As we drive along a road that leads to Zambia we are saddened to see many mangled cars rotting by the side. We even saw a large articulated lorry just a few minutes after it had landed on its side and the police were just arriving. Talking of police, there were many stops on the road where police were involved in checking for car radio licences – a bit like a TV licence but needed for every car radio!
The most exciting road side activity though was when we saw a herd of 12 elephants, including a very small baby, just a few feet from us. We stopped and looked as they walked past, not seeming to mind us at all. This was just the first of many groups of elephants to be seen walking free.
Geckos are abundant, crawling on walls and ceilings and up trees. They are many different sizes and colours which makes each one interesting! Spiders are big but there aren’t many thankfully. Amazingly we walked out of breakfast today to find 3 zebra eating grass right by us. We watched a hotel worker walk right past them … so we did the same. It’s great to see them with no fences, but a bit scary too as we remind ourselves that they are wild animals!
We have arrived at the local World Vision ADP office to the news that our lost suitcase has arrived. This is great news as that particular suitcase has gifts in for a school where we hope to visit with some teachers and children later this week. The school gifts have been donated by Staples in Canterbury, OSO in Buckingham, Stony Stratford Community Church and Southwood School, where I teach. After everyone being so generous we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to pass on these gifts!
We have had the chance to speak with some of the people here to find out about changes in the area since World Vision started working here. It is encouraging to hear! Some of the impressive changes are: World Vision are working with the health department to give nutritional information to people; clinics are being opened in more rural areas so everyone has the opportunity for health care; immunisation is more wide spread with the result that infant mortality has dropped by almost 50%!
This is my main reason for being here! I sponsor two sisters through World Vision. This started with me sponsoring one girl, Prescilla 10 years ago. I was able to visit her 6 1/2 years ago and as a result of that visit I began to sponsor her younger sister, Precious. I know so few sponsors are able to visit their sponsored children, so I am privileged to have been able to come here twice. This time I am visiting with my husband Ian and my 15 year old son Saul. The trip to the children’s home takes approximately 3 hours from where we are staying and only 20 mins of that ride is on recognisable roads!! I feel nervous and excited together and it’s hard to explain just what is going through my head as we travel towards their home. I’m grateful that it is winter as the rivers are passable, unlike last time when the rainy season meant flooding and danger near rivers. Winter here is not like winter in UK – the weather is approximately 25 degrees and sunny, there has been no rain since March and we are in short sleeves most of the time.
As we travel towards Prescilla and Precious we check that we have everything we need – Gifts for the family, hand wipes and bottled water etc. Their home has no toilet facilities so we are drinking enough to keep safe, but not too much! We have asked for packed lunches so the family don’t have to feed us and as we stop to eat something we chat about our expectations.
This is Saul’s first time in Africa and he is fascinated by the scenery and looking forward to meeting a family living in such a rural location. He is also pleased that the roller coaster ride of a journey has stopped for a few minutes and that we can get out of the heat of the land cruiser for a short while – as are we all! At 15 and having grown up in the UK he is amazed that they manage with no electricity, no running water, no X-box!!! He is interested in the way he will be treated as we have been told that men are more highly regarded than women in the rural areas and that respect is a big issue. We have been practicing a special handshake that is supposed to express respect to those we meet!
Next blog will give all the details of our special visit to Prescilla and Precious and their family – including a few surprises that we really weren’t expecting!
If you’ve got any questions for me or my family andout our trip or what life is like for children here in Zimbabwe please post them below and we will get back to you as soon as we can. You could also take a look at yesterday’s blog if you want to know more.
Samantha Turvey is an enthusiastic World Vision sponsor. She is travelling in Zimbabwe with her family, and blogging about her experience and how this amazing country has changed since her last visit 6 years ago.