Ntekete Library

Though I lived for 2 years in Chalata, the area I served most was Ntekete, just a few kilometers to the northeast. Fortunately, I’ve been replaced by another Peace Corps Volunteer, Patricia. Patricia lives in a different location, within Ntekete, and has continued working on projects I helped start, in addition to many new projects. I’d like to take this time now to tell you about the Library/Community Resource Center Patricia is working on.

The Library is currently being constructed adjacent to the Ntekete School. The school is a simple building with mud-brick walls and a grass roof. There are no books, and even if they had books, where would they keep them so they’re safe from the rain, termites and rats? Believe me, rats and termites will chew through anything if given half a chance! I think we all see the need for books in education. This summer I had the privilege of spending some time with my 2-year old nephew and it seems he already has more books than most children in Ntekete will ever have in their whole life! English is the official language of Zambia and it is required for students to learn English. However, the reality is that most students only gain a rudimentary understanding of the English language. With Bemba being the only language spoken at home and with few to no books to read, it’s not hard to see why learning English in the village is so hard. However, these people are subsistence farmers and now pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers are becoming available. If you have ever used these any of these products you will understand the importance of following the directions – directions that, even in Zambia, are written in English. That’s just one of example of many as to why the ability to read the official language is important.

In addition to holding books for the school, the Library will also provide material that focuses on conservation farming, agroforestry, nutrition, malaria and HIV/AIDS, among others. Though many adults can not read, there are several that can, and, if resources are available, the opportunity for farmers teaching other farmers, villagers teaching other villagers will arise. I remember one Wednesday morning with the Ntekete Farmer’s Club. One young man had bought a book from me the week before and was telling the others about what it said and how it was a very good book. It brought joy to my heart knowing that he’d actually been reading the book, and then was sharing the information he had learned to help others improve their gardening. That’s how knowledge is spread – from person to person. Currently, villagers don’t have access to any library… or the interne (in case you forgot they don’t have power, running water or computers).

The Recourse Center will also be a building that different community groups can use. There will be 3 rooms – one main room for general use with chalk board and permanent shelves. In the back there will be 2 smaller rooms. One will be an office store room while the other will be a general store room with wooden lock boxes for different groups to keep supplies for the meetings and workshops. For example, the Chalata Rural Health Clinic will be able to leave a scale and other supplies in a lock box for their frequent under-5 clinics when they weigh and asses the health of children.

I hope I’ve been able to share with you part of my excitement for this project. There is a real need, and, for me, it’s personal. I love the men and women of Ntekete and I know this is a building that will be well-used, much appreciated and benefit the entire community for years to come. However, this project is only possible with YOUR help! Many community members are providing all the labor, free of charge, but Patricia is asking for donations to purchase building materials. So far, $3,500 has been raised, but another $2,500 is needed to complete this project. If you’ve ever wanted to reach out to malnourished children in Africa. If you’ve ever wanted to help teach someone to read. If you’ve ever wanted to make a positive impact in Africa, here is a great opportunity for you! Your money will go directly to the construction of the Library/Resource Center.

If you would like to give, please send me an email to:


Though here in Livingstone I have better access to a computer and email than Patricia, please feel free to also contact her with any questions about this library project:


A big thank you to all that have already contributed, and thank you to all that are considering sending a contribution! I will try to send frequent updates as the building progresses. For now, here are a few pictures of the school and beginning of the Library.

Ntekete School

Ntekete School

Children at Ntekete School

Children at Ntekete School

Students in the Classroom

Students in the Classroom

Library Planning Meeting

Library Planning Meeting

New Library Site

New Library Site

There and Back Again

Wow! My last blog entry was in February, more than seven months ago! It was never my intent to stop posting, it just… happened… I’ll blame it on culture shock… I’ll try to give you a quick update as to where I’ve been and where I’m headed. I hope I’ll have the chance for many more updates in the future.

Ring-Out and Beyond

On April 18th, 2013 my Peace Corps service came to an official close with a casual ring-out ceremony at the Peace Corps office in Lusaka. It was a joyous, yet sad occasion. It would be the last time my intake, LIFE and RED 2011, would be all together. It was a time for saying farewells to our Peace Corps cohort, Peace Corps staff, Lusaka, Zambia and Africa. It marked the end of a great chapter, and the beginning of something new. Some of my friends have extended to stay another year with the Peace Corps in Zambia. I, like most, was headed back home to the states, but not before a bit of traveling. In a nutshell, here’s where I went (perhaps another time I’ll be able to go into more detail): My first stop was a bus ride with fellow returning PCVs Andrew, Deanna and Larry to Mongu, Western Province to see the Kuomboka ceremony of the Lozi people. From there I headed south to Livingstone, where Andrew and I took the ferry into Botswana and took a series of buses, eventually arriving in Johannesburg, South Africa. In Johannesburg Andrew and I rented a small car and began our adventure driving through South Africa. After brief, but wonderful trip in South Africa I flew back to the states, landing in Seattle on May 9th.

Ring Out

Ring-out with ba Don, head of the LIFE Project

Culture Shock

They say returning home to the states after Peace Corps service is harder than flying from the states to the host country. This turned out to be true for me as well, with culture shock starting at the Chicago airport. After landing, the airplane just kept on going and going, taxiing across a seemingly endless airport! Then, after exiting the plane, I had to take a train to a different part of the airport! Twice I was asked to step back and wait in line – first when waiting to get my boarding pass, then again at customs – “Please sir, step back behind the line.” In Zambia, if there’s space, you just walk right up to the counter until you’re served. Leaving any space in front means you’ll never get served as others will keep “cutting” in front.

It was really good to be back home in Oregon. There were so many things I missed doing. In many ways I felt very fortunate, to come home to a wonderful family and begin working immediately with my dad. I wasn’t looking for a place to stay or for work. It seems like the perfect transition! However, I could not help seeing the consumer culture of Americans, including myself. We have so much stuff. So much unnecessary stuff! I’m still in the midst of processing this. What really is necessary, and what isn’t? What is beneficial, what is a distraction? What should be done, what should be left be?

Time. Time was one thing I missed most from Zambia. Even though I was always busy in Zambia, I felt like I had a good balance of work and recreation. However, my Oregon summer has just flown by. Though I did get to take some time off for some purely fun activities, my schedule was always rushed. I longed for the time I had in the village when I was able to just relax and enjoy life. I missed the evenings when I’d sit in my “lazy-man-chair” sipping hot tea, listening to soft music (which was surely not every night, but some nights.) I remember dad suggesting to me I should take some time off. Though I would have liked to have taken more time off, I was thinking of heading back to Zambia. I longed to go back, but it’s not like I can just ride my bike there. I’d have to work and save my money in order to make the trip possible.

Another part of my culture shock was the adjustment. Many friends and family would ask me how I’m adjusting. I know you all mean well, and wanted to genuinely know how I was doing, but to me, adjustment is something different. Adjustment is done when something is not quite right. An engine running poorly, a rubbing brake pad – those are things that need adjustment. But me? Was there something wrong (as a result of my time in Zambia) that needed to be fixed? True, I had changed in Zambia. I learned so much there. I now think differently and see things differently, but adjustment makes me think of reverting back to my old views, old ways, old habits. No! I have changed! I haven’t adjusted! I don’t need to adjust! I won’t adjust!

Now, I do not mean to offend any of you that asked how I was adjusting. I do not take offense and I do appreciate the concern. Indeed, some adjustments are necessary. Going back to the mechanical analogy, an engine may need the carburetor adjusted when operating at a higher elevation. Brake pads on a bike may need to be repositioned as they get worn. Adjustment is often required due to different surroundings and is part of the design. Another way to look at adjustment, in a more positive way, is continual refinement. My body must adjust to the weather. I must wait in lines rather than crowd the counter. I must get used to making choices, or be forever overwhelmed with too many options – too much technology, too many foods, too many clothes, too many… So, am I adjusted? No, I am adjusting.

Back to Zambia

After enjoying the Oregon summer, I’ve come back to Zambia! I arrived back in Lusaka September 29th. It is wonderful to be here. I feel like I’m back home, on familiar ground. I haven’t come back as part of Peace Corps, but will be using many of the skills and knowledge I learned as a volunteer to help with Dan and Regina Bumstead of Love’s Door. My focus will again be agroforestry, conservation farming, gardening, and, of course, helping out wherever I can. I’m only here in Zambia for three months, so I’ll be back home for Christmas!

Cheers from Zambia!

Two More Months to COS

In two months my Peace Corps service will officially close and I’ll be on my way back home to Oregon! This is both a very sad and happy thought. I will greatly miss the friends that I’ve made here – the wonderful friends I’ve made in the village, with the Peace Corps staff, and my fellow PCV colleagues. Not only will I be saying goodbye to these countless friends, but I’ll also be re-entering American culture. I’m told that going back to the states is generally a bigger culture shock than entering the country of service. After living in Zambia for more than two years I believe it. The technology and consumerism of America can be very overwhelming compared to living in a mud and grass hut.

I sometimes wonder how I will cope when I return. Will I go through something like PTSD? Of course I can’t answer this question until I get there. I will be returning home to wonderful friends and family, so that should help, but, despite how much you care about me, you won’t understand. My experience can only be shared through like experience. I can talk about what I’ve done and show pictures, but you will never really, truly understand. I’m telling you this now for two reasons. First, to help prepare myself, and second, to help prepare you.

I do have one advantage not all volunteers have. I have several Peace Corps friends here in Zambia from the Portland area, so I’ll have the opportunity so see them from time to time and talk about the “good ole days” in Zambia! In fact, I may do some traveling with one of these friends before returning home, so… I don’t yet know when I’ll be returning to the USA, but it will probably be sometime in May. I’ve hardly left the country and while I’m here in Africa I’d like to see some of the neighboring countries.

Enough of that, now current/recent news

With my time as a PCV drawing to a close I am extra busy. There’s a bunch of administrative stuff I have to get done. This means I don’t expect to have another blog entry until I return home to Oregon. Of course I might find the time, but now my limited time at a computer will be used to write my reports. Also, my time with friends here is more important to me than working on my blog. I do want to keep all of you informed, but the time with friends I have made here is limited and precious.

January 26th I wasn’t feeling well and checked my blood for malaria. It was positive so I began my three-day treatment – a series of pills that have to be taken twice a day. There was a 12-hour period that I felt pretty awful so I went down to Lusaka just as a precaution. However, I didn’t need any further medication and I had a speedy recovery. I felt fully recovered in less than a week. However, this did delay my birthday vacation.

February 7th I began on my trip up to Luapula Province to visit some friends, waterfalls and a huge lake. There is not much traffic in Luapula, so I decided I would ride my bike. This topic could be an entire post of its own, but, in short, I rode my bike more than 800 kilometers in 10 days. The longest stretch was day 3 when I rode 219 kilometers with Jesse from his house to Lake Bangweulu, Samfya. I can’t say I enjoyed that ride – much of it was more like torture over very flat, straight, asphalt on a mountain bike. I much prefer hills, twists and turns to make it more interesting. But the pain was worth the reward and the next day I relaxed at the beautiful lake without once getting on my bike! After a day of rest we rode 85 km to Mansa. From Mansa I continued on my own further north as far as Ntumbachushi falls, riding anywhere from 24 to 135 km each day. On my return south I did some riding but took transport when available. Yesterday I was in Serenje and didn’t ride at all. Today I have some traveling to do and don’t know how far I’ll end up riding my bike. I hope I don’t have to ride far as I’m looking forward to more than one day of rest for my legs to fully recuperate. So, other than a short bout of malaria and sore thighs I’m doing well!

That’s all for now.  I’ll leave you with three pictures from my trip. See some of you in a few months!

Jesse and I at lake Bangwelu Saturday night after riding 219 kilometers

Jesse and I at lake Bangweulu Saturday night after riding 219 kilometers

Lake Bangwelu Sunday Evening

Lake Bangweulu Sunday Evening

One of the many falls at Ntumbachushi Falls

One of the many falls at Ntumbachushi Falls