April 2019 we were given the opportunity to stay in Miloso Zambia for a few weeks. This time me and my husband Egbert were joined by part of my family, my sister Herma, niece Marjon and her boyfriend Leroy. This trip, on request of our local friends, we were able to assist in developing a working water supply in this village.
To realize a working waterline in several weeks’ preparations needed to be executed before our arrival. This list was communicated before our visit, so the locals were able to start. We were very impressed with the work that was already done when we arrived. A well with a depth of 60 meters was struck, a house was built for the water-pump, and they dug 400 meters of trench for the waterpipes.
The further installing of the waterpipes was realized by Leroy and Egbert together with 6 local men that called themselves ‘’the plumbers’’. The long workdays started with coffee and tea at 8 in the morning, around noon there was time for lunch and we were able to eat together. Lunch usually consisted of a ball of maize flour with vegetables called Shima. During these shared meals stories from life in the Netherlands and life in Miloso were shared. Beautiful to be able to share and learn from each other.
In these times of hard work or around dinner we had a lot of fun, especially one of the plumbers named Francis, who is a real crowd pleaser. When the food was ready he always said ”Lekker, lekker” (Eng.: nice food, nice food), and Dennis, another plumber, often spoke the typical Dutch words ”Mooi man” (Eng.: nice man).
The water supply consisted of a water-pump, connected to several pipes which made it possible to create functioning toilets and showers as well as five different water taps in the area of the secondary school to provide 25 families easy access to water.
Happy faces when everything seemed to work, hearing the water fall in the water tank, water in the showers and toilets, water from the water taps. So ordinary for us, for the people in Miloso a miracle. ‘’It’s amazing’’ is what we heard them say multiple times.
We find it very important to work together with the locals, so if in the future reparations are needed they can fix it themselves. That is why we awarded every person who participated in the project with a ‘’Plumber’s certificate’’. When we handed over these certificates everyone was very proud. One in particular, Piason, a wonderful man of 63 years old made a trip around the village to show his certificate to everyone who wanted to see with pride and a big smile on his face.
Herma and Marjon, when they were not participating in the project, were able to experience different other local initiatives. One day they were able to join the voluntary organization ‘’Semba home based care’’. This church bound voluntary group helps everyone who requires help or care at home, like the chronic ill. The volunteers visit these families and support them in any way possible, for instance by assisting with self-care, doing laundry, cooking, or fetching water. What is most admirable, this organization shows these people that the community and the church did not forget about them, and that God will always be there. They spread hope and courage by joining in prayer.
These volunteers walk from family to family, long distances even at the hottest moments of the day. They told us they once had bicycles which made the distances more accessible, but they broke down and no one knows how to fix them. It would be wonderful if we are able to make it possible for this organization to have functioning bikes again.
A couple of time we were able to assist in the health-post in Miloso. It was peak time in malaria season because of the end of the rain season. We tested a lot of people, a lot were tested positive, and some people were very sick. Fortunately a medicine was present which can make most of the patients better. On other days we were able to assist with vaccinating children against diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, and polio. Long lines of women with their children stood outside waiting with their children for this possible life saving vaccine. Never mad or irritated by the fact that sometimes they had to wait for several hours. Our extra hands were able to help speed through this line and support the one nurse present. My hours in this Health post made me think about how grateful we get to be with the healthcare in the Netherlands.
During our stay we also joined a music-class in the high school, where we were touched by the beautiful voices of the students. How we admire the force and courage of these people. Music was also played a large part in the church. Every Sunday we joined the locals to the church, where we were welcomed by everyone with open arms. This very special event was filled with a lot of beautiful music and voices from the choir, something none of us ever experienced before.
One of the last days we visited Francis in his home. Proudly and with a big smile of his face the showed us his family, his house, and the rest of his property. He was most proud of the corridor he made in his house, as he was sure to be the only person in Miloso with a corridor as the entrance of his house. We make a few family pictures which are being shipped to Miloso as we speak together with some other pictures from the wonderful times we had in this village.
In our eyes, the Dutch eyes, these people have nothing, and still we see them share every little thing. Everywhere we went locals offered us food and drinks, which made us feel burdened to take something of the little they had.
This ‘Africa adventure’ made us aware of the big difference it makes where you are born and raised, and that despite ‘poverty’ people can be happy with whatever they have.
This was (again) a special trip, where I am grateful for the warmth and generosity of our friends in Miloso. We were able to learn a lot and hope to see these amazing people again soon.
Marjon, Leroy, Herma, Egbert and Dinie.