Observations on Life in Mtendere East Compound

~ In the span of under one hour, a woman balances on her head a full five gallon bucket of water and walks over two hundred yards to her home. She does this at least six times.
~ A man walks down the road proudly holding a dead rooster in his hand. Dinner?
~ Lots of school age children enjoying playground equipment, but not attending school. Most likely because their parents cannot afford the cost.
~ The light haze and smell of charcoal wafting throughout the day.
~ A mama doing laundry on the dirt curb outside her home in two big buckets, air drying the clothes on a line on the side of her small two room house.
~ Too many young children to count who do not have shoes – a requirement to attend school.
~ Cars and trucks playing “chicken” on a narrow dirt road atop a dathat has burning garbage on one steep side and metal roofed shanties on the other.
~ No “poor me” pity parties. By anyone. Ever.
~ An entrepreneurial based economy – small privately owned road side businesses set up in metal roof lean-to’s with cardboard signs and plastic blue tarps for walls.
~ Dirt roads peppered with moguls the size of small VW bugs and protruding microwave sized chunks of rock.
~ A school called Shine Zambia Reading Academy that anchors the compound by providing education to their children, adult classes in the afternoon, a playground that keeps the kids out of dangerous streets, a worship location for two churches on Sundays, and the only library for miles that is accessible to all.

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3 thoughts on “Observations on Life in Mtendere East Compound

  1. Your observations are clear and descriptive – vivid enough to bring back memories of being there. What at first appears dismal and depressing turns out to be full of life. One of my most indelible memories is the babes in falling down diapers and bare feet picking through the steaming garbage heaps, and the straggly stalks of corn growing among the debris. Side dish for the rooster dinner?

  2. Oh, the eyes of an outsider. They see so much more than those who live in a place day in and day out. I remember a year ago seeing some of those same scenes. And realizing what I take for granted- running water, shoes, a washer. I do love my laundry lines, though! That and a great deal more do I have in common with the Zambian people.

  3. So true. The memories are coming in clearly now. That dang rooster woke me every morning at the first peek from the sun. And nobody better touch those chickens running around with their chicks, they are somebody else’s property. With all of that being viewed while on the car ride into Shine, the library is the place most vivid in my mind. Lined with books, it is the place so many congregate to learn and loose themselves in a book or to play a literacy game like Scrabble. Thanks to so many who have contributed, it has grown into quite a library.

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