Friday, March 30, 2007

A little bit of luck

At least I managed to post this bit. I'll try to tackle photos from my latest adventures next week! (There are a few good ones)!

Happy Friday.

A tumultuous endeavour

As many of my blogs point out, one of the things that keeps me happiest here is volunteering with Breakthrough Sports Academy (BSA). I am so obviously proud of "my boys", and all of the work we do together. Mostly, they remind me I am a fortunate person, and that amidst all of the challenges we face, there is much fun to be had! I am inspired by these kids, & they have NO idea!
One of my dreams has been (falling alongside the goals of the greater BSA) to start up a girls BSA basketball team. The boys have been less than enthusiastic, and not one of them has recruited a sister or cousin or neighbour. I'm smiling, because they are going to have such a learning curve; the girls are coming out!!

I want to shed a little light on how challenging this commitment will be:

NB* I am not the full-time coach, but agreed to get the ball rolling (literally?) while on ‘leave’.

Day 1: I came to the courts with 3 female Zambian coaches (one played ball in
Germany, one recently returned from Namibia after traveling with Zambia's Under 20 National team, and one is not a basketball star but is a wonderful leader). To my horror, not ONE girl came to the court to join the team. Needless to say I unloaded on the people who were recruiting, and my ultimatum was that I'm giving four days, & if no girls show interest, we have failed.

Day 2: Flip-side; I had 5 girls and I was the only coach!

Day 3: I knew I would be the only coach for the day, so I made a last minute
SOS call to my friend Alinafe. Day 2 I had had a few problems with Nyanja isn't so great, & a couple of the girls didn't speak any English. Thank goodness Alinafe could help; we had our all-time high turnout- 8 girls. I never would have managed without him. (He’s also recently committed to being the Head Coach)!! Woohoo.

Day 4: I was disappointed because we dipped back down to 4 players. And I was again the only coach. Heart-wrenching note: I wanted to start a team register so I asked the girls to record their names, ages, & the name of the school they attend. Three of the four girls couldn’t write. They are aged 11-17 and my heart was broken. I still haven’t decided how we get those girls into better schools…but this is Lusaka (where they say the literacy rate is much higher than in reality- I believe).

Day 5: No one pitches...none of the 4 coaches I had recruited, and not one girl. (Granted, Alinafe did come by later…so he’s still in my good books)!

Day 6: Back up to Alinafe coaching, & 5-7 girls.

The Youth Basketball League had a meeting with all of the teams last Saturday. I thought it the perfect opportunity to introduce the wavering girl’s team to the whole league. Guess what- success! Five girls showed up, and they all became much more serious/ interested in playing. Now I'm overly optimistic & have no idea what will happen at the courts today*smile*. Though there should be 2 coaches, with me coming in after work. I'll most certainly keep you updated on our progress...I hope these girls create a space in my heart like my BSA boys have. I keep telling myself not to expect too much, or to be too optimistic because things never play out too easily here.

A friend at Right to Play donated a full kit for the girls, so now all we need are hoops...then we'll start the photo ops!!! Yeah, that’s probably the biggest feat of all- our only hoop taken down in December 2006 with the promise of a full court going up. Alas, it’s March 2007 & we’re still trying to patch the court so the hoops will come up as soon as possible. So that feat- we have two teams training for basketball without a court- we’re doing something right!!! The numbers are bound to go up once we have the full court (and of course our game will improve substantially).

With all of these struggles & frustrations, why am I so excited about the upcoming season? Must be the kids…

technical difficulties

So it seems I can no longer blog from work, I must be blocked or something (I'm grumpy because I used to go into the office early to do a few personal things, such as blog... & now I can't do it)

My plan is to still do some writing from the office & try to upload it from an Internet Cafe.

This will be attempt #1. I'm going to try to post some things that've been happening over the past couple of weeks.

Keep your fingers crossed!!!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Good friends + Cheap rum = A great night!

As luck would have it, I've met a great Canadian girl here, also named Sarah. We always get the giggles during introductions because it seems to Zambians like most Canadian girls are named Sarah. (Walking down the street I am often assaulted by shouts of "Mary", "Jane" in attempts to catch my attention...but no one has yet successfully yelled out 'Sarah'. Sometimes people guess countries, I hear "America" a lot, but my favourite has to be "Russia").
I've digressed.

All I wanted to post is that we brought in Sarah's 20-something-th birthday in style! For those of you who haven't seen me in awhile, you'll be pleased to note that I haven't changed much; after a couple of drinks I still reach a shiny shade of red!
Me being goofy. As usual.
Sarah squared!
Most of the crew

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Victoria Falls via bike

Alvin & I met up with Kirstie & her brother Joel for a day of "keeping fit". It was too much fun.

Just making sure everything is in line before we start rolling.

Ain't no ride like...a stolen bike. Good ol'"ox" song stuck in my head for the whole day! And my only explanation for Kirstie is...her nickname is Jazzy*grin*

On our way to the sight (sound, smell & taste) of Mosi-ao-Tunya "The Smoke that Thunders", or thanks to David Livingstone, more famously known as one of the world's seven natural wonders- the Victoria Falls.

A piece of those Falls with Al & Joel ("Jazzy's" brother- visiting from Victoria, BC)

This is how we look AFTER the Falls. (We got drenched crossing the Knife Edge bridge, & I have to admit I behaved like a small child when I realized I could stand in the centre of a perfectly circular rainbow...or raincircle I suppose).

An attempt to balance (I think), en route to the boiling point.

A brief rest before our cycling journey back involved fending off hungry monkeys. So hungry in fact, they thought the crown would be delectable...until feeling threatened by she-primate Jazzy attacking with sandals. No monkeys were hurt. Promise.

The hiatus is OVER!

Hi all, sorry for being out of touch for some time. I took an abrupt two week holiday once I accepted my full-time position here in Lusaka. So much has happened I don't know where to start... the ‘holiday’ started & finished with a Canadian bang, perhaps I can go from there?!

Here is the skeleton update…photos to be added in future ‘blogs’:

- Headed off to Livingstone for a weekend of adventure with Kirstie (Canadian friend based
in Cape Town aka Jazzy). As the photos will reveal…we decided to cycle to the Victoria Falls, it was a wonderfully active day!
- Came back home & spent some time cleaning, baking, & plucking grey hairs (horrifying reality of ageing…with my 26th around the corner)
- Was able to start BSA GIRLS Basketball team (WOOHOO), I have envisioned something like this since my arrival in Lusaka 2.5 years ago. It will be a tumultuous season, of that I’m sure- and the details will have to be revealed in an upcoming blog.
- Made time to visit & putter, things I haven’t had time to do in AGES!
- My last weekend before career-dom included a visit from a good ol’ friend Kieran (know in these parts as "Mabvuto" = problems). He is here on business but we’ve managed to make time to over-indulge in food, basketball, talking and sun! It’s been a great surprise for many of us who first met Kieran when he worked here in- was it 2003-04?! The perfect reason to have a couple beers…right?!

It’s hard to believe my time off is already over, but I am excited about settling down into a new job! Photos to come…which means I’ll be in touch much more frequently now that I don’t have to scream at slooooow Internet connections in public places. Maybe that was the cause of the onset of more grey hair, hmm.

Ciao for now