long time no blog…

Well it’s been a while… it is now around 20months ago that we left Zambia…and finally….I’m getting to go back!!! School term finished today so I can now get my head around the fact I’m off to Africa again.

Unfortunately Ali has to work so its just one Baxter on this adventure.  I’ll be leaving England from Heathrow on Sunday 6th April and returning Friday 18th. It’s a long old flight – 18hours with a switch of planes at Addis Abba. I’ve loaded my bag up with good books – finally a chance to read again!

I shall be staying in both Luanshya and Kabwe – the two places where we spent our time in 2011/2012. To say i’m excited would be an understatement!

Hoping i’ll be able to blog a little while i’m away. 

Missing moments: The girl who captured my heart…

Close to the Congo border, far off the beaten track, we visited a community which had seemingly been forgotten by most of the world…

Incredibly, the CBO (community-based organisation) that Hands at Work partners with were running a free community school, a feeding programme and carrying out home visits to many of the most vulnerable children who lived there.

We went to encourage the care workers, play games with the children and gather stories.

Lots of children capture your attention and stand out to you and  this gorgeous young girl in particular touched my heart.

I spent around 3 hours with her; having the opportunity to meet her family, see her home and find out her story.

From memory, she had seven brothers and sisters and her mother was doing small pieces of work to earn a living. The community school had given the chance to have an education and she loved going to lessons.

We held hands for over two hours…she was determined not to let go!  Her smile and joy was infectious.

We danced our way along the dusty streets, travelling through her community, singing song after song in Bemba and English.

This is one of my favourite picture from our time in July.  Ask me about this visit when you see me….

Despite not being able to communicate verbally through a common language, it was a clear I’d made a friend for life!

Baxter’s in……????

The most popular two questions I’ve been asked since returning are ‘What’s it like being back in the UK?’ and ‘Have you settled back in yet?’

Seemingly simple questions, yet incredibly complex and deep, in which my response can change weekly!   I thought it was only fair to people who’ve been following me for the year to hear what my reflections on returning to the UK .  I’m sorry it’s not very concise and a ramble of thoughts but I hope it makes sense.

To begin with, i’ll try and answer the first question.  Being back in the UK is refreshing, comfortable, stressful, pressurized, bland, tricky, gut wrenching and relaxing all rolled into one!

It is so refreshing to speak so easily in our language, using our funny English phrases and not be misunderstood or not understood at all!   We’ve thoroughly enjoyed eating our ‘normal’food, wearing our normal clothes, visiting familiar places and people.  Seeing the English and Welsh countryside again was just breath taking…it truly is beautiful and I don’t want to take it for granted!

I’ve realized how much more relaxed i am if there is queue or a wait…although i’m still not good at things being changed short notice sometimes!

What I’ve noticed most is how stressful and pressurized people are in the UK. People are just about hanging on, ‘surviving’  to the weekend because of  high stress jobs etc. I saw people under pressure in Africa but in a very different way.   This is what I’ve found hardest…being sucked back into stress and my life revolving around work.  Its a hard balance to find. Having spent a year being able to see my husband in the evenings, having time to read and exercise without falling asleep (!)  its  been made it even more clear t to me that our British work ethic isn’t particularly healthy.   Its one i’m still trying to figure out how to readdress this balance.

I miss the colour of Africa… England at the moment is so dull and gloomy! I drive to work in the dark and leave as the sun sets….drizzzle..eugh,..i’d not missed that!!

I now have to make a concerted effort to wear a seat belt, having spent so much time being sat in the back of trucks and getting out of the habit.

Also, everything seems more expensive than when we left – clothes, fuel and food all seem to have dramatically increased in price.  Not good for the old bank balance.

I’ve cried many times on returning…..over the injustice of our life here and the poverty we saw, over the waste and disrespect of valuable resources  I’ve seen, over the different priorities and morals I’ve not been exposed to for a while and the difficult journey to find a sense of purpose again being back in England.    People said going away would give us a greater sense of direction here…well..its only split our hearts further and confused us as to what we can do to bring a piece of heaven to earth and where in the world that can be!

The most wonderful thing has been seeing family and friends.  I still don’t feel we’ve done enough of this yet but i guess we’ve only been back 2 months.  Its been so great to share meals together, tell stories and catch up on a year’s news.  Having missed six weddings and several births, lots had changed!  Seeing the children at school again was fantastic. I’ve loved hearing how their year had been and seeing how they’ve matured in their abilities and character.  Its been great to share glimpse of my year with them.  I hope it will inspire them to travel, explore and fight against injustice.

Secondly….

‘Have you settled back in yet?’  Hmmm…. some days i feel yes, others no. Anyone who has spent ant time out of the their home country will understand what this can feel like.   We are currently house sitting which has been fantastic to have our own space, but if feels like we’re in limbo.  We’re stuck – not quite settled anywhere – most of our stuff still in boxes but trying to make a ‘home’.

Nothing feels certain, secure or settled…  words which usually scare me in some ways but actually what i’m craving at the moment!

I’m sure it will come…..for now, I’m attempting to have patience and resilience while its ‘baxtersinlimbo’… it could be a long, slow, journey…..

Unusual beginnings

Beautiful seeds which create some of the unusual plants and trees in the bush….

The first is one of my favourite photos in June.

the middle looks hairy but they’re actually small spikes!

a rock solid seed…

This bizarre ‘seed’ is actually the shell housing hundreds of seeds! It has another layer round it but it was peeled off – the outside is hard but turns very spongy when wet. People in the bush often use it to wash with!

Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds. ” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

Genesis 1:11-12

 

life is…by Mother Teresa

Life is an opportunity, benefit from it. Life is beauty, admire it.

Life is a dream, realize it. Life is a challenge, meet it.

Life is a duty, complete it. Life is a game, play it.

Life is a promise, fulfill it. Life is sorrow, overcome it.

Life is a song, sing it. Life is a struggle, accept it.

Life is a tragedy, confront it. Life is an adventure, dare it.

Life is luck, make it. Life is too precious, do not destroy it.

Life is life, fight for it.

Mother Teresa

Thanks to the Clucas family for sharing this quote with me!

One day I’ll tell you their story…

(for those reading on email, you’ll need to go to the blog to see the pictures!)

Just some of the children I’ve met over the past couple of weeks…

 13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.

Psalm 139  (The Message)

Mark 10:15The Message (MSG)

 13-16The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: “Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them.

Traditional Zambian food…

Just a couple of photos to show you what we’ve been eating here every week in Zambia.

Our lovely cook Melody makes lunch for us all in the office.  Its traditional Zambian food.

Here you have nshima made from maize ‘flour’, fried chicken, soup (a sauce made from tomatoes and onions) and finally cabbage.   This meal is eaten using your right hand.  You take a small amount of nshima and use your hand to shape into kind of a ball, then dip it into the cabbage and/or sauce.

This is Rice, spicy mince in a sauce and cabbage/rape mix

This is Kapenta – small fish  – which i’m not so keen on!  Next to it is rape, a kind of leaf that is commonly grown here.

Oil and salt are used a lot in cooking.

Nearly all meals (if you can afford it) will have nshima and/or rice, a green veg and some kind of meat/fish.  Sometimes people will cook pasta or potatoes in addition to nshima.

One restaurant we went to, the meat choice was pigs trotters, offal and very bizarre cuts of the chicken!

These meals will be eaten at lunch and dinner.  The nshima particularly is very filling – many Zambians will complain they haven’t had a proper meal if it doesn’t include nshima!

For breakfast, many people eat sweet potatoes (often fried) or a kind of porridge made out of the mealie meal – maize flour.    We ‘ve stuck to our oat porridge and cornflakes though!

I hope to post more about food…there are some other traditional dishes I’d love to show you.

ZAMBIA vs. GHANA…world cup qualifier

We began the day by catching a lift with a some other football fans, saving us about K80,000.  It took us all the way to Ndola, to the brand new football stadium.  (not packed like the one above!)

Crowds thronged the streets and sellars vied for customers; boiled eggs, fried chicken, popcorn, milk, fruit or zambian flags, hats, t-shirts, scarfs and pipecleaner glasses!  The place was heaving and the sun was beating down as we navigated our way through to the stadium gates.

We met up with some friends and headed inside to  find our seats.  I had to use the toilet – it was the cleanest, poshest long drop i have ever seen!!

We waited a while for the game to start and settled into the atmosphere.  If only I could show you the sounds and smells too! The stadium slowly filled up to its 40,000 seater capacity.

The Zambian team came out to warm up! The crowd went wild – mexican waves, cheering, horns and drums filled the air.

The teams lined up to sing their national anthems.

The crowds watch on closely…

The moment before the ball went into the net and zambia scored…1-0!!   Ghana looked more comfortable with the ball but when Zambia got a break, they went for it.

The place was full of vuvuzela’s – it sounded like a swarm of bees flying round the stadium!

As the sun began to go down, the game ended with zambia winning!

Chaos reigned as everyone tried to leave… vehicles had been parked all over the central reservation for what seemed like miles, blocking one another in. Cars were going the wrong way up roads and waiting in huge lines to even move.

What an amazing day… lets see if Zambia will make it through!

Lemon Drizzle Cake…the best recipe yet!

Image

So i’m working with slightly more limited resources and tighter budget here in Zambia but this recipe turned out amazing!  Gluten free cake are usually dry and crumbly but this was the complete opposite! 

I had to use brown sugar, marg and icing sugar and there’s no ‘caster sugar’ here, oh and obviously gluten free all purpose flour.  So, i’m sure if you try it with the proper ingredients, it will turn out even better.

(We made butter icing as an addition)

THE INGREDIENTS:

1 cup caster sugar

1/2 cup butter

1 egg

2 TBSPs low-fat plain yogurt

1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

Grated zest of a lemon

For the icing: juice of a lemon, plus 1/4 cup caster sugar

THE METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°
  2. Grease, flour and – if you have the energy – line a standard loaf tin, or put muffin cups in your muffin tray
  3. Cream the butter and sugar
  4. Beat in the egg and yogurt
  5. Beat in the milk
  6. Sieve the flour and BP, then beat into the egg mixture until blended
  7. Stir in the lemon zest
  8. Pour into loaf tin or muffin tray
  9. Bake for one hour or until a skewer comes out clean
  10. Combine lemon juice and sugar and before pouring over the warm cake, stab it all over with a piece of dried spaghetti to make holes for the syrup
  11. Remove from tin, place on rack, leave to cool

 

ENJOY!