May 21st(Kitwe, MEF House): First day of work. I spent most of the day meeting people and making my schedule for the week. I began to feel sick from the air quality and germs from the plane and Anoop. My main supervisors at work are Earnest and Petronella. Petronella has started to call me her baby, and later granted me the Bemba (the language they speak here) name: Mapalo, meaning “The Blessing.”
I have found that religion is one of the hardest things for me down here so far. Everyone is Christian and they see no problem in blatantly asking if you are as well. I begin by trying to be vague about my beliefs so I do not offend, but they will usually ask “but are you Christian?” Depending on the person I will modify my answer so I do not insult them. I believe in something more than us, but I do not think it falls within the category of any certain religion or rules.
May 22nd(Kitwe, MEF House): Today at work I was sitting in Petronella and I`s office and this woman came in with her baby and young daughter. Petronella explained that they were there in search of counseling. They continued in Bemba so I could not understand what was being discussed. The young daughter stood and lifted up the hem of her skirt to reveal that almost half of her thigh was scarred and missing. It was later explained to me after they had left that she had been burned as a baby and her leg had still not healed properly. The mother was seeking counseling to find a way to find funding for her surgery in Lusaka.
May 23rd(Kitwe, MEF House): Richard and Chomba are two of my best friends at work. They are both close to my age and are very opened minded to gender equality, education, and cultural differences. At one point they asked if interracial relationships were accepted in Canada. I explained to them that most of my friends actually prefer this. They further described that the young girls that saw the three of us together on the road would assume that they were very rich and educated for being with a white person, and would most likely say yes to a date if they asked. I then described to term “wing-man” to them and they found it very ovoko (cool, interesting, nice, fun, etc.). These guys make my days at the Y so much fun. I am very glad to have met them.