. Since it was my first workshop with Women for Change, I observed for the first 2 days, and then co-facilitated the sessions on gender equality. I really liked the participants, but that said, I understand that it was somewhat awkward for them to relate to a much younger, foreign, white woman. It was a rather grueling week for everyone, and I was very impressed by the participants' willingness to share their experiences and to engage in discussions on complex and uncomfortable issues. They were quite articulate and seemed very serious about wanting to address the problems they see in their communities. One of the funniest moments of the week was when we were having a group discussion on gender vs. sex, and biological differences between men and women. One of the older men was a real character and he told us that men have a mortar and two large pumpkins, which had everyone howling with laughter.
During the section on gender, I facilitated an activity where we split the men and the women and had each group write down how they spent an average day, from the time they wake up until going to sleep. The men estimated that they work about 11 hours per day, while the women figured they worked about 15 hours each day, sometimes with a short break but often not.
Friday was the last day of training and it was a long, difficult day
. We started around 8:30 in the morning and finished around 8:30 at night, after suffering from the heat all day. Around 6pm the power went out at the hotel where we were holding the workshop, and so we sat in the dark (after a little while, someone found some candles) and continued the session on governance. It was a bit ridiculous, sitting there in the dark, but I admire the patience of the participants and their willingness to carry on. Thankfully, the power came back on after about an hour. Saturday morning we said our goodbyes and gave the participants certificates for completing the workshop, but the biggest gift of all was a bicycle for each one of them. The headpersons come from villages where the roads are in very bad condition, although they don't have cars to drive, anyways. The chiefdoms cover quite large areas and Zambia has a low density population. Women for Change expects these leaders to share their education with other residents of their respective chiefdoms,which would be extremely difficult to do if they had to go on foot. I've posted some photos of the leaders getting their bicycles, because it was one of my favourite experiences of the week.While they are expected to use the bikes to conduct training sessions for the next year and a half, after that time the bikes are officially their property and can be used however they want. One man told me how he was looking forward to going home and seeing his grandchildren, who were going to be very impressed with their grandfather's new bike! It was a bit sad saying goodbye to everyone; I wish there had been more time to talk with them and hear their stories.
I've also included some photos that I took on the drive back from Ndola.
I spent the past week in Ndola, in the Copperbelt province, conducting workshops for village headpersons from four different chiefdoms in Masaiti district. It was an exhausting but exciting week and I'm still trying to make sense of everything that happened. I worked with a team of 3 other Women for Change staff to facilitate 5 days of workshops for the 28 participants. After completing the week of workshops, Women for Change provides resources and materials for these traditional leaders to return to their rural communities and educate others. It was a jampacked agenda with sessions on development, governance, HIV/AIDS, gender equality, human rights, land issues, and children's rights. A major challenge for me was the language barrier. The participants spoke some English and Bemba, but their main language was Lamba, a dialect of Bemba. I do not speak any Bemba or Lamba. At least, I didn't when I started the week. I picked up a handful of words along the way. We hired a interpreter for the week but the need for translation throughout the sessions made everything take much longer