Laurel and Associates, Ltd. – Madison, WI



On September 9, 2013, Posted by , In Travelogue, By , , With Comments Off on Lusaka

Today was the seventh module: Marketing and Stakeholder Management. Two young women, Judith and Monica, were there when we got to the training site at 7:40! Tabo came 10 minutes later, and Alex came 30 minutes later.

I didn’t tell you that I gave out plastic puzzles yesterday as the metaphor for facility management- and they absolutely LOVED them. They loved them so much that they worked assiduously on them all day and that evening, and these four came back for more. So I’ve learned that if I give out puzzles, that can keep the early and on time participants well occupied until either the others arrive or I break down and start the session.

So that is what the first three worked on, and when Alex got there, I decided enough was enough and we started at 8:45. Eventually 5 more trickled in, for a grand total of 9 participants. The program went as planned, but because we lacked a lot of conversation (I had been told to expect 25 when I was back in the States and 15 yesterday, so the activities were paced accordingly. We were able to end at 1:15, so everyone could go to lunch and then leave.

Tabo, who is the 28-year old Administration Manager for Dovecot Nursing College, sat with me at lunch (which included quail again!) He lives with his extended family (grandmother, parents, siblings) an hour and a half away from Lusaka. He is Adventist, so said grace, doesn’t eat pork or bottom feeders like lobster, etc.-very much like a Kosher diet.

He studied in the UK and we had a long discussion about the national health care they offer for free to anyone, even those there on visa. I bemoaned the fact that national health care in the US is a very hard sell. When I asked how the UK financed health care, he said that there were a number of taxes. There is also a graduated income tax, so that those who are very wealthy pay 40%. I explained that the Republicans have fought against changing the US tax base, which lets the wealthy essentially avoid paying taxes.
He said that if he were very wealthy, he would not mind paying a higher tax because it would be the fair thing to do. He and Warren Buffett should get together!

We discussed the fact that poor Zambians make $100 a month!!! so they can’t afford a car. I had noticed that gas was about 9 K a liter, which he explained is approximately $2. Since I think he said that there are 3 liters to a gallon, gas is $6 a gallon. He has a car, so he feels very fortunate.

Tabo also told me that he plans to have a chicken business, so I advised him to speak with Vivian to get some tips. He wants to be up and running before Christmas, because Zambians cook a chicken the way we celebrate by cooking a turkey.

We talked about discrimination. He said that Zambians were very welcoming to foreigners, they just discriminated among themselves. There are what he called ethnic groups (from specific villages) who have high paying jobs in the government. He said there is a lot of nepotism. In Zambia, everyone looks similar to each other, so the only way you can tell who is who is by their names. This is opposed to another African country (I can’t remember now, sorry) where there are two ethnic groups that are physically very different, so it is very easy to tell them apart.

We had been told that we would have to move to another smaller room for the last day of training. After lunch, the participants left and then we waited and waited and waited for the staff to set it up.
One of the men on staff came in to chat about the music that I play. He wanted to know what kind of music it was and if he brought a thumb drive, could he download some of it. I explained the problem that the other chap had yesterday and suggested that if he brought a blank CD, we might be able to burn some of the songs on it. He’s going to try to do that.

Vivian and I had a long chat (actually, she chatted and I listened) while we were waiting. She is certified to conduct entrepreneurship training for the International Labor Organization. The class should take a month, but frequently is scheduled for two weeks. Because the participants need to complete and submit a business plan for review and then present it, they may work in the training room all night. This is after sitting in training from 8 am until 10 p.m.! They have two facilitators, so they alternate teaching in the am or in the pm.

Her work with ILO has taken her to many countries. She’s been doing it since 1906, so she is a master teacher who conducts train the trainer classes for individuals who want to be certified by ILO to provide the entrepreneurship classes. They have a good system, because the participants need to present in the class and then they are audited when they conduct their first class.

She told me that at one time she sold 5000 chickens a month to the Congo, which has to feed all the miners. Because of the war, no crops were being cultivated.

I asked her how she handled vitamins and injections for the chickens (which Tabo had told me were needed). She said that you take the water away from the chickens for an hour, and then put the vitamins and medicine in the water. The medicine for 1000 chickens comes in a small vial. To make sure that all of the chickens get the medicine, you put a blue dye in the water. Then you can tell which chickens have gotten the medicine because their beaks are blue!

She told me about the four “boys” (I think they’re in their late 20’s) who she employs to tend her gardens and take care of the chickens. Two of them sleep on the farm. She explained that she had to fire the lead “boy” because he was taking the oil and maize and other food that she brings for the workers and giving it to a 46-year-old woman in the village that he was sweet on. He was also drinking. She had already given him a second chance and he blew it. Since she liked him and had planned to finance his college, she was very disappointed.

She likes to go to the farm and work, but she hasn’t been there for three or more weeks (with her attention focused on scheduling and assisting with this training). When she is there, she says she has to wear very heavy gumboots, because the snakes can’t bite through them. She told me about the snakes and I’m going to have nightmares already, so I’m not going to repeat what she said. I’m shivering and cringing just writing this to you!

She also told me about a plague of worms that ate anything green in the fields overnight, so she lost last year’s entire crop of maize. This year, she had one of the boys walk the fields to see when the worms came (she said they come for three years straight, then go away for a while). He found them coming up out of the ground in the middle of the fields, so she hurried there with some pesticide and was able to save the crop.

Vivian said that was why she was interested in focusing only on the chickens and pigs, because they only got sick and could be treated for it.

I misunderstood her yesterday when I thought she said she raised cockerels. Apparently she did at one point, but they fight, kill and eat each other in a matter of minutes. Yikes! So now she raises broilers. She said that she can’t eat any of her chickens (remember, these chickens are in the thousands!) because she thinks of them as pets…

We finally went into the new training room, to find that it still wasn’t set up. I immediately began throwing tables and chairs around. I regret that I sounded like an ugly American, because I was tired and upset that we had waited while nothing happened. I wasn’t very kind to the small man who alone had been sent to change the room (which included moving out very heavy tables).

Vivian and I schlepped the three flip chart easels, two boxes of materials, a very heavy box of what they call mineral water but we would call bottled water (I pushed it along the floor, because it was too heavy to pick up and I also didn’t trust that the flimsy box wouldn’t fall apart.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned that none of the flip charts stay up unless I prop the back leg against a chair. So I’ve been getting a lot of exercise lifting and carrying floppy flip chart easels, then racing to get a chair to prop them up.

I put up my kites, we put things on the tables, and finally we were done. It is a much smaller room, so my kites and the colors of the Koosh balls and construction paper on the tables are much more vivid.

Oh, we had some excitement. While Vivian and I were waiting for John to come back from a meeting to take us home, we heard a woman shouting, “Help! Help!” I just thought someone was fooling around, but Vivian went to check. It turned out that a woman was locked in one of the restroom stalls. Vivian had to unlock it from the outside! It’s a darn good thing Vivian responded!!

John finally came to pick us up. Vivian made sure to notify the front desk about the restroom stall door situation- and also to tell them that they would need to change the linen on the tables and chairs (they cover the chairs) because they were all soiled from the group that was in there earlier today.

On the way back to the hotel, I asked him about schools in Zambia. They follow the English model that the English no longer use. Kindergarten goes for a half day, from 7:30 to 12 or 1- with day care for the rest of the day if needed.
Primary students go for half a day- sometimes in the morning and sometimes in the afternoon. Secondary students go for a full day.

To move from primary to 7th grade, children need to pass an exam. If they don’t, and if they also don’t choose to repeat a grade, they are no longer in school. There is another exam to go into 9th grade and a third exam to complete secondary school. A lot of children end up without additional schooling, because the available slots in colleges are very limited and so is the job market. It’s probably not the best way to build an economy.

So, tomorrow is the very last training. I have a box full of prizes and materials that I never used because the original count of 25 participants per session never materialized. I’ve toyed with leaving them with Vivian for future training, but since I paid for these myself (not my client, Banyan Global) I don’t really want to do that.

I’ll bring it all back to the hotel tomorrow night and if I can’t fit it all into my suitcase (a strong possibility) I’ll have to go purchase another one. I plan to have one free day in Lusaka (Friday) before I get on the 2.5-hour flight to Johannesburg and then the 16 hour flight to Atlanta and whatever the flight time is from Atlanta to Madison.

Well, I’ve got to prepare for tomorrow.



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