We arrived around midday on Tuesday to Lusaka airport, eagerly waiting to see what the next 10 weeks has in store. For many of us, it is our first time in Africa so we were excited but at the same time apprehensive! “I thought they were going to be short, spoilt & think that we’re primitive but turns out we’re all just the same” (Milupi, ZM).
Our first task was to try and fit 19 people, 19 suitcases & 19 pieces of hand luggage on a 16 seater mini bus. There was no under carriage so we had to pile them up at the back and all squeeze in. The Zambian’s are a lot more economical with their space, they put fold up chairs in the aisles which allows more people to board each bus. However, this does mean that personal space is a thing of the past. “I felt extremely guilty as I stood and watched the poor bus conductor try and lift my 26.5KG (over the 23KG limit) luggage through the window of the bus but he wouldn’t let me help, honest!” (Christina, UK).
Our Zambian counterparts were busy beavering away, preparing a ‘Welcome to Zambia’ night for our first night when we arrived at Kunzubo Lodge. This is where we stayed for the first week of orientation before they sent us out into Lusaka to stay with our host families and start working in the SMEs.“The lodge was nice, it had a pool & they fed us but, it was a shock to sleep in a room & bathroom with 13 girls but, at least we all got to know each other pretty quickly!” (Marte, UK)
Washing out here is very different from back home. There is a water shortage at the moment so you cannot use running water so instead resort to the olden days where all you have is a bucket and sponge – you soon get used to it. Power is also very scarce and, since June, Zambia has been on power rations. This is due to the lack of water in the dam as hydroelectricity is the main form of power here. The power goes off for 8 hours every day but the time varies and the same timetable repeats every 3 days. However, most Zambians are used to it and some have generators in case of an emergency.
Anyway, back to our welcome night: our Zambian counterparts welcomed us in national dress which is a chitenge for the women (a long piece of material which you wrap around like a skirt to remain modest) whilst playing the bongos and singing before seating us ready for the show.
They told us about all the different tribes, what they wear, how they speak, how they greet others etc. as well as buying us each a Zambian bracelet and flag badge. They even let us taste some Zambian delights which consisted of casava, chicanda& a popular maiz drink (Maheu).
We even ended up in a dance circle with everyone dancing with a counterpart from the opposite sex. And that was it, we all integrated straight away and everybody was getting stuck in. It made us very excited to see what the next 10 weeks have in store! “Blood makes us related, loyalty makes us family” (Winston, ZM).
The first full day was a crash course in finance before being let loose in Lusaka on a scavenger hunt! We were put in groups of 5 and given 5 locations where we had to take a photo. We were measured on:
- Least money spent
- Most creative photo
- Quickest time
“Our team won on least money spent but unfortunately were the last ones back which was very disappointing seeing as though we ran to every location in between negotiated bus fares” (Ricky, UK).
- Findeco House – one of the most famous buildings in Lusaka
- Manda Hill police station
- Goma Lakes – which are located in the University of Zambia’s grounds before finishing up at the
- Radisson Bluselfie spot
The end of the week was intensive training which was broken up with some fun ‘dry’ evenings in the bar taking over the DJ’s set and making every night karaoke night “Dancing queen, young & sweet, only 17” (Emma, UK). You forget how good company is all you need to have a good time, doesn’t matter where you are or what you are doing!
The final night we put on a UK culture show for the Zambians which went down a storm! We demonstrated the differing accents, talked about sports, got the Zambian’s to participate in their first scrum, put on a show of music through the decades as well as dance through the decades and finished on the hokeykokey – which was surprisingly knackering after running in and out of a 35 man circle, 5 times!!“Mind blowing, entertaining & informative” (Daliso, ZM). “Getting everybody together for a good British meal of bangers and mash on one long table out in the garden was the highlight of the night for me, a unifying end to a great first week!” (Abi, UK)