Homecoming

As I head home from Zambia to celebrate Christmas in Canada I wanted to share some pictures of the amazing people that have become my family over the past 4 months and truly made this place feel like home:

And for those of you who know me well you know I couldn’t finish this post without this:

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Graduation Day

Tomorrow marks the last 5 days of work here.

Unbelievable how fast 4 months has flown by.

What’s even more crazy is how much has been achieved with BCP since waaaay back in August when I first arrived.

This past week in particular was a really special one with maybe the biggest achievement so far.

Back in August my work with BCP began with sensitization meetings with the community – where we first introduced to the organization and the concept of global warming, CO2 and deforestation (not an easy thing to do considering that we are trying to tell them that there is this invisible gas that is ‘trapped’ inside a tree).

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For the most part these meetings went over well but they also came with a ton of speculation that there was a secret plan by us to steal their land…at one point we even heard that they wanted to stone our vehicle!

At the same time we were developing a business plan to create a sustainable charcoal business which would curb deforestation by sustainably ‘harvesting’ trees for charcoal and introducing two proven improved kiln technologies that have never been used in Zambia before.

Note: Now it may not sound intuitive to try to stop deforestation by helping charcoalers do their job better but the hard truth is that 80% of Zambians (both rural and urban) use charcoal daily; and until electricity supply increases and costs decrease this will continue to happen for a long time.

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So move on a few weeks and a business model has been made. And we find ourselves in the office of one of the biggest grocery chains, Spar, (think Metro in Canada) where they are showing support to stock our product – another first in the country – once it’s ready!

Meanwhile things are still moving on the ground with the community. They have agreed to setting aside almost 500 hectares for a pilot project area! We then demarcate the trees and I become a specialist in painting trees in the mountains.

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Fast forward again and I’m delivering a major presentation – the biggest one of my entire life – to investors and stakeholders.

As good as the presentation went the eyes are focused on us more than ever since we now need to deliver.

A few weeks later the kilns are built and a construction manual on how to do it is made! Though not the greatest welding I’ve seen in my life I’m sure it’ll get the job done…

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So with weeks here starting to dwindle and the project highly dependent on me we realize we need to act immediately and hire a local professional Zambian to carry over the project once I leave. Surprisingly our prayers get answered and by the next week we find the perfect candidate, Shadreck, to fill the spot….and with 6 weeks to go I have time to get him up to speed and offer a bit of mentorship to dive straight in the management role!

Some more time passes and we’ve gotten a group of 10 existing charcoalers for a formal training to become certified BCP eco-charcoalers! This is especially crucial for multiple reasons (1) were removing unsustainable charcoalers and charcoal practices and introducing 10 people who already know the fundamentals of charcoaling; (2) with guidance it ensures correct practices; (3) helps to create ownership of the project and a sense of community between producers; and (4) the community gets introduced to Shadreck moving forward (at the same time Shadreck gains some experience presenting, leading the session, and comfortable with being the face of the project).

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The training goes extremely well with high interaction, questions, and excitement and a plan is made to sign both an MOU and individual contracts with producers (where they commit to stopping unsustainable practices
while a part of the project) – both of these act to officially launch the project!

And so last week I spent the entire week on the ground with the new eco-charcoalers going through the practical training session and setting up the first eco-charcoal kilns! Through it i quickly learn how strong these guys actually are (on Thursday alone the 7 of us had lifted close to 5000kg worth of trees)!

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More importantly I get to spend time chatting and getting to know them better and realize how tough it actually is to make a living.

And on Thursday it finally happens – the kiln is lit and the first batch of sustainable charcoal is successfully made!!

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This is really exciting firstly for the personal satisfaction of seeing and entire business being developed and implemented in such a short time. But there are so many more reasons why this is so exciting. The project is in the hands of a local company and local Zambian who will continue the project once I leave. I have managed to work myself out of a job while hopefully leaving BCP all of the tools to run with it going forward. We have hit the biggest driver of deforestation in Zambia head on – and although still only a pilot the potential is HUGE for it to spread across the rest of the country. The community is inspired an excited and have shown signs of real ownership and care of conserving their forests. This small pilot will directly impact over 250 people and hundreds more indirectly for a better livelihood. And community leaders have committed to provide more land once it begins to show success. The industry can start to shift from one where the community and the govt battle with high illegal activities to one where they can work together to conserve forests and producers do it legally. Though there are potentially many things preventing success the building blocks are all there!

So with one week left well do a couple of modifications to improve efficiency and ill spend the majority of the week report writing to ensure everything is documented properly before I go…

Where in a couple weeks ill be home literally right before Christmas to spend time with family, catch up with friends, and come back to what I’m hearing is a ton of snow!

Only 6 more days!

Gone

A couple of weekends ago I had the pleasure of visiting the Daka family once again, with one of my good friends (and past EWBer) Graham. For those who hadn’t had a chance to read my earlier blog post, ‘The Village Life‘ this was the family that I stayed with for 10 days at the beginning of my placement!

Although just a couple of days this time, it truly did feel like going back ‘home’ to get to see the Daka kids, hang out with the family, and the other community members in the village. A busy weekend with pictures only doing justice to everything we did:

Checkin’ out some cotton fields at one of his neighbours

Visiting his farm:

Those small puppies from my first visit are also all grown up now. And his cat has had 4 kittens too:

After walking what seemed like an eternity we took a quick rest stop and caught some shade under the blaring 40C heat:

After continuing to get schooled by the kids at football I decided to take a break and be the photographer:

We also were lucky enough to be there for the first rain’s of the season. This meant (1) running for cover as quickly possible (2) that we would be waking up at the crack of dawn to start the first planting and (3) that the next few months will be EXTREMELY busy in the village.

Hiding in the kitchen until the rains stopped:

Even the animals are hiding (award for anyone who guesses correctly how many animals are in this picture!)

The entire family (incl. Graham and I) up early ‘pot-holing’ the maize seeds:

And after a long morning of work we managed to show the kids a new game using some electrical wire…..skipping! (which, surprisingly, Mr. Daka was amazing at!)

So after a long and hectic weekend we were off

Though I will see the family again before I leave it is sad to know that my time here is almost finished. With just over 2 weeks left I cant believe how quickly time has flown by. At the same time I wonder what lies in store for them, especially the kids, in the future.

The amount of learning of what true rural life is like in Zambia has been incredible – from family dynamics, to the role of the kids, to the intricate details of farming. Living with the Daka’s and sharing both my experiences in Canada and his experiences in Zambia has been something that I will never forget.

I also got to hear the many stories of NGOs coming and going to the community – from bee keeping programs, to boreholes, to new crops, to community clinics and schools, they’ve all been here. As per their usual ‘2-5 year’ program they all have had initial success, BUT  as I witnessed first hand with many of them, the long-term lasting effects have really been minimal to non-existent once they’re complete.

In this case I see something different. Yes, the community has no doubt seen the benefits of the work done by BCP over the last few months….but I feel like the difference here is the initiative and drive is coming from a local African-based and owned social enterprise of BCP that is here for the long run. In line with EWB’s BDS strategy, I have hopefully worked myself out of a job, hired a local project manager to continue my work once I leave, gotten a local startup (BCP) ‘investment’ ready by helping to create a solid revenue stream, while also having real on-the-ground knowledge that investors can trust to invest in a social enterprise that is approaching things from the ground-up. At the same time BCP has integrated members of the community to help create community-led ownership – Mr. Daka is also a part of the BCP team, as one of the key community coordinators in all of our field activities and programs. Combined I hope that this does provide security that the future is looking up for the Kantyanta community…..and Mr Daka promised he’ll be getting an email account and whenever he visits Chongwe he will be sending email update from the local internet cafe to tell me how its all going!

Almost at the home stretch and stay tuned I will try to send updates as much as possible before I leave…See you all soon!

Let’s Help Norway This Christmas

New campaign out to help those freezing out in Norway this Christmas. Care of The Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund (SAIH)!

Note: This is not real so please don’t dont your radiator just yet! It’s meant to show that we can’t generalize helping the entire continent of ‘Africa’ with feel-good options. Let’s educate ourselves on how we can effectively impact livelihood!

No Church in the Wild

So after telling a local colleague that I hadn’t yet explored Zambia he told me not to worry about it and that he would set me up at an amazing spot.

And so this past weekend I had a quick holiday at Chichele Presidential Lodge at South Luangwa National Park, where the tag line reads:

“The magnificent historic game lodge set in amongst lush primeval forest provides panoramic views across the game-rich valleys of South Luangwa National Park.”

Some background on Chichele is that it was originally the presidential retreat of Zambia’s first president, Kenneth Kaunda. Though it was later abandoned (and at one point almost turned into a remote hospital), the lodge was reopened in April 2011 as part of one of the premier resorts from ‘Sanctuary Retreats’. As you can see the facilities live up to both its history and to the standard of an incomparable vacation spot:

As amazing as the resort was some of the best moments of the trip were getting out and seeing the wild game up close and personal, both during the game drives and on the walking tours….

It was truly a once in a lifetime experience to get a short break from the fast paced life of Lusaka and take a moment to reflect back on the past four months. Though extremely difficult to get back to real life this week, it really had me thinking about a few things.

Perception of Africa

Among the many places around the world that I’ve stayed, I can hands down say this was one of the best spots. The location and weather were perfect, the food was incredible, the rooms and amenities were beyond luxurious, and more importantly the service and care from all of the staff were unparalleled.

It’s so surprising that a place like this exists with so little international recognition as a top destination spot. You often hear about small towns in Europe that are a gem, or Kruger National Park in South Africa, but when was the last time South Luangwa was on that same list? Is it a lack of tourism support from the government or something else fueling this?

Staying there also provided a brief 180 switch from the rest of my placement. I think for many people who have not been out here first-hand, two very common misconceptions are that there is poverty every single place you look and that there are wild animals roaming the entire country. Yes there are many spots where extreme poverty exists and you do get the occasional spiders and snakes as you’re walking home, but at the same time, these are one-dimensional looks at life and it is not the whole story of the place we call ‘Africa’. Just like in Canada, there is something for everyone and you can find anything and everything you are looking for here (well except for snow I guess!?). For me, experiencing and shedding light on the gems here can hopefully spread the word that Zambia too is an incredible destination spot that hopefully many more people can visit one day!

Holidays during a placement a guilty pleasure?

Is it taboo that I went on a weekend trip while out here even though it was personal spending? With all of the ups and downs in a placement, for me, taking a break is 100% needed as it gives you a chance to recharge your batteries, avoid burnout, and maintain the focus and drive to perform at your peak.

It is definitely true that indulging in something like this too often can get you distracted, but like everything balance and moderation is always a good thing. It especially gets you away from your current outlook and give you a chance to look at things from a different lens. I find that the contrast also provides for a greater appreciation of the many aspects that life in Africa has to offer.

As I keep saying to my friends back home – my mind has a chance to breath again! For many of you finding yourselves too stressed at work right now I really encourage you to take some away for yourself this weekend!

Colonialism & ‘Real’ Africa? 

Would Chichele exist if Colonialism didn’t exist? I’m 100% sure that the lodge would’ve been built differently and the food wouldn’t have been the same, but would it even be here today? The ‘scramble for Africa’ happened over 100 years ago yet it’s still accepted that foreigners in Africa are not part of ‘real’ Africa. Yes the power dynamic is different in Canada but are all the immigrants that came to Canada in the past 50 years not ‘real’ Canadians?

No doubt the colonialist style brings many tourists because it caters to what our definition of luxury is. In turn this bring massive tourism to the country. This then brings income for African business and livelihood for many employees (which I can gladly say from what I’ve seen, that employees are treated exceptionally well at Chichele). Then the surrounding communities benefit not only from direct employment, but also from secondary industries (airlines, bus companies, taxis, restaurants, etc) and through businesess’ CSR policies.

So would any of these be here without colonialism?

I think in line with many of my other posts there aren’t necessarily answers to these questions, but rather an open discussion on what you think. At the same time hoping that it does help challenge some of the notions Canadians have about Africa!

Good Morning!

I write this post slightly different than my usual posts. As opposed to looking back at the past few days I write as things are happening and as I’m experiencing it.

It’s 6:45am on Friday morning and I’m sitting on a minibus at the Lusaka City Market waiting for the bus fill to capacity before it departs to Chongwe.

I’m surrounded by what it seems like 100s of people. Each are up to their own thing:
The bus ‘conductor’ is continually screaming Chongwe Chongwe Chongwe at the top of his lungs to try to fill the bus. Some of the passengers are reading the newspaper headlines from today. Others are checking their facebook on the smartphones. Some are sitting and listening to music from the mp3 player and some are just chatting and having breakfast on the bus. There are people selling all types of things and circling the many buses to see if anyone on the bus is interested. Manzi (water), perfume, cookies, lollipops, kit kat, different types of pop, earrings, perfume are just a few today. The music on the bus is blaring as usual. Not sure what its saying but sounds very upbeat lol. There are 100s of buses all jammed in together, separated by less than an inch and all trying to squeeze through any opening to beat the lineup.

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Today as I left our flat at the crack of dawn it is unusually chilly. As it was yesterday as well it’s a sure sign that there will be rainfall coming soon. The sun is out and there isnt a cloud in the sky. The morning is mixed with the sounds of birds chirping, minibus conductors screaming, massive amounts of traffic in each direction, people sweeping their front doorsteps, and children dressed in their school uniforms and walking to school.

Stepping out of the flat (apartment) I was greeted by 4 dogs. Always a bad sign since dogs tend to get pack mentality here when walking the streets/neighbourhoods and have on occasion attacked people. Luckily nothing of the sort for me today!

Walking to the bus station I also walked by the many street vendors selling 2nd hand clothing. They also practice the art of screaming at the top of their lungs to get attention from customers. And prices of clothes this morning sound like they were in the range of $0.50-$1.00 for various shirts and pants.

Didn’t have time to make breakfast and since will be on the bus for the next couple hours I was forced with the limited morning options at the bus station – which means today for breakfast I had a small pack of chocolate cookies and some manzi.

This morning I also had the privilege of reading 3 new blog posts from past EWB CEO Parker Mitchell (http://www.parkermitchell.com/), which explores life in an incredible perspective with amazing self-reflection on the journey that hes going through in his life…and part of the inspiration for this post.

The morning I’m having may sound just a bit crazy and a stark contrast of the typical morning many of us have in North America. As interesting as it is, in a matter of 3 months of me being here it has become such a normal start to the day that I sometimes have to catch myself to take a step back to notice everything that is really happening around me.

And if we take a step back further there are so many more underlying things going on here:

1. The misc vendors at the bus station. They’re everywhere (both at the bus station and all over the city). But you barely find people buying anything from them. this is combined with the fact that their profit margins are substantially low since almost everything they sell is less than Zmk 5,000 (roughly $1). Speaking with one of my friends (and cab drivers, Festus) about the ‘street vendors’ he estimates that they are are making maximum ZMK 40,000-50,000 per day ($8-10). The only problem is that number is total income, NOT taking into account the cost that they are actually paying for the goods (for some reason all of the street vendors, cabs, etc, here dont factor the cost of doing business in their work). After doing a bit of checking we realized that on average most vendors are actually only making net $3-4 each day – or just over $100 each month. Unbelievable considering how expensive of a city Lusaka is and considering that the minimum wage is $160.

2. In our lives there are always so many things going on around us at one given moment. I know personally, for my life in North America, it is so easy to get consumed with news stories (Donald Trump wanting Obama’s passport records, the NHL lockout, what features Windows 8 has, how big is the new iPad mini), twitter, what the latest seasonal Tim Hortons add says, how much carbs/protein/sugar the current meal you’re having has, as well as the stresses at work that day or what the plans are with friends this weekend. Sometimes it’s almost impossible to step back and just ‘observe’ life as its happening around you. Which brings me to the point that always comes back to us. How many of us are 100% present in the life we’re living vs. worrying about the future or thinking about something that happened to us in the past. I know it’s not a new concept at all but it’s something that I think each one of us struggle with no matter where in the world we are.

3. Being a ‘mwenya'(aka brown person) here…something that I laugh with the other EWBers here all the time about! We all live the same life back in Canada but such a difference skin colour makes here. Because Indian people have lived here for years Zambians have been very accustomed to seeing them. For me, this means that I can easily blend in without having every single person stop and want to say hi or without having tons of kids stop and shout ‘muzungu’ (white person) as I walk by. It’s an interesting experience and allows me to live somewhat of a normal life out here, seeing things from a perspective of a regular Zambian walking down the street. Also a huge disconnect with what the other EWBers are going through, as I found out on Wednesday, as we walked around town with the rest of them during Independence Day, where every other person stopped us, wanting to meet us or sell something, or ask for money, or even pet their blonde/brown hair!

There are so many things affecting all of lives, from daily stresses, information overloading, gender roles, race (both skin colour and the ‘rat race of North America’), money, just to name a few. Yet at the end of the day we’re all the same. Today, I challenge everyone to just for a couple minutes take a step back from it all and spend some time making a connection with someone you dont know or would like to know better! Find out what they’re going through today. Whats on their mind. What their family history is. What they’re excited about or nervous about. What they’re doing this weekend. What their dreams are. I know for me, one of the biggest blessings that I have from being here is having the chance to meet so many different people and learn so much from each of them. From the highest Forest Department Official to my favourity taxi driver William, they each have had lasting experience on my life that I wont soon forget.

Feel free to let me know how it goes and share any interesting stories as well!!

Have a good Friday!

A New Day

So where exactly to begin explaining the last 48 hours?

A roller coaster of experiences on my birthday in Zambia topped off with one of the biggest presentations I’ve ever had in my life.

And I know many of you have been been asking how my actual work is going, what exactly is REDD+, and what impact (if any) my project is actually having. So let’s start there…

REDD+ is ‘Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation’. The ‘+’ goes beyond deforestation and forest degradation, and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

REDD is actually a UN based program and has roots from the Kyoto Protocol whereby industrialized countries committed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2% below the levels in 1990 between the years of 2008-2012.

As an incentive to lower the emissions, the Kyoto Protocol developed a ‘Clean Development Mechanism’ (CDM) whereby developed countries can reduce their emissions, and at the same time create a sustainable way of development in developing countries, through certified carbon credits. Simply put, the idea is that a developed country (or organization within that country) can ‘offset’ their excess emissions and buy carbon credits from developing countries. It supports economic growth and incentive in developing countries because these countries can receive financial compensation for preventative measures they are taking in emitting CO2 into the atmosphere. To say the concept is controversial is an understatement (essentially you are creating a new, tradeable currency) but nonetheless the intentions of the programs do make sense and does have the potential to drive growth.

REDD+ is one of the means of creating certifiable carbon credits (though it is not the only way). REDD+ and carbon credits are (for the time being) primarily a ‘voluntary’ market (ie through CSR, etc).

Now theres a few really interesting things about the Kyoto Protocol, REDD+ and carbon credits:

1. USA is the only major developed country to NOT sign on to the protocol
2. As of Dec 2011, Canada has withdrawn from the Kyoto Protocol
3. The Kyoto Protocol expires at the end of 2012. There are many discussions in place for what happens next but nothing is official and with less than 2 months left there will most likely be a gap until the next one is signed.
4. Carbon credits are at an all time low (trading at just over $1USD/credit)
5. REDD+ projects are required to last a minimum of 30 years. Basically the protected forest under your project area cannot be damaged/harvested/deforested etc for 30 years.

With these points in mind, the future is very up in the air…a sad fact since we are talking about a massive global problem that needs to be addressed collectively by all of us. Although the immediate future is not clear, to say we live in a world where nobody looks after the consequences of their waste is also something that I believe is not true.

For my placement with BioCarbon Partners (BCP), our initiative, ‘The Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project’, is actually the first REDD+ project in the history of the country. With major REDD+ support from the govt it puts us at an interesting spot in the limelight! At the same time, we are tackling one of the main roots of deforestation – charcoaling – head on. The 30 year minimum, in an area where there is so much generational change and volatility (esp around govt and policy) also puts an added pressure on the entire project!

My specific focus on the project is in tackling the problem of charcoaling, and its root causes. Over the last few months I have worked with BCP to develop innovative ways in achieving a more efficient and sustainable way of charcoaling, and a business plan around it, that doesn’t contribute to deforestation. A combination of on-the-ground field work with local villagers, applying some of my chemical engineering background in understanding how kilns work, and helping to develop a business strategy on how we can implement the project has been unbelievable. We have made significant progress, topped off with a presentation to officially kick-off our project this past Thursday to our biggest stakeholders (incl. USAID, senior Forest Department officials, UN representatives,  the District Council, The Royal Chief of the Soli Tribe, our partner organization Musika, just to name a few). Now the stressful part was that I was helping to organize the entire event (with dreams of EWB National Conference 2012 still swirling in my head) as well as delivering a 45min presentation on how we intend to sustainable charcoal, or as we call it ‘eco-charcoal’. To say it would be the biggest presentation of my life is an understatement!

So I woke up on Thursday morning here:

As of the night before, this is my new place in Lusaka for the next few weeks as I set up a few protocols/training docs/etc for our eco-charcoal project. Yes it’s the living room/dining room and my bedroom! It is also the legendary Kabwata Flats where EWBers have been staying for years while on placements here in Zambia…and the other two EWBers here now, Katie and Chelsea, are also staying here!

And before I knew it I was jumping in a mini-bus on the way to my presentation!

Surprisingly, ‘Zambian Time’ did not exist that day and we actually managed to start on time. After a welcoming speech from the Guest of Honour – (the Royal Chief of the Soli tribe), an introduction from the Forest Department, and a few presentations from the BCP Directors I was up next…And here is my presentation (I hope it makes sense without the commentary but please ask me any questions if you have any):

And I’m glad to say that everything went without a hitch (yes I know there are a couple of typos)….but it went exactly as planned with high interest and open interaction from all of the attendees. And with that BCP, the community, the District, and the Forest Department are now all on the same page and they are on board with our project. Now just to implement…which is obviously not as simple as it sounds but with govt backing, community engagement, and a deeper understanding and support from our investors things are definitely looking up!

So with my biggest presentation successfully passed, it was now time to relax and celebrate!

Waiting for a couple of friends to finish off work before grabbing dinner, Chelsea, Katie and I decided to check out the brand spanking new ‘Radisson BLU’. Probably the most luxurious hotel in the city that just recently opened after taking 4+ years to build. As you can tell at a place like this you can hardly believe you’re in Zambia:

Walking to the restaurant for dinner along the main road, Great East Rd, traffic was blaring as usual on a weeknight. But before we knew it, the next thing we heard less than 10 metres in front of us was a massive accident. A car trying to beat the oncoming traffic had rushed and indadvertedly hit a motorcycle. One of the scariest things I have ever seen, the motorcycle was literally torn to shreds with pieces of the bike actually flying towards us. The next thing we see is the cyclist 5ft in the air and skidding towards us along the pavement. After 20-30min which seemed like an eternity, we were glad to see that, except for a few cuts and slightly injured leg (not cuts), the motorcyclist seemed ok (speaking normally and was present) and he was taken to the hospital just to double check things. The situation could’ve turned out MUCH worst but luckily no one was severely injured. An extremely scary site to witness as road accidents are rampant in the country and also for the fact that the next day I was going to the Road Safety Transport Authority (RTSA) to get my provisional motorbike license.

With the three of us a bit shaken up about what had just happened we slowly headed to dinner to meet Jeffrey and Brian. A very surreal dinner seeing how unpredictable life can be, but at the same time, an extreme blessing to have the opportunity to celebrate a birthday around the world with close friends.

And so with one of the most unpredictable days I’ve ever had closing off the first 25 years of my life, I was back ‘home’ safe and sound. My new roommates had also decided to spare me from the ‘traditional Zambian birthday’ of dumping a huge bucket of water on me after such a crazy day.

The next day I spent walking 6km in the 35C and about 5 hours at the RTSA office. After seeing about 15 different staff members trying to get a provisional permit, it was only then found out that you can’t receive a Zambian provisional license if you are in the country for less than a year! But at the same time, found out that my Canadian license should be fine for the time I am here!

So after having to keep my patience up I made it back to the office where my client had treated me to a special birthday cake!

Coming home from work Kabwata had our regular Friday night 5pm-8pm power outage. And this meant spending some hanging out with the kids in the Flats. Maybe the cutest kids I’ve ever met, Joy and Samual, I spent the evening with them and their mom, Inivea,  chatting and finding out what games they like to play.

Once power was back on we made our way to the market to get some food for a Braai that we were invited to by our Zambian friend Daisy. Taking out some money from the local bank, Zanaco, proved to be an issue as the power again cut while in the middle of my transaction and my Visa got eaten by the machine. Luckily this is a pretty common thing so on Monday I should hopefully get it back without any issues.

As I pass the halfway point in my placement, I can’t believe I’ve already been here for over 10 weeks. The amount of experiences (both personal and work) have been incredible. Literally anything and everything could happen on a given day, and its been an exciting shift to learning how to ‘roll with the punches’ and be ready and open-minded for anything that comes your way. A huge test on patience on some days but also an exciting ride! Definitely a big shift from the very structured and organized life of North America.

There is also still so much to achieve in my project as I shift from working in the business to on the business to make sure the BDS work has an ‘exit-strategy’ where we are not engrained in the business but allow it to thrive and carry on without us.

And as much as I look forward to coming home for Christmas, it also sad to know that I will be leaving here soon, a place that has quickly begun to feel like home in its own way.