I wanted to write this blogpost to highlight the differences between our everyday lives in the UK and that experienced here in Zambia.
We wake up early most mornings to make an 8:30 start on site. We are usually up before our alarms because the families of chickens in our yard like to get up early. After shoveling down some breakfast and applying some suncream we are out the door. Bus stops don’t exist here in Zambia so we wait on the side of the road, just outside our house, until we can flag down a bus heading into town. This is a relatively easy task as the conductors of the vehicles can be very insistent and are reluctant to drive quickly to there destination without a full bus. The buses we use in to town are called ‘BOOM’ buses and are branded with advertising making them easily identifiable, an orange stripe painted horizontally all the way around the side of the bus. We prefer these as they’re more spacious than the next bus we fetch to the OYDC.
This bus we get from the main bus station in town. Most mornings involve a long wait for the bus to fill before we can set off. Bus journeys are spent chatting, people watching and trying to spot the best Harvey tile advertisements, our favourite so far being:
“A roof without Harvey tiles is like a baby without nappies… it might leak”
Days on site are usually unpredictable and it can be difficult to plan. As a result it is necessary to be adaptive and make changes to the programme of works as required to limit time wasting.
Workers here rarely wear shoes and tend to work bare footed or in flip flops, as such a hard hat and a hi-vis is a very rare site. This can be difficult to watch as a UK citizen, used to the strict PPE. We try to demonstrate daily a safe style of working by dressing in PPE when appropriate.
Upon returning home it is a gamble whether we will have electricity or not, however, more often then not recently it has been on, with fewer power cuts occurring. These cuts are due to load sharing by the government to reduce costs, but it does make cooking very difficult. At times when the electricity is off the team tends to spend time chatting or reading by torchlight to pass the time until we can begin cooking again.
Showers are taken using a large bucket of water, which I am thankful to say is always hot, then scooping the water over yourself with a cup. Clothes washing is done using this same bucket and requires a great deal of muscle power to scrub the dust that has gathered from site off of them.
The team entertain themselves on an evening by playing card games, watching television and movies and of course writing blog posts before we clamber into our mosquito netted bunkbeds ready to start all over again.