So, last week was spent in the Western Province in the Shamiyoyo village. Valentin (left in the picture) is a Civil Engineer who just graduated from university in Germany and came out here to spend a month volunteering building bridges. We had a lot of good laughs, and it was nice to have another Musungu (white person) to laugh with. For example, we had quite a time when we met the chief. They sit a certain way with their legs folded underneath them, but Valentine and I could not manage to bend our legs that way, so he fell over when sitting down, and both of us looked incredibly awkward during the meeting- to the point the chief told Mr. Shamiyoyo to tell us to sit in the chairs- something even his own guards weren't allowed to do. Another example: we met the Zambia National Guard (ZNS) who helped us transport some materials. The names of the people we met were "Boneface Shamywanga" and Colonel Chembe- pronounced Col-o-nel. Valentine and I had a hard time keeping a straight face when we were introduced. To add to our ZNS experience, we bought them 60L of diesel and watched them poor it in a green tractor. Then we saw them start a red tractor. I asked "Boneface" why they were starting the red tractor, and he responded with "the red tractor is for our harvesting, and the green tractor is meant for towing loads, but the green tractor can not start on its own, so the red tractor has to take it to start." So after watching the red tractor tow the green tractor full of fuel off into the distance disappearing for about 20 minutes, I had my doubts. But the driver and the mechanic carrying his wrenches managed to get it going and deliver the materials with push starting it down hills every time they had to unload.
Mr. and Mrs. Shamiyoyo (right in the picture) and their son, Charles (middle-left) were so great! Charles showed us around the village and taught us a few words like Mwapenduku- the greeting and even showed us the foods that they eat. Charles even took us to the markets and showed us some maiz grinding. They even gave us a huge bag of peanuts and sweet potatoes to take home. I tried some raw casava root- which was very hard to eat- as you can see- because I felt like I was going to break all of my teeth, and I don't think my dad would be too impressed if I returned home toothless.
Even in the first few minutes of being on site, the need for the bridge was obvious. The community members started crossing the river in their canoe- one person at a time. And after about 15 minutes, they decided we should all go to the other side- taking about 20 minutes to drive the car and an additional 20 minutes to get all of the people across in the canoe. The bridge broke ground on construction with much enthusiasm, and they finished the first foundation walls while I was still there. Everyone worked really hard, and there were always extra people around watching or throwing in an extra hand. Even the young girls were able to carry bricks from the village to the river on their head- let me tell you- they are not light!