Here is an excerpt from a message from Marylee Banyard, who is now in Zambia. On a recent trip into the nearby town of Monze, she encounters both old and new, from technology to polygamy to children orphaned by AIDS:
“We have laminating facilities in Monze now. It sort of works, but is a little gimpy. Photocopying too… the page comes out with a dark mass at the top.
“The man there gave me a big lecture about, “Why is it always women and orphans? What about the MEN!” He said he is a grandfather supporting an orphan at Zimba school. He also said that he was born in a hut, not a hospital, and BaTonga culture has good midwives. We foreigners don’t understand Tonga culture.
“I said we should go have a cup of coffee, as he was continually being interrupted and dealing with all sorts of people with issues while he was arguing with me and trying to laminate.
“He also said women bring it on themselves because they don’t have to be second and third wives. They have choice. [ed: Polygamy is still legal in Zambia.]
“From him I went to see Sister Lontia at the St Vincent de Paul Community School in Monze. We discussed many things. Concerning second and third wives, she pointed out their usual circumstances of poverty and insecurity. The children they bring with them into the marriages are often not accepted by the new husband, and the real father has probably died or vanished.
“She has 204 children in the school, of which 123 are orphans, and 77 are “vulnerable”. Sometimes the economic pressure is too great for families and children are abandoned. Although the school tries to charge K5,000 ($1.25 Canadian) per term (3 terms a year ) the school accepts all, even if they can’t pay. They are Catholic Mission funded.”