Tuesday, July 27, 2010

In to the villages


I went to a local school today with the Zambian data collectors to assess children. The school we went is a Basic school, which is from grade 1 to grade 9. I noticed that not all students go to school for the entire day. At least from what I learned, for the lower grade, only half of the kids go to school in the morning and the rest go in the afternoon. The classes are divided by girls and boys, so all girls are in one class and all boys are in another.

In the afternoon, we went to the villages to visit some families and collect additional consent forms. It was a bit shocking to see how people co-habit with animals so closely. Chickens, pigs, goats, dogs, and guinea fowls everywhere. The dogs were sleeping most of the time, chickens tracing one another, and pigs all do nothing but sniffing on the ground. If there is one thing I have coped with well so far, it is with the animals. Usually they mind their own business and would not bother you.

There is one incidence though that made me concerned about the animals being so close. When we were in a family talking to a mom, she and her little kid (looks like about 2 years old) were sitting on the ground. The kid was eating some nshima (a type of staple food made of maize) from a bowl. I noticed that the chickens constantly sneak stole food from the bowl. The poor child was making fists angrily but he was too small to stop the chickens from coming. Her mom was talking to us and didn’t pay much attention to the kid.Then all of a sudden, a really bold pig almost ran over that kid to get the food. The mom finally realized it and drove the animals away.

The families we visited live in typical rural households. A typical family has multiple small houses. They cook in open huts, sleep in the house made of brick with a grass or tin roof, and they keep their animals outside with dogs to safeguard their home. The typical daily food they prepare is vegetables with nshima. Only in special occasions will they eat meat and poultry. When we arrived, they offered us stools made of tree trunks. One family offered boiled pumpkins and it was probably the best food they had.

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