The Chewa people, who inhabit these parts of Zambia, live a very simple lifestyle. They’re mostly subsistence farmers, which means they live directly off the land and rely heavily on rains. However, this is slowly changing.
Women play a pivotal role in society – they look after the children, work in the fields as well as the homes, sell produce and are often the decision-makers when family members fall sick in hospital. They’re really hard working! Unfortunately, girls are less likely to complete secondary schooling, probably, at least in part, due to socially-imposed limitations. I loved how readily the women broke out into singing and dance.
Zambians are extremely friendly. They’re forever laughing and joking, which made for a relaxed atmosphere. You never felt unsafe walking the villages and towns. And it was impossible for the children to take anything seriously :p
In the dry season, the landscape changed dramatically, becoming dryer and adopting a yellow-brown colour. Here are some photos during walks around the hospital.
My favourite time of the year was the cold dry season. Every day you could expect fine blue skies and warm temperatures, without being hot. The Zambians, however, always thought it was freezing!
In the hot dry season, it got really hot and the hospital became a little uncomfortable.
One of the major challenges of the dry season is that the electricity supply became even more unreliable, with 12 hours or more of outages per day. This meant that fuel for ambulances was being diverted to the generator so that electricity could be supplied to the hospital, which meant ambulances were left parked without fuel, and patient transport became impossible.
Expats were provided with dinner every day at “the mess”. Numbers waxed and waned depending on how many volunteers there were at the time. Below is Dr Tim, a local legend from the UK who has volunteered around 10 years of his life to working in Sub-Saharan Africa.
What the cooks made for us depended heavily on what ingredients were available and whether there was electricity. Many times we were treated with delicious recipes like this vegetable pie.
Other times the combination of food left us scratching our heads!
You never knew what you’d get!