Kellers in Africa

our life in Zambia

Tag: Poverty

A list of things that you shouldn’t do…

during a cholera outbreak:

Wait… what is cholera? If you need to ask this question, you should send up a little prayer of thanks for God’s grace in modern civilization and sanitation! Cholera is a disease of poverty, filth, and ignorance.

Oh yeah, and bacteria. But it LOVES poverty, filth, and ignorance.

 

Photo by MicrobiologyOnline.org

It spreads rapidly through any water-based medium.

Water is everywhere…

Photo by Open.edu

The infection is horrible.

Not. Fun.

Photo by EMS-Solution Inc

 

Which brings us back to…. a list of things you should NOT do in a cholera outbreak:

Shake hands

Cholera is a bacterial disease spread by contact with infected human waste and body fluids… which have a tendency to come in contact with hands. (EW.)

This is a cultural issue in Zambia as greeting one another and shaking hands goes beyond courtesy here- it is vital to maintaining relationships. People often hold hands (even if they are not much more than strangers) as they talk as a means of establishing connection in the conversation. After a church service, as you walk out the door, everyone forms a line and shakes hands with everyone else. 

 

Eat raw vegetables

Most vegetables in market places here are washed in… the latrine area. Not even kidding. You know where that water has been?! If you buy fruits or vegetables for cooking they have to be sanitized first. And sanitize them well.

There are no “facilities” so vegetables are washed  in whatever water is available.

So if you take these veggies home:

 

 

Eat fast food/street food

There are no public toilet areas, no sinks, no sanitation. No hair nets, no hand sanitizer, no food-safe containers. If that guy is carrying cholera… so are his snacks.

Hand washing and food handling… not a “thing” with street food

Drink water that hasn’t been boiled or treated

Even bottled water isn’t safe if you aren’t certain that the bottling company isn’t just “purifying” it (as opposed to treating it). And in Africa all bets are off on that one!

Boil it or bleach it. (Yes, we drink bleach water. Lovely.)

 

Go to church/school/public meetings

For now, all public meetings have been suspended in outbreak areas. This is mostly due to ignorance about how cholera spreads. Most people in compounds don’t realize that not washing hands,  sharing food, shaking hands, sharing toilets, etc can spread this disease. It isn’t a strictly necessary measure to stop the disease… but it helps people realize how serious and necessary the sanitation measures are.

An infected person who hasn’t washed their hands and then shakes hands, hugs, handles food, washes/drinks with communal water can infect a whole community.

Some of these areas are already affected by dirty drinking water, infected latrines, etc. You know what that means?

Stop Helping Others

(remember these are things you shouldn’t do!) The time to help is NOW. Time to educate on health and sanitation, to install proper water pumps on boreholes (deep wells with pumps instead of shallow hand-dugs that are easily infected), to help families with infected bread-winners, teach children about microbes, to encourage and support clean up in the slums. Can’t do that from where you are sitting because you live in a country NOT affected by cholera? Educate your kids about this disease and how it impacts third world countries. Support people engaged in dealing with the situation (we need short term solutions like clean up and long term solutions like education and water pumps).

PRAY FOR THE AFFECTED FAMILIES.

Education

Empowerment & Aid

Panic

Think Ebola Zombie Apocalypse 2014. No don’t. Don’t even go there! This is a simple bacterial infection. It is so easy to treat that WHO and the CDC don’t even hand out antibiotics for it. That’s right: electrolytes (in treated water) and rest take care of this disease almost without exception. Extreme cases occur when the sick person continues to be exposed (got sick from infected water and continues drinking the same water).

Soooo… you don’t have to worry that cholera zombies are going to be arriving at your local airport.

However… this disease is impacting the lives of millions of people across the world. Without education and empowerment to change their lives, cholera will continue to kill hundreds of thousands of people (most of them children) every year.

 

Vindicate the weak and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and destitute.
Psalm 82:3

 

What is it like to be a single mom in Africa?

For many African girls, motherhood begins when their childhood is destroyed... and that happens all too often at a very young age.

For many African girls, motherhood begins when their childhood is destroyed… and that happens all too often at a very young age.

 

In a certain sense, single moms in Zambia are similar to their American counterparts.  They work, they do the best for their kids, they worry about the future, and they get very little sleep.  However, there are some very real, very sobering differences.  Most single moms in America don’t have to decide between prostitution and starvation.  In America there are a lot of social programs, after school care options, and subsidies available to help make ends meet.

In Africa, the choices are much, MUCH more limited.

Follow me to the ITMI blog and meet Rachel, a single mom and amazing lady…….

 

A Typical Yet Exceptional Story

 

 

 

Give me liberty or give me a handout!

TKK_7680Yesterday was “Africa Freedom Day” in Zambia.  Some of our holidays here are nebulous at best (Youth Day and Unity Day are at the top of my ???? list).  But I actually like this one.  I’ll admit there’s a side of me that does a real eye-roll, though.  After living in Africa for 8 years I can tell you that there is still a LOT of work to be done before real freedom is achieved, especially in the political, police, and military corruption sectors.  That being said…. Zambians have come a long way since achieving their independence from Britain in 1964.

First accolades would have to go to LOCAL GOVERNMENT.  They are no longer ruled by a foreign power in an entirely different hemisphere.  While I appreciate a lot of what Britain did with infrastructure and development in Zambia, I do not believe that you can understand a country and her people from thousands of miles away.  The Zambians really own their government now.  They have taken control of their country and they truly want to be a great and prosperous people.  (Unfortunately, many of the government officials have zeroed in on the “prosperous” bit…).

More freedom and poorer education.  The plight of Zambians in 2014.

More freedom and poorer education. The plight of Zambians in 2014.

I also love how Zambia as a country is working to empower women.  This is still a very real issue in Africa.  Women are grossly under-educated and badly mistreated.  I can tell you from personal experience that the average grade achievement for women is grade 7 in the towns and grade 3- THREE- in the rural areas.  And this is African grades 7 & 3, not equivalent to what we see in Westernized nations.  In the bush women are still chattel, sexual merchandise, and slave labor.  I love that Zambia has so many programs to improve the lives of her women.

But I think it would be a mistake to spend the day celebrating Africa’s “Freedom” without contemplating a few things that have gone wrong- and I mean really, really WRONG since Zambia’s independence nearly 50 years ago.

Dependence- While the theme of the holiday might be liberty, the unofficial motto of the government is something like “Trust in me…. only me……”  Political candidates here secure votes by passing out mealie meal (grain for porridge) and promising schools, houses, cars, etc to people in poorer districts.  The medical clinics and government schools are free to extremely cheap.  The care and instruction are less than abysmal but most of the local people don’t know any better and the officials take great care to make sure everyone feels privileged to receive anything at all.  The maize prices are set at a rate that keeps the farmers at a subsistence level (which means they need government loans and subsidies every year) and gives the people cheap staples.  This perpetuates dependency because there is fear of independent farming and selling- the “cheap maize” would go away.  Zambians depend almost entirely on their government for food, education, and care.  They have few options since they are not taught to seek anything else.

Education- I have noticed that many of the older Zambians can read and write in 2 or 3 languages.  They achieved British equivalent certificates in school and could have transferred to British or European universities.  That is no longer possible.  I know a guy here who nearly finished his degree in architecture and wanted to transfer to a university in the UK.  He barely, BARELY passed the entrance exam for Year 1 at a British university.  He was shocked and dismayed at these results.  Then he started the course and was utterly horrified.  The uni was generous to let him in at all.  The education he received in Africa was woefully deficient.

The clinics lack the most basic first aid supplies, have serious structural problems, and often do not have trained or experienced staff available to see the patients.  The situation is dire.

The clinics lack the most basic first aid supplies, have serious structural problems, and often do not have trained or experienced staff available to see the patients. The situation is dire.

Corruption- there is no longer a strong system of accountability for the Zambian government officials.  No “checks and balances”.  No auditing.  Nothing to stop those with power from exploiting those beneath them.  It’s bad.  You can’t get anything done without “making a contribution toward expenses” or “helping” things along.  We don’t participate in that method which means our applications and permits move a lot slower than if we “helped” the department out.

Medical care- look this up online and you will find a wide array of opinions.  Sure, there are more rural clinics.  But believe me when I say that for the most part they do more harm than good.  The hospitals are FILTHY.  I was privileged to save a baby at a local hospital… he nearly died of dehydration from diarrhea.  They refused to put in an iv.  Best I can figure, the mom couldn’t afford the “fee” (bribe) required by someone on the hospital paperwork chain.  The medical situation is BAD.

Africa Freedom Day.  There is indeed more freedom.  But it came at a very real cost to the generations that followed.  Zambia’s hope lies in God’s grace and in the determination of her people to keep going and their ability to look on the bright side.

Thank you, God, for the freedom that you’ve brought to Zambia.  Thank you that you have brought them closer to “a hope and a future”.  Please guide these amazing people into your embrace- into a walk that honors you and in turn creates a culture of Christ, a culture of humility, honesty, and hope.

TKK_7385

 

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