As we drove 80 km into the bush, villages became more remote and isolated. The roads became bumpier and more muddy. We saw small clusters of huts where two or three families lived together. The communities were very poor, cooking on charcoal and log fires and until recently walking many kilometres to reach water each day. Each community had a small amount of livestock with a few chickens, goats and cattle and grew maize and a few vegetables to live on. Their main meal of the day is Shima (ground maize made into a paste) with soup, together with roasted maize.
The villagers honoured our visit by killing a chicken and cooking a meal for us to share. This was sacrificial for them as they have so little but they wanted to make us feel welcome as it was a special occasion. At first the children were afraid of us as most of them had never seen a white person before but once they realised we were not that scary they wanted to shake our hands and have their picture taken.
To show how much the new borehole meant to them, they would not begin using it until they had finished building a protective fence around it to stop the animals from drinking from it and infecting it. The villagers showed us the shallow well from which they had been drinking. The well was used by livestock and was fly infested and open to runoff from animals and humans. The villagers stir it to make the debris disperse before drawing water from it and drinking it.
The new borehole will not only supply clean pure water, but will also reduce infection, improve everyone’s health and wellbeing and will save many hours of carrying water from the nearest source of water at a school 3 kilometres away, or the river 10 kilometres away. The 30 families who will use this new borehole have set up a committee to maintain the borehole, and will train everyone in the village about good sanitation and water management. This will be life changing for the over 200 people who will use it.
We also celebrated with the Mapore Brethren in Christ Church in Choma, which was a lively 3 hour service, with Helen preaching to over 200 people, and then every person shook hands with each other! The pastor also hosted us in his home, again providing chicken, soup, greens and Shima. Our driver, Situmbeko, turned out to be a Zambian Gospel singer, who appeared on TV giving his testimony and performing his latest single!