Moving into the Host Home

Saturday 4th July 2015:

Okay so I know this is a little late, we are 2 weeks into the placement and this must be the only time alone I have had the whole trip, so here it goes. I am sitting here in my host home in Woodlands, Lusaka, which I share with 5 other volunteers (4 girls and 1 guy), that we have christened the Big Brother house, for obvious reasons – most of the other homes are shared by only two volunteers – and reflecting upon the past fortnight.

Before coming to Zambia I was mentally preparing myself for what was to come ahead of me; eating less food, no running water, no electricity and hot, sweaty, sleepless nights. However, apart from the odd blackout, which only lasts 6 hours (and no not from alcohol, the electricity), the rest of it has not exactly been how I expected! Perhaps a few of the other volunteers have experienced some of the above, but for us, Mrs Gertrude has provided an amazing home away from home. We are being treated with an endless amount of Zambian cuisine (with help from head chefs, Chingawa and I) and are supplied with 3 toilets, 2 showers, 2 bedrooms, 6 ducks and a 2 month old puppy called Dusty, who I’m pretty sure Amanda is going to kidnap and take back to Edinburgh (that’s if she doesn’t leave her luggage in Johannesburg again!).

Mrs Gertrude lives with her nephew and 2 sons, who are all adults. On the first day, one of the sons took me and Amanda out to a few local markets, where we bumped into the ex-vice president Guy Scott (not that I recognised him), and got our first real insight into the hustle and bustle of a Saturday in Lusaka – I’m starting to get used to the stares and murmurs of ‘Mazungu Mazungu’ (white man, white man) at this point.

After spending an ‘intimate’ first week at Golden Days, spending 24/7 with 23 other volunteers sharing unpredictable bunk beds, dysfunctional toilet doors, unstable showers, a questionable swimming pool, motivational talks, business planning, ‘thinking without a box’ inspirational discussions and experiencing the delicious Zambian dishes Chef Dave had to offer; we were all set for what lay ahead in the next 10 weeks of this once in a life time experience. We had formed strong bonds with each other; sharing the same open mindedness and excitement at learning each other’s culture and joining forces to share ideas and experiences to help these small/medium businesses we were each assigned.

Those ‘Golden Days’ all seem a bit of a blur already, and I think I can speak for everyone and say we were all quite shocked at how close we had become after spending such little time together. However, I feel I am lucky in the sense that I am now living with 5 other ‘house mates’ in the ‘Zambia Big Brother House’; each one of us has a different background and we’re all learning a lot about each other. I brought a couple of books and DVD’s with me as I was sure I’d have a lot of time to myself in the evenings; but this really isn’t the case. Most of my ‘free time’ when I’m not working is spent either cooking, having interesting/random conversations with housemates or Mrs Gertrude, and laughing at something Lubasi has said/done. Living in a host home truly gives you a fresh, authentic perspective of a country, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is keen to indulge themselves into the culture it has to offer.