New Year, New Trip!
Hello Spark friends! It is so exciting to start 2012 off with a trip to Zambia! After leaving the US on Thursday evening, I arrived in Zambia this morning and had a smooth and (relatively) restful trip. It feels great to be back in Lusaka, and I have a good feeling that this will be a smooth, calm and productive trip.
I was thrilled on this trip over that I only had to take two flights (as opposed to the usual 3-4 flights) to get here. I lost faith for a little bit when my first flight was delayed by three hours, which gave me bad memories of my last crazy trip over here, but my two flights both ended up being as smooth and comfortable as I could hope for.[Side note: If anyone ever gets the chance to visit the British Airways lounge at the San Francisco International Airport, you absolutely should! They made ice cream sundaes for everyone…amazing!]
Once I arrived, I was greeted by the talented and visionary executive director of Hope Ministries, Charles Mumba, who was nice enough to wake up early to pick me up from the airport at 6AM. It’s always so great to catch up with the staff here in person, and I got to hear all about Hope and the staff as well as how the country has changed since the recent inauguration of its new president, Michael Sata.
Our first stop was to a local grocery store where I could get some bottled water. In a moment that was simultaneously shocking and unsurprising, Adele’s “Someone Like You” came on as soon as we stepped into the store. As much as Zambia seems far away (which it certainly does after being in the air for over 24 hours to get here!), I am always elated and comforted by the moments when I realize just how small the world is.
A much-needed shower, a two-hour nap and a quick snack recharged me for the remainder of the day, and Charles and I headed to the poultry farm, which is already helping Hope to move toward financial sustainability. I got a tour of some recent construction, and Mr. Tembo, Hope’s utterly marvelous farm manager, shared some recent challenges and successes. It was great to hear how the farm and the organization have progressed in just the six months since I was here last.
After mingling with the chickens a bit, it was on to the exciting part…accounting! I got to meet Hope’s new accounting clerk,Ruth, and sales clerk, Emily, and we had the fun task of going through the books and learning a bit more about how the Hope staff in Lusaka keep track of every chicken, bag of feed and kwacha (the Zambian currency) that comes through the farm gates.
The rest of my evening I have no doubt will be sacrificed to jet lag, so I will sign off for now. I’m looking forward to updating you all on the progress, interesting stories and funny exchanges that are in store this week!
– Joann Chen, Spark Ventures Program Director