwave — the fridge had to stay in the dining room — and was located in an addition to the house.
That’s how most folks roll here in Zambia. With mortgage options and credit cards virtually non-existent to the majority of the population, Zambians practice a build-as-you-save model to their homes.
It’s a very practical approach, keeps people out of debt and leads to a simpler life. Not a bad idea.
Their furniture was nice, but not excessive. The TV set was modest. Clothes were hung to dry in the back yard on a clothes line.
Inside, rolled take after take after take, about 18 hours worth from Friday night through 10:30 p.m. on Saturday. Yet Rebecca and Cletus didn’t mind.
The couple, who heard about the My Hope project through a friend from church and volunteered their house, were warm and welcoming. Even though they had a 2-year-old girl and 1-month-old boy.
But as shooting wore onto the afternoon hours, and my notebook and camera plenty filled, we found ourselves with a few free hours.
Nap time? Nah.
Too expensive. And far away.
But we heard about this lodge — Lilayi Lodge — that was within a 30-minute drive and had a handful of animals.
A mini-safari? Perhaps. Although our timing was off and we just missed the truck tour. Impeccable.
But the day was not lost.
There was a splendid roasted chicken lunch and our taxi driver, Moses, gave us a guided tour both to and from Lusaka that was more than worth the trip out.
About 30 years ago, Moses moved a couple hours to Lusaka, an area that nearly 2 million people call home now, to find work. He’s been driving a taxi ever since.
His heart may be in farming, but Moses had this unique educational gift of describing the city of Lusaka and its surrounding in a way that helped me understand the landscape.
You know that feeling you get when you pay for a tour in some random city, and the guide is particularly knowledgeable and passionate about the area and you know you’re in for a treat.
That’s this guy, Moses. Only he drives a taxi and the guided tour is included in the ride.
One of the biggest surprises on this trip: Everybody walks.
Well, not everybody, but at times, it sure seemed like it. Even on the major highways, the dirt shoulders are usually filled with men, women and children of all ages, many who travel 30 to 40 kilometers a day, according to our guide.
Many carrying goods on their head.
Moses, always succinct in his word usage, explained that many Zambians can't afford a vehicle. And they have a long way to travel for work or to get life’s necessities.
Moses takes his eyes off the road, glancing out the window.
“Living in Africa is hard,” he said softly.
I’m starting to understand.
"7 Days of Zambia" is a first-person blog, following the My Hope Zambia project through the lens of a reporter. For more info on the My Hope project, click here.