June 1: From Livingstone to Lusaka with a stop at The Haven

Today we woke to have breakfast at 7:45 (for some reason Chanters Lodge has trouble getting the breakfast orders correct for everyone!). Anyway – breakfast, followed by check-out and William was there early so we all piled into the bus for the long trip back to Lusaka.

As we approached Kalomo….past the yellow courthouse buildings on the left and we clearly saw the board for the Namwianga Mission and started down the jolting dirt road to visit the orphanage called The Haven. Past the Health Centre and then we turned left at the next sign….but Meagan (our contact person) had said to go straight so I called her. William had to reverse (the driving skills here are impressive especially with a big bus!) and we then took what we thought was the “straight” road that would lead us to the Haven – not so! William stepped out to ask a family at a house and we finally found a lady who knew what we were asking. We entered from the side and a kind young lady walked us to The Haven.

There we first met a young American lady who has been there a month and was holding an infant. She took us to the “language class” where we met the amazing Meagan. With a big drum she was playing a rhythm as she called out each child’s name speaking in Tonga, and they got up and danced for a minute and then went up to her and got a large lollipop! She was also prompting them with “The Lord is our _____”, and some of them even the “Our Father….” and they completed the words.

Then Meagan left that group and took us on a tour and told us about herself and we learned what a remarkable woman she is!! She is from the US, but has been living in Zambia for 7 years. She works with the children – they get the kids from the Zambian Social Service or the Police when a mother dies leaving behind a baby. Their goal is to care for the children, make sure they are healthy and attempt to get them back to a family member (grandparent, aunt or uncle etc.). The facilities are impressive – there are three houses, the aunties who take care of the children are amazing Zambian women, and the philosophy is to prepare the children to go back to their family in the village – so they eat the traditional Zambian dish of nshima three times a day just as they would at home, and learn to eat communally from a bowl, also as they would at home. Meeting these remarkable people (and visiting the Haven again) once again helps me realize how small and insignificant I am among these remarkable individuals who have given their life to care for these children. Meagan was so kind and walked us back to our bus and accepted the small token we had brought for the children – again so insignificant compared to what they are doing for the children. It is truly inspiring and a very special privilege for us to be able to visit such facilities and hear about the work they do. (Sorry – no photos out of respect to the children and the facility that we just visited for a short time).

Next stop was at a roadside market to buy ground nuts (peanuts), which we ate along with fruit for our lunch on the bus.

Peanuts: only 1 kwacha per bag!

Peanuts: only 1 kwacha per bag!

Another stop at Tooters for the nice clean pay toilets ad then on to Lusaka. Some students amused themselves playing cards on the bus….

Students playing cards in the bus on the long journey

Students playing cards in the bus on the long journey

We reached Lusaka at about 5pm, and it took us more than an hour to get to the mall where we wanted to eat and get groceries – traffic in Lusaka sure has worsened more than 100% over the past 4 years. Poor William tried various routes but no matter which way we tried we were stuck in a long line of traffic.

We ate a quick dinner and shopped for our lunches for the next few days and as always our large jugs of water. When we went back to the bus we had a surprise – we had the pleasure of meeting William’s wife Rachel. It was a pleasure to meet her and chat with her for a few minutes.

We had a pow-wow tonight after a two-day hiatus over the fun weekend. The students’ comments:

  • They really enjoyed the fun weekend and it was a good break
  • They enjoyed seeing the Zambian countryside; after the week in urban Lusaka, they finally got a glimpse of rural Zambia including villages and huts

There were also many comments about our visit to The Haven:

  • About feeling sad upon hearing that before The Haven was established, babies were buried with their mothers because otherwise they would probably starve to death without the mother to feed them
  • About seeing first hand how the lack of access to pre-natal and peri-natal care leaves babies orphaned
  • And positive comments about how the children were well fed and taken care of; and being helped with language classes and other things to get them back to their families
  • And of course the great aunties taking care of the children at the orphanage and how Meagan gave them so much credit for all their hard work
  • About Meagan:
    • “It takes a special person to do what she does: take the children in, love them and then release them back to their families, knowing that they may not survive”

A true privilege to be able to stop and meet the folks at The Haven!


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. sibks
    Jun 02, 2015 @ 02:01:57

    I am following your trip from afar and enjoy your posts and photos so much. I found the description of the Haven and the aunties and babies and your experience there profoundly moving and heartbreaking and inspiring. Thank you for writing it and sharing it with all of us.


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