This is Africa

No electricity, no internet, forty degrees, never ending lunch breaks and Fridays off. Nothing seamed to be working for me today, and if I was in Norway I would probably be somewhat frustrated. But this is Africa, and you slowly learn to adapt. Luckily I charged my computer, as if my African-intuition knew that something like this would happen. And with no internet this seamed like a good time to write a new post for the GoodyBags blog.

Birgit, Merete and myself are working on an application for a website called bidrag.no. It is similar to GivenGain, where an NGO puts up projects for the public to view. In this way people can get access to unlimited numbers of projects, and sponsor what they regard as important contributions to society.

For this reason todays plan was to get pictures that would illustrate what our organisation is all about. But this wouldn’t be Africa if everything went as planned, and I guess that is what makes it exciting to work here. No day is the same, and you always have to multitask and have a plan B.

So when I got to Kwenuha I discovered that everybody was gone.  The manager, Sister Perpetua, was in town on business. The girls had Friday off and the rest of the staff was out for lunch. Again, after spending some time in Zambia you learn that these are small insignificant errors, and you get good at working your way around them. Today, the way around was simply to find something else to shoot.

Since our journey started in 2010 we have many narratives to portray. One very important story is probably how we got inspired to start this organisation. Because we didn´t get the idea while we where working for the peace corps, but on our time off. It didn’t take long for a couple of shopaholics to discover that Livingstone lacked proper clothing stores, in fact there where none. And with a big passion for fashion we quickly trailed the solution to our problem.

In Livingstone there are hundreds of informal second-hand businesses, and one thing USAid sends is heaps of clothes. Vintage, second hand, beta products, high end. You name it they’ve got it. And so the treasure hunt had begun. Every weekend from then on we went to the local markets in hope of finding new gems. And there where many unique items.

But the down side of second hand shopping is that garment’s only come in one, single size. Most items we would simply swap between us. But often the clothes wouldn’t fit any of us, and if they where to small there was not much we could do. But when they where too big, had a outdated design, nice colour or good quality we simply took our new purchase to Emmah´s Wear.

Emmah and her husband started up a dressmaker shop many years ago. All the volunteers knew about her, most tourists would get festive Zambian clothes made and we got our second hand clothes altered and renewed in her shop. It is safe to say that she is an adored and respected lady. She has years of experience, and before starting up her business in Zambia she worked at a collage in Zimbabwe teaching tailoring. She did so for 10 years, during which she gathered talent and courage to start her own business.

We have definitely had the fortune of getting many nice things made by Emma and her employees, but that is merely all they have done. They have taught us about Zambian courtesy and work ethics, everyday struggle and what contentment is all about.  It was never just about purchasing wonderfully mended products, it was about building a much appreciated relationship. Emma knew from a very early stage what we wanted to create, and she is still giving us good advice on how to start up our organisation. She is an important piece in our puzzle, and we are very grateful to have her as part of our network.

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