Monday, July 19, 2010

Ngombe, Community Projects and Thali Plates

The same day that Debbie arrived we headed to N'gombe. A shanty town, called here a compound or township, Ngombe is a crowded housing area or 'neighborhood' right in the middle of Lusaka. It is a 10 minute drive from some of the most luxurious neighborhoods and shopping centers in Lusaka.

I sometimes feel that the people living in these compounds have it worse than those living in rural villages. While they may have more access to jobs, running water, and (possibly) electricity, they are living in horribly crowded conditions with terrible sanitary conditions. Wells near open toilets and no place to grow fresh food is just part of it. I also wonder how demoralizing it is to live so close to people who have much better lives than you and not have any hope of accessing that for yourself. 

This is a typical general store.  
Those little plastic bags on the left are filled with tiny amounts of  rice, cornmeal, sugar and salt.
People buy what they can when they can.
The bottles on the right are filled with cooking oil.
I can see the original container but you have to be careful;
you don't want to buy oil that has been mixed with stolen transistor oil.

One thing that never ceases to amaze me when I visit N'gombe is how happy the kids seem to be. They play in the streets like this little boy who had invented a game of blindfolded sack racing. 
There he was, happy as a clam, hopping from one end to the other of this yard.
There is a lesson here for us, isn't there?

This little boy is hanging on desperately to his childhood despite being the designated babysitter for his baby brother or sister. Check out his car made from scrap plastic bottles.

We were in N'gombe to visit the project that Debbie and I had worked at the first time we met. Tom and I had worked with this community school for a couple years and Debbie came out to do some teacher training.
This was the original project that Tom and I moved out to Africa to help with. We worked with them full time for a couple years and then once they were established we moved to more part time help to give them time to grow and become a strong, independent charity. 

 Debbie and I also organized a library for the teachers to use in their classes. It was good to see the books still there at the school with the little colored dots we worked so hard on 6 years ago.

When we first arrived at the school we heard loud music and singing and found these teenage boys rocking out in one of the classrooms. Their lyrics were simple--pretty much just Jesus and Savior and--but their dance moves were pretty good. Most importantly they were having a really good time.
Pastor Sakala has done an amazing job with this community project. When we first met him ten years ago he had less than 200 students and just a couple classrooms. Now he has resident orphans, 600 students, a hospice and clinic and this church building. (They carry benches in from the classroom each Sunday)
It is so refreshing to see a man who works hard completely by faith to care for those within his own community.
After spending the afternoon in Ngombe we went out to eat dinner.  Looking over my pictures and remembering my evening gives me a pang of guilt. After describing the poverty that surrounds so many people how could I go out to eat?This is a common dilemma when living and working in Africa. You can give and give and yet you'll still have more than those around you. You can feel bad about it or you can realize that you can only do so much and enjoy the gifts God has given which sometimes includes dinner and fellowship with a good friend.

This is my one of my absolute favorite places to eat dinner in Lusaka. The restuarant is Mahak and I always, always, always order the Thali plate. It is 3 different Indian dishes plus rice, yogurt and chapatis or naans. You can have all you want of any of it. The three dishes are determined by what the chef decided to cook that day. It is always vegetarian and oh so delicious. It's also very affordable and is considered the everyday food of India many times. If you come to visit me I'll make sure you get a chance to try this. So, when are you coming?


  1. Life there is so different. It's funny how we might feel sorry for that boy, and he's so happy. It all boils down to how we look at life. I forget that sometimes.

  2. Going out to eat at a nicer restaurant in Lusaka gives you, a person who blesses so many through her service, the opportunity to continue in good health. You're not going to save the world. You are going to impact and save many.

  3. Hi Amy!
    I found your blog thanks to SITS and I'm glad I did, it's very interesting to read about life in Africa.
    I've been once in South Africa, but it's probably one of most developed countries there and your stories are so different.
    Thank you for sharing it!


Come hang out with me. Your comments brighten my day and make me feel less lonely in my corner of the globe. .Wanna know more about my crazy life? Give a shout!

You can also email me at amymorrowinafricaATgmailDOTcom

Related Posts with Thumbnails