Sunday, 3 March 2013

Back to Work and In the Community

After a long and heavy, three-part post, we thought it best to keep things light for this next post. In case you’ve been wondering how we’ve been doing lately, the answer is … great! Coming to grips with everything that we mentioned in our most recent blog post really helped shape our perspective and allowed us to get back to the heart of the reason why we came to Africa in the first place. It has been humbling and challenging but we are very grateful to have the support of our friends at Hands, as well as all of you back home. Thank you for your prayers!

Our new roles are really beginning to take shape now. Diane has been super busy ever since we returned from South Africa. For the first 2 weeks back in Zambia, Marc essentially gave her a crash course on all things finance – what Hands financial procedures currently are and the processes they are moving towards. Diane has now been tasked with the responsibility of helping to implement a new finance system for the Zambia Regional Support Team (RST) and Service Centres, which is critical, given that Zambia receives the largest amount of donor support amongst the 8 African countries and the current finance system in Zambia is, for lack of a better word, a disaster. Her new role requires her to travel from Kitwe to Luanshya (a 50 minute car ride, a 1.5 hour bus ride) 2 or 3 times a week to support the bookkeepers at the RST and the Luanshya Service Centre. The days that she isn’t traveling, she’s with me supporting the Kitwe Service Centre.

As for my role, I’ve been tasked with the responsibility of shoring up our legal registrations in each of the 8 African countries that Hands operates in and ensuring that each is in compliance with local laws governing non-profit organizations. With no knowledge of African law, a serious language barrier (French for the DRC, Portuguese for Mozambique, broken English for all other countries) and local Hands volunteers not really understanding the law, it has proved to be quite the endeavor. Nevertheless, it has been quite interesting and undoubtedly will provide me with great experience going forward. While neither of us were expecting to be doing things so closely related to our previous jobs, we are happy that we are able to utilize our skills and experience to serve needs within the organization.

My legal responsibilities are quite sporadic and, as such, do not demand the regular time commitment that Diane’s finance responsibilities do. This works out well because it allows me to spend most of my time investing and building into the Kitwe Service Centre. As previously mentioned, now that we have been with and built great relationships with our team in Kitwe over the past few months, and have a greater understanding of the operations and duties of the Kitwe Service Centre, we feel we are in a much better position to build capacity in our team. The past couple weeks, I have seen a HUGE need for support in the Kitwe Service Centre, particularly as it pertains to planning, being organized and working efficiently. Even simple things such as clear processes and effective communication are currently lacking which lead to various issues down the road.  With all of the things we have planned for 2013 (teams visiting, conducting training sessions at our various Community Based Organizations (CBOs), budgets and project proposals, etc.), there shouldn’t be any more concern about us sitting around, feeling useless and doing nothing anymore. It’s going to be a busy year!

Despite all our previous complaining, I couldn’t be more thrilled with my new split-role. In one role, I am able to use my legal skills in a practical way to fill a need in the organization and, in my other role, I have the opportunity to go into community and visit our CBOs and care workers. Most importantly, I get to see and interact with the children. I count that as a huge blessing because many of the roles that long-term international volunteers take on make it difficult for them to go into community on a regular basis. I love being in community and I feel it is where I thrive. Seeing the children on a regular basis keeps me grounded and will serve as a constant reminder of the whole reason that we are here.

Where our roles will take us past April, we have yet to find out. But for now, we are thoroughly enjoying the ride and everything that God is showing and teaching us along the way.

Some pictures and videos from some recent trips to our various CBOs … Enjoy!


Cutest little dance moves we've ever seen

Ipepeta! The kids love this game!

Children praying before their meal
Lining up for their food, from shortest to tallest!
Nafiwama! (Bemba for delicious!)
The CBO school in Mulenga
Papa Nkosi, a blind care worker. Such an inspiration!
James (a volunteer from BC that is a dairy farmer) giving Ruben (a care worker) some ideas for the CBO garden (the income generating activity for Mulenga CBO)


Kids chowing down
One of the classrooms. Notice the lack of anything, much less proper chairs! (That didn't prevent some of the little ones in front from falling asleep!)
Another classroom. 3 kids to a desk!


One of the care workers' kids. He's one of my favourites!
Byron attempting to teach the multiplication table 


The children in front of the almost-completed school


The welcoming committee!

Kachele Farm

Byron with Towanga (the daughter of local Hands volunteers). She's such a sweetheart!


  1. Keep it up guys. Proud of both of you. Be safe and take care!!

    1. Thanks, Dboy. We're happy to hear that you're following along. As you can see, I haven't sold out and cut my hair ... unlike somebody else I know ...

  2. Hey guys, really cool to hear that you both have some new roles that suit you guys so well. Some pretty neat videos too lol.

    Byron. Your hair.

    1. Amy, it seems you forgot to finish your last sentence. No need. I already know what you meant to say - something along the lines of, "looks amazing" or "is sexy" ... You and CLam should be here, by the way.

  3. Thanks for revealing so much and being so open with your posts B man. It's like at this stage you could finally take a deep breath knowing that you've made this commitment to yourself for others, and you can see a huge response from your community that is so evident in the pictures. Sure your hair and clothes and skin stick out to any bystander, but I doubt that anyone at Hands sees you as any different from them anymore.

    1. Hey Cuz, thanks for your words of encouragement! It means a lot. It's definitely been a wild journey so far but we have cherished every moment. We're praying for you to make your way here and experience all of these things with us!