Wednesday, 9 January 2008


i hope the wait was worth it. i finally decided to post about my africa trip.

it was a hard trip. i learned a bunch of things.
  1. namibia is freakin awesome. it is my next african vacation destination
  2. i will never ever travel for work between mid-november and new years. that is sacred time. things slow down, people get together, you remember why you like all the people you work with, etc. i needed that time. not getting it was bad.
  3. sometimes people aren't what they seem (should have figured that out eons ago)
this is a sunrise from my hotel balcony.

after all the excitement of world aids day, the team left early one morning to luapula to check out one of the new partners from the new partners initiative (if you'd like to see a map, please click here. i made it especially for you.)

we chartered a plane because the drive would have taken us one full day and it being rainy season it meant we could really get stuck. really.

here is our plane and our pilot, graham
i had no idea that graham and i would get to sit so close

i sat in the co-pilot's seat.
please note that i have introduced cowboy boots into my business dress
i was so paranoid i was going to touch something and make us crash

i think the others were too

these didn't really work that well

here we are flying.
see that little box in the window.
that is a garmin gps.
like my watch.
that is how graham navigated.
this was seriously bar bones.

some areal shots

this is near ndola
i was really curious about these houses that were decimated
graham didn't know what the story was
ndola is the copper belt
much of the world's copper comes from here

we landed in ndola because there was no fuel in lusaka
the flight to ndola was terrifying
it started to rain so hard that you couldn't see anything
plus all the broken dials on the "dashboard"
and then rain started leaking into the plane
i almost asked praya to hold her hand.

we visited a one of the luapula foundation's sites
they are an amazing organization
i will be writing a case study about them soon.
they have been funded (by PEPFAR) to take care of orphans and vulnerable children

the white woman in the back is a former peace corps volunteer.
she decided to join peace corps a couple of years after her husband died.
they had always planned on joining the peace corps and so she decided to live their dream
she quit her job as a nurse and went to work in luapula zambia
she quickly noticed that their were children who were parentless due to AIDS who severely needed help
she started working on community organizing and such
her peace corps commitment ended and she extended to establish the luapula foundation
she extended a few more times
they got some funding and she had to decide if she was going to move back to new orleans
or stay in the deepest part of zambia
she decided to stay
no she and the woman standing near the food are good friends

she has facilitated the training of mary and others like her in sustainable agriculture techniques
they teach composting, solar dehydration of fruits, etc.
they also teach them to utilize the high in protein foods that are grown naturally there
most people don't each much of it.

that table is full of high protein vegetarian food
we pigged out.
it was delicious and distinctly african
and it is sustainable

mary's crop had twice as much yield as her neighbors who do the zambian gov't sponsored
chemical fertilizer project
now many of her neighbors are learning from her how to compost etc.
super cool!

as a result she is able to care for about 12 children!

after this awesome visit we went to see another peace corps volunteer right on the border with the democratic republic of congo (see the map above)

this is peace corps volunteer elizabeth showing off all the yoga she has taught the neighbor kids

she took us to the swimming hole/border/river
all the kids in the village came

the feet that lead us

later that night we had dinner with all the peace corps volunteers in the area.
it was super fun!
thanks again!!
the food was spectacular.

we woke up bright and early to catch our plane out

the runway was only partially paved....
this is the runway

there were all sorts of weird environmental things going on
which were much more noticeable in the air
here is an oil refinery and its smoke blowing

this is a river that is running black with some kind of muck
i am not sure if you can see how black it is and where the soil kinda sneaks up through the muck?

no one knows what this is
something to do with copper?

some other random thing of foundations and carved out property
graham didn't know what was going on with that either
thanks for nothing!

we hurried back to lusaka to get to another site visit with this guy

it was kinda a fruitless meeting

after the meeting we had some time to get some other work done
yeah! other work!!!!

this is a storm moving in over lusaka at dusk from my hotel balcony.
it was way more awesome than it looks here

this is my delegation with our CDC staff and the chreso ministries
one of the largest ART/VCT providers in lusaka

later we visited the R.A.P.I.D.S. program, run by a great colleague bruce wilkenson
RAPIDS is a consortium of larger donors (world vision being one of them)
here we are checking out the bikes that the volunteers who provide
essential palliative care drive around country roads
carrying life saving supplies

does this look fun?
i don't think OSHA would approve...

what would your community do if this was installed in the neighborhood school or park?

this bike weighs about 100 lbs...
they are awesome!
but not great for triathloning

i loved this shirt
from left to right top row:
an awesome woman whose name i can't remember, ruth our USG controller for the day, carl the USAID program manager, and bruce wilkinson
unfortunately i don't remember anyone elses names...

caregivers and orphans

i decided i was going to make a collection of all the beautiful women i meet in far away places
i guess i feel like there is this erronious stereotype that beautiful people are rich
that the poor are not like us
and that the beautiful are just not living in a villiage in the middle of zambia
(or wherever)
i want to show the world that beauty is everywhere
this woman is a mother of 3 and is caring for 5 children who are orphaned
is she a powerhouse of good or what?

i am skipping lots of stuff.
but you get the jist...
we left for namibia that friday...

praya trying to repack her bags to make her flight
her bag weighed about 90lbs.
mostly because of the medal baobab tree she bought

flying to namibia

susan and i were immeditately super excited to be in namibia
something about the place just felt awesome
in the back you can see mike totally stressing out
but holding his basket

this was just above the passport stamping desk
i think it means you have to unload your guns there?
i am still not sure...
more later.


Dianna said...

Your photos are beautiful (and scary)!!! How cool to know that the garmin watch can read your heartrate, program a workout, AND fly a plane. Vint will be so impressed and jealous.

You are right--there's no need for you to spend December in Africa EVER AGAIN.

ginger said...

The dunes look Flippin Sweet. Glad no one broke their coccyx.