All the reasons why you should donate!

Myself and the other VIDEA intern at the YWCA, Dana are currently running a fundraiser for the YWCA Shelter that houses mainly girls who have experienced abuse. For all the information you need, please check out our page, www.fundrazr.com/ywcakitwe.

Here are some important reasons why you should donate:

If we reach our goal, the operational cost of the shelter would be covered for 6 months!

This fundraiser isn’t a long-term solution for operating the shelter but we want to set the shelter up with a cushion until a permanent donor is found.

The YWCA Shelter is a needed resource!

The primary residents of the shelter are young girls who have experience abuse, often sexual abuse. The girls stay at the shelter until their cases have been brought to court and there has been a sentencing. The courts in Zambia can be inefficient at times meaning that a girl’s stay at the shelter can range from several days to several months.

We can buy art supplies and toys for the girls!

While the shelter provides its residents with their basic needs, we want to create a safe and welcoming environment. These girls have experienced trauma and need counselling. Having art supplies and toys will not only allow the girls to be children but they can be used for play therapy

We can buy chickens and grow maize!

There is space at the shelter to keep chickens and have a small garden. By having chickens and maize there is a consistent food source and any excess amount of maize and eggs can be sold to create an additional source of income

Now I am going to assume that most of you who read this blog really care about me so here are some reasons why helping the shelter would really help me out!

I can go shopping!

Although it is not my favourite pastime, I feel my years of working with youth programs has prepared me for this. I have also spent more time in malls and shops in Kitwe than I ever thought so I have quite the expert knowledge of where to buy things. I will buy the best toys and art supplies that will create such a fun and healing environment for the girls.

I can learn about farming and livestock in Zambia!

On my internship in Ghana, I learned more about goats and groundnuts than I ever thought I would. Now in Zambia, I want to do the same with chickens and maize. Why? I don’t know! For some reason I find it very interesting learning things like the best time to buy and sell livestock and what the crop yield is on a certain sized piece of land.

I can put it on my resume!

People, I am two months away from unemployment and I need to put as many skills on my resume as I can so I can become a good adult. Don’t you want to help me put on my resume that I carried out a successful fundraiser? I am sure a future employer would see this and think ‘Wow, we need to hire this person quick!’

In all seriousness, this shelter is an important resource in the community and needs to be supported. So if you want to help me, Dana, the YWCA, the girls at the shelter or out of the goodness of your heart (cheesy I know), check out the fundraiser at www.fundrazr.com/ywcakitwe. Our goal is $2000 but anything would be great so please donate what you can!

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I’ve been in Zambia for 3 months!

Yesterday was the 3-month anniversary of arriving in Zambia; I can’t believe I am half way through this internship. To mark this milestone I thought I would give a life update by answering questions I’m sure you have been dying to know!

What have you been up to?

There is often the expectation that if you are spending time in a different country you’re living this crazy life and doing lots of fun things all the time. For me this isn’t necessarily the case. I spend most of my time outside of work going to the mall and restaurants, watching movies, reading, and going to the pool every once in a while. I am here interning so I have found myself in a nice routine that I don’t think is that exciting to share, nevertheless I am enjoying it.

I have been able to go on some cool adventures though. I have been to Chingola and Ndola, the two other major cities of the Copperbelt, visited a honey factory, went to a game reserve, and met lots of interesting people. Outside of the Copperbelt I spent time in Lusaka and  a long weekend relaxing at Mulingushi Dam.

How are you settling in?

I think anyone can go into a different environment and as long as they give it time and have a good attitude, they are able to settle in. That is not to say that you won’t feel homesick, out of place, or frustrated at times but once a person settles into some kind of normalcy then its easy to be comfortable. Kitwe was not a hard place for me to settle in to. While there are some days when I wish I was home, but the majority of the time I do really like it here. People are nice, there’s things to do and Kitwe has more similarities with places in Canada than I assumed there would be.

What have you learned?

I would like to say I am close to being fluent in Bemba but this is far from the truth, I can greet people and some other basic phrases. Once I meant to ask ‘how is your family?’ and instead said ‘how is your witch doctor?’ I have gotten better at using the lingo like ‘knocking off’ and saying the time in 24 hours. I can proudly say that I have cooked nshima, which is the staple food of Zambia, and it didn’t taste bad. As well as the more noticeable things associated with settling in to a place, I think I have gotten better at being more patient, confident, and just go along with things. One of the biggest reasons about coming here was to get a better understanding of gender issues in development and being at the YWCA, I have seen these issues first hand but I have also learned so much about other social and development issues.

What next?

I am so interested to see what my life will be like in another 3 months considering what has happened so far. I want to continue gaining work experience by helping on anything that’s needed, I want to travel and see more of Zambia, and I want to meet even more  interesting people. Ultimately I want to make the best out of the time I have left here.

 

Y & W

Can someone explain to me why International Women’s Day and International Youth Day are so close together? Working at an organization where the first two words in the name are ‘Young’ and ‘Women’ meant that it was a busy week!

Here is a video of what I got up to:

Now you have seen what I did, I want to write about youth and gender issues. It was hard for me to write this, not because of my procrastination (well maybe) but because these issues are complex and I have so much to say about them. In the end I decided to focus on my own observations in Zambia and why I think days like International Women’s Day and International Youth Day are important.

Youth in Zambia are considered to be people between the age of 18-35 but in reality teenagers are often lumped into this group. Currently the two biggest universities (University of Zambia & Copperbelt University) have been closed since February because of a dispute over government allowances given to students. While it was recently announced that they would be reopening in April, the government will not be supplying these allowance to students anymore. This situation forced educated youth into a limbo where they aren’t being educated and cannot look for employment because of the unknown of when the schools would reopen. Now that we know when they will reopen, there has been a financial burden created by not providing these allowances that may restrict some groups of youth from attending post secondary education.

I think this situation shows that youth are often overlooked and underestimated as a resource for improving communities. I have met youth who are eager to find out how to get involved in community organizations and who are actively seeking out accurate information, especially in relation to sexual health, to become better educated. At the International Youth Day march there were so many youth who are involved in civic groups, showing that youth are actively out there attempting to better their communities. International Youth Day is important to celebrate because among other things, it is an opportunity for youth to show how passionate they are about social change. In order for development to occur, primary actors need to invest in youth where they need to be listened to and engaged.

Gender inequality exists everywhere but I am currently in a place where I find the gender divide more visible. As a feminist this means I constantly see and experience situations that I find frustrating but it is also helping me understand the complexity of gender norms. I am also at a women’s organization so I get to see daily how gender roles limit a woman’s potential in life. The majority of clients that come to the Drop In Centre are women discussing marital issues or child support. Many of the cases stem from girls entering into young marriages and then having children at a young age. In the past child brides were a common cultural practice and although it is now against the law there is still a strong societal pressure and often family pressure for girls to get married and have children, which means dropping out of school. Without a proper education and limited personal resources many rely on their husbands for economic support. When the relationship breaks down, women are often put in vulnerable situations and a lot of times this includes supporting children as well.

This is just one example of how gender norms can limit the potential of a girl. Women around the world are restricted socially, economically, and politically because of societal expectations and norms. Therefore International Women’s Day is an important day to celebrate because we need to celebrate how much gender equality has progressed but also use it as an opportunity for societies to come together to examine which inequalities still exist and how they can overcome limitations.

 

 

5 Favourite Things About My Zambian Work Life

Although there are so many reasons why I am enjoying my time at the YWCA, here is a list of 5 things that I think are great about my current work environment, things I haven’t experienced in any work place before!

1) Tea breaks

In general, I love a culture that will take time out of the day to specifically sit down and have tea/coffee. Zambia is no exception. Every day I am in the office I get to have a break where I sit with coworkers and we drink tea, chat, and I try to learn Bemba. I think it’s great!

2) Listening to social issues in the Drop In Centre

Most of my time spent at work has been in the DIC where clients come in to seek counselling on a variety of issues. It has been so interesting to hear issues and see how they are resolved. The most interesting aspect to see is that the issues faced by Zambians are the same social issues you would find anywhere in the world. Aside from a polygamy case, the majority of the clients who visit the centre have the same problems you would see in Canada. The most common cases are for child support or dealing with marital issues so it just shows that no matter what the culture or economic background, people deal with the same problems.

3) Laughing at any situation

So far, my experience in Zambia shows me that people tend to be laid back and don’t take things too seriously. This means a lot of joking around and laughing! I once saw a driver almost hit another car, when they got out of the car I expected a shouting match between the drivers but instead they were laughing about it. This would definitely have not been the case in Calgary. The same happens at work, I can be sitting in a counselling session and one minute people are arguing in Bemba and the next thing everyone is laughing and I just sit there confused. Even in my confusion though, I can appreciate the humour that people have in Zambia.

4) Refreshments are given out at meetings

The majority of meetings I have gone to so far include not only a drink but a snack as well, this has included biscuits and even pies. Like some of the other reasons on this list, I think it shows how hospitable people are and how they care about your well being.

5) The phrase “I will communicate”

I have heard this several times and I love it. I plan to use it in my future work and personal life. As somewhat of a procrastinator I don’t always do the things I should have. This phrase is a great response to use when you don’t have anything to share at that moment or when you don’t want to admit that nothing has been done.

Example; Boss: How is that report coming along? Response: I will communicate

 

Introduction

I left Calgary over a month ago and I have been in Zambia for almost 3 weeks so I think it is about time that I get this blog up and running!

This blog will be where I share updates, experiences and thoughts during my time away. Internet costs more than I expected or maybe I am just unknowingly spending too much time on Facebook and using up data, but either way I kind of see this blog as a thrifty way for me to stay connected with family and friends!

I am currently an intern at the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) in Kitwe, Zambia. This opportunity is part of the Government of Canada’s International Youth Internship Program (IYIP) and it is through an amazing organization called Victoria International Development Education Association (VIDEA). I think VIDEA is amazing because of the work they do and their human rights based approach to development. The 2 week training prior to coming to Zambia was so comprehensive and taught me so much about myself, the world of international development and I also got to meet some really awesome people.

I will be in Kitwe until July which turns out isn’t the best time to come if you want to top up your tan. It has been much colder and rainier than my stereotypes and other experience in Africa led me to believe. Kitwe is the second largest city in Zambia and is in the Copperbelt region, which is in the north west of the country. Surprisingly, copper is a huge industry in the Copperbelt region and so there are a few mines surrounding Kitwe that employ a lot of locals and brings a lot of foreigners. Unfortunately copper prices have dropped resulting in lay offs and inflation has risen. Power cuts and water shortages are a regular occurrence primarily due to a lack of rain (so I know I shouldn’t  complain about the rain that I’ve experienced). To top it off there is going to be a presidential election in August, so it’s a very interesting time to be here!

Myself and another VIDEA intern are working with the YWCA which is what I’m most excited about. Like the majority of recent graduates out there I’m still not quite sure what I want to be when I grow up. Right now I know I like working for non profits and I am very interested in learning more about gender issues so I think this is a good fit for me! After 3 weeks here, I can say that the people I work with and have met are lovely and it has been fascinating learning about the work that the YWCA does in Kitwe.

So that’s my ramble over for now, stay tuned for more posts and maybe even some more pictures and videos. I’m not giving a schedule or any expectations for posts because lets be real, I’m a huge procrastinator and who knows if I will even have anything interesting to say! Unless you think ramblings about my hate of doing laundry by hand or how great I think the Indian food is here, would be interesting!

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Our House
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YWCA, Regional Office