John MacInnis, Inverness County Cares (ICC) member reflects on his adventures in Zambia:
Our trip to Northern Zambia with the Chalice team was truly a trip of a lifetime! We received a warm welcome, in appreciation of the help provided by Chalice (Chalice.ca), who sponsor 420 children in the Kawambwa and Mporokoso communities. Our hosts were very hospitable and we were always safe and well looked after.
We were honored to be invited into homes in the community where we experienced the realities of their daily routines. We saw 10 people living in a three-room home, with several generations sharing a very small space. Seventy percent of people live off the land and have very little money. It is a place where owning a bicycle is a distinct advantage.
The Chalice team moved on after five days and we settled into our schedule created by Sister Agnes at the St. Mary’s school. She is a very organized leader who laid out tasks for us each day. My first assignment was to work for two days with Joseph the braille transcriber. He began his work by scanning text books into a word program, then adding explanations of pictures, graphs, and visuals and lastly processing the word data through a braille printer to create a braille page. Joseph was also a talented operator of a braille six key typewriter.
Every student at the school is taught to read in braille, even if they have some vision, for many of the them experience deteriorating sight as they mature. The students read braille by running their fingers over the bumps as quickly as we can read with vision.
My next assignment was to paint one of the dorms. They are two large rooms each with a washroom and shower. One of the teachers, an assistant cook, and I were the painting team. ICC paid for the paint which was the best that could be obtained in the town, but was similar to our old white wash. We had to put three coats of paint on the walls and four coats on the window frames! It took us five days to complete one dorm building. Next we replaced about twenty windows, which were only about one third of the total broken. We also replaced damaged light fixtures and missing light bulbs. It is difficult for the children with poor vision to see in the dorms and classrooms, when the bulbs are missing or burnt out.
Trades persons or handymen are always appreciated at the two schools, as maintenance is always needed. Money for repairs never gets in the budget. When I asked Sister Marjory, the accountant, to put money in the budget on a regular basis for maintenance, her answer was “What do we do, fix the buildings… or feed the children?” Very hard to argue your point with that response!
ICC always welcomes new members. Individuals who wish to donate can use the donate button on our website https://invernesscountycares.com or send a cheque to Inverness County Cares, Box 99, Judique, NS, B0E1P0. Tax receipts provided.
This is a braille type writer.