Having never been to the Sinazongwe District, I thought it best to start researching and blogging about my placement location as a way of forcing me to start gathering the vital information I need to prepare me for planning there. Keep in mind that the information I'll be summarizing here are cobbled together from different profile pages and from the sometimes erroneous Wikipedia. But, I promise, as I get better in my knowledge of this seemingly isolated district in the southern province of Zambia, I will be feeding you, my very faithful blog readers, with more incisive, colorful, and hopefully humorous stories about my new home.
From what I gather, the Sinazongwe District is so named after Chief Sinazongwe, the current Head of District. Although people speak English, the local language is Tonga. The district is located immediately south of Zambia's capital city, Lusaka, and is populated by approximately 11,528 inhabitants. Two important water landmarks are the Zambezi River, which runs along the border of southern Zambia and northern Zimbabwe, and Lake Kariba, a man-made lake created by the Kariba Dam, which I presume was meant to be a hydroelectric project. Lake Kariba is now populated by very dangerous and probably ravenous Nile crocodiles. I read a story about a woman, who was mauled there while fetching water, but aid projects invested in the district have installed water pumps, providing water for the villagers and specifically for the purpose of minimizing crocodile maulings. Interestingly enough, Lake Kariba is also filled with kapenta fish, which has subsequently morphed into the Sinazongwe District's largest industry following the collapse of the copper industry. Other wildlife include hippopotamuses, tiger fish, cormorant (a water bird), and elephants. If not for the Nile crocodiles, Lake Kariba would be, on the basis of appearances, a pleasant enough water body in which to recreate. With the crocodiles languishing in the lake's waters, though, I doubt you'll see me playing in there, so don't expect any corresponding photographs!
The district is also replete in coal and is home to the Collum Coal Mine. There was a minor infraction there in October (2010) involving employees of the mine and company supervisors when the employees' protest against low wages and poor labor conditions was squelched. Luckily, my placement requires that I not get involved in local politics. Amen!
I prefer to think about the possibilities and opportunities available to people. Other aid and charity organizations, such as USAID and CARE, have already completed research assessments in the region to map out such social difficulties as food security and health care capacities. In the coming weeks, I'll be writing about some of these conditions to give you, readers, a sense of the magnitude of development needs in the district. Think of poverty as a handicap, but one that can also be overcome with the support of the wider community.
In the meantime, keep thinking about how your contribution of $10 or more could help move CUSO-VSO's role forward for the district's residents. So, please keep visiting my fundraising page to stay on top of my money-raising campaign. Thanks for continuing to read these pages.