Same same

My time here in Zambia is coming to an end. If there’s one thing that this trip has confirmed it’s that we’re all the same.

I’ve written a lot of about the differences I’ve experienced here. They are many. They are interesting. They can be surprising. They can be frustrating.

But the reality is that as many differences as there are between countries and cultures, there are infinitely many similarities. We are all people. We love to smile. We love to laugh. We love to love.

It’s easy to ignore what makes us the same and simply focus on the few things that make us different. Let’s stop doing that.

Posted in Culture, Perspectives, Reflection, Travel, Zambia | Tagged | 2 Comments

UPDATE: Stanley

Just want to give a quick update on Stanley.

He was able to obtain a loan. He has started his chicken business while still working full time at the organic garden. He has a solid business plan.

I visited his place right before I left and it’s looking good. He’s up to 20 chickens and has about 40 eggs brooding. The chickens roam free during the day and have a temporary coop for sleeping but Stanley is busy building a permanent coop right now. It’s all pretty exciting.


Stanley, king of the chickens





Feeding the chickens in the temporary coop



New coop being built



In a weird turn of events, I was given a chicken as a going away present at a party they threw me in Sinazeze. I debated just having a delicious dinner, but Little Jerry Seinfeld is probably very grateful of his new home at Stanley’s.


Best buds



I see in Little Jerry Seinfeld the unlimited future I once had



How to you transport a chicken? In a bag of course

Posted in Animals, Development, Zambia | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Social cynicism

I promised a while ago that I’d talk about social enterprise. I also promised it would be cynical. I’m a man of my word.

I’ve been trying to figure out what makes a social enterprise here in Zambia. I think I got it.

A social enterprise in Zambia is a business where a westerner is involved.

That’s really the best I can come up with. I can’t see any other major difference between a typical business here compared to a social enterprise. A local artisan making some knick knacks for the tourist market is just running a business but add a westerner and some clever marketing and suddenly you have a social enterprise. A group of farmers selling their harvest at a local market are self employed but as soon as an NGO comes in and forms a “cooperative”, it’s now a social enterprise.

Take that however you wish.

Posted in Development, Perspectives, Reflection, Zambia | Tagged , | 3 Comments


I adapt pretty well to wherever I am. When in Rome and whatnot. But if there’s one thing I  can’t adapt to here in Zambia it’s how to deal with garbage. I simply can’t get myself to follow the locals and throw it on the ground. I’ll happily throw a banana peel out a bus window, but can’t do the same to a biscuit wrapper.

Many towns and villages in Zambia are just covered with litter. Ditches are full of pop bottles, Chibuku cartons, and various wrappers. It doesn’t look very nice.

Other places have less garbage around. Where does it go? Likely it’s getting burnt. Piles of garbage are often seen burning all around the country (see Andrea’s post about fire). I also just found out what happens to my garbage at the farm once it’s taken away from my house. It’s brought to a landfill where it’s later burnt.

That made me wonder. What’s better? Having piles of garbage around towns and on the side of roads, or getting rid of it by burning it. One is bad for the landscape, the other releases pollutants to the atmosphere. Obviously none are ideal options, but they are the reality right now. Maybe I should start throwing my garbage into a ditch instead of bringing it home so it can be burnt.

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My trip to Zimbabwe included a train trip. I love trains! There’s nothing like sitting by a window and watching the world go by.


The train went from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls. It was an overnight train. Andrew and I got a sleeper for the low price of $12.


You can tell that the train was once luxurious. It was built in the 50’s and although it’s now run by the National Railroad of Zimbabwe (NRZ), it still retains some of its original branding of the Rhodesian Railroad (RR). Now it’s run down, in desperate need of some loving.





Just as we were warned, the train was severely delayed. We left on time, but managed to lose many hours on the way. No worries, there’s no rush. More time to sit in the bar car, drinking a few beers in the evening and coffee in the morning, while chatting with some fellow passengers. The train goes through some beautiful scenery, including Hwange National Park where I saw an elephant and plenty of baboons. There’s no better way to arrive at Victoria Falls, seeing a glimpse of the gorge and the mist from the falls as you pull into the station.







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They grow up so fast

The last couple weeks I’ve been away from my “home” in Siansowa. I’ve been staying with a host family of sorts. They’re not quite a host family, but Andrew and I are working with them on our project and have therefore been staying with them in Sinazeze, a town about an hour and half from Siansowa. I’m sleeping in a tent, but all our meals are eaten with the family. They’ve treated us great. I’d be getting fat if I stayed here much longer.

The family consists of Foster and Irene and their 3 kids. Other relatives are always around, adults and kids.

Foster and Irene had to go away to a funeral for a few days. They took their young baby with them. This left Chocho, a 12 or 13 year old girl, and Lulu, a 5 or 6 year old boy, by themselves at home. Sure, they’re not completely on their own, they have relatives around, but they have to manage the day-to-day by themselves.

Chocho’s a rockstar. Even with her parents around, she’s always working. Cooking, cleaning, fetching water, taking care of the baby and countless other household chores. While the boys are off gallivanting  and causing ruckus, the girls are at home working. It doesn’t seem fair. I feel guilty when I’m sitting on a couch and a 13 year old girl is waiting on me, bringing me tea and fritters.


Now that she’s in charge of the household, she’s taken it to the max. When she’s not at school, not only is she taking care of her little brother (and also her little cousin of about the same age), cooking for him, cleaning up after him, making sure he gets ready for school and giving him a bath, but she’s taking care of Andrew and I as well. She’s cooking for us (I love her cooking, she only uses moderate amounts of salt), cleaning the house, even heating up the water for my bucket bath. She’s great.

I have no problem with kids helping out around the house (of course I had a problem with it while I was a kid). I do have a problem with the inequalities between boys and girls here. Girls are expected to help out around the house and take care of their younger siblings starting at a very young age. Boys seem to get to just hang around, doing whatever they want. Boys get to kids. Girls seem to lose their childhood very early on.

Don’t get me wrong, Chocho is still a kid. She likes playing volleyball at school, she likes running around with friends, she likes to have fun. She’s just a kid with adult responsibilities.

I wonder what the situation here would look like if the genders of the kids were reversed. If the older kid was a boy and the younger one was a girl.


Chocho taking care of her little niece

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chorwe without borders

It took a while, but I now have a Tonga name: Chorwe.

It means luck.

I’m not sure why I was given this name. I met a guy on the street, talked to him for about a minute, and he declared that my name was Chorwe. He was pretty adamant about it.

I think he got it right. I’m a pretty lucky guy.

Posted in Zambia | Tagged , , | 1 Comment