3 months in Lusaka and Adjusting to Zambian Time

I’ve been feeling a little bit strange this last week or so. I’m not sure why – partly I think it is because I hit the 3 month wall and we have all been told that the 3-4 months mark is often a bit difficult. I’m not exactly homesick but I do miss my family and friends immensely. I think I’ve also been putting a bit of pressure on myself in terms of “I’m 3 months in; what have I achieved at work? How many friends have I made? How many words do I know in Nyanja, let alone Bemba or Tonga?” and worrying that the answer to all of these questions could well be “not a lot”. I am trying to remind myself regularly that I am actually doing pretty well in the grand scheme of things – and that I no longer work in target driven London, so there is no point trying to measure my time here by the same standards as I would at home. My friends here have been very supportive. And I have a vague memory of some kind of discussion about this type of thing at one of the VSO training courses – if I could be bothered to look in my training manual I am sure there would be a helpful diagram in there somewhere…

But I would just like to say, despite all this, that I love Zambia. I love Lusaka. I love Fountain of Hope. I am incredibly happy here.

To prove it, here are some lovely things that have happened in the last week:

I was off work for 1 1/2 days last week as I was loitering around at Immigration waiting for them to find my work permit (they didn’t find it…yawn…) and doing a few VSO admin type things. When I arrived at work at 1400 on Friday, I had a small crowd of young children running down the street to greet me, a few others flung themselves at me as I arrived through the gates at Fountain, and several of the resident boys came running up to me asking “where were you tomorrow? I missed you!” (The words ‘tomorrow’ and ‘yesterday’ appear to be interchangeable, further evidence of the differences between English time and Zambian time!).

On Tuesday last week, I popped to the loo and on the way back I was bowled off my feet by a group of girls (several of whom I had never seen before) who all seemd to want me to roar like a monster and chase them. I did my best but I am getting old and it wasn’t long before I was exhausted!

There is a new resident boy at Fountain of Hope, who claims to be 14 but can’t be much older than 11. He is an incredibly funny little fellow with an unusually chubby tummy! He speaks barely any English (and sadly I am yet to find my fluency with Nyanja and Bemba and the like) but he follows me around and chatters away to me! After a few conversations with other people I think he may be on the Autistic spectrum (although I am not sure that such things exist here) and if so I think the Library may be a really good place for him to come; I used to find that the relatively calm/ordered environment was very helpful to kids on the Autistic spectrum when I was in the UK.

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About Lubuto Library Blog

A Lubuto library is a special place designed for street kids and other marginalized children and youth in Africa. In the safe haven of the library, children can look at books, be read to and read for themselves. They can develop their talents and express themselves through the visual and performing arts, or communicate and learn with OLPC laptops. They can receive mentoring and guidance and participate in programs on health and the environment. Lubuto libraries open the world to children with no opportunities, allowing them to explore their heritage and learn about others through varied and enriching library programs.
This entry was posted in Nikki Packer, VSO Volunteers. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to 3 months in Lusaka and Adjusting to Zambian Time

  1. Jane Meyers says:

    I’ve simply got to say that Nikki has accomplished quite a bit since she’s been working with the Lubuto library at Fountain of Hope! As her little vignettes indicate, she is well-loved, by adults and children alike at Fountain of Hope, and that is no small accomplishment. One of the most important things our libraries do is to create community among the vulnerable youth around them, and so if we use community-building as the target, Nikki, well you have hit the bulls-eye! The true impacts of the library are the connections with each and every child whose life you brighten!

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