Wednesday, July 15, 2009


“The Earth is round, we shall meet.” This was one of Roy Kazanda’s favorite lines. Roy worked for FORGE as our PM Assistant (AKA: right hand man, savior, translator, bike mechanic, veterinarian, chef, etc.) and he was also our neighbor and a great friend. He repatriated to Angola in April, to live in a country without stipulation to his movement, employment or education.

Two hours after Michael Jackson died, we knew. Globalization and interdependency may not play as visible a role in Meheba on a macro level as it would in other more glamorous parts of the world, but there are plenty of indications that even in this isolated place, we are closer to each other and to the rest of the world than even eight months ago. That was when cell phone reception came to the settlement, we all (international staff and refugees) now speak to our families and friends in our home countries all over the world with a regularity that we never had and its assurance not only brings us closer to the familiar relationships from our past, but links our privilege with the experience of the refugees who never had this kind of access to knowledge, or dare I say power, in their country of asylum.

Every time we demolish the invisible barriers that break the continuity of our existence, I am reminded of the reciprocal and spherical shape that our lives can take. Or so I tell myself. The inevitability of leaving a place that in all likelihood you will never return to is heartbreaking. The concept is amorphous, yet terminal, simple and terrifying. Until I discover small but remarkable symbols of the modernity that is redeeming an otherwise impenetrable fear of finality.

Our FEF-U students in Lusaka are on facebook after all.


This show is one of the most important contributing factors (besides our cats) to our survival here. We often joke that whatever our work was in the day time was irrelevant, and that our real lives were in LOST, what we came home to watch every night. Yeah, reintegration therapy, anyone?

Creating a Meheba edition of Lostpedia was a nightly activity that one year later, still hasn’t gotten old. Some of the most front running analogies from our hundreds of hours of analysis are listed bellows.

The Island = Meheba. Duh. It’s healing/destroying powers are particularly applicable to laptops and other high tech gadgets. Also, time passes on the island in strange ways, sometimes not moving at all, and other times we find time is behind us before we our minds have time to catch up.

The Others = The Mission. They live in Meheba, yet somehow have satellite internet, television, gas stoves, refrigerators, 24/7 electricity, two brand new and sparkling clean SUVs, hot showers, and a sculpture garden for the Mother Mary.

The Dharma Initiative = AAR. AAR was a Japanese NGO that worked in Meheba for a decade doing all sorts of high budget development activities that we think were actually experiments. Autoshop, carpentry, building wells and bridges, photography (there is a dark room for photo development in Sherie’s room, with thousands of pictures of random Japanese people from the 80s).

There are also random refugees who still wear clothes with Japanese writing and bow when they greet you and once in a while you will come across a strange diagram in some nook or cranny of the compound with Japanese writing captioning a foreign looking contraption from the future. They also pimped out our compound with flood lights, big scary dogs, running hot water, and other luxuries.

The Button = Solar battery alarm. Every night when our battery runs out of power it starts beeping, and we immediately run to turn it off. We have no idea what will happen if we don’t press the button.

Jack’s Dad = Atlantic (name changed for protection reasons). This refugee pops up everywhere he shouldn’t be. Sherie will see him in Block A the same day I will see him in Block G the same day Nick will see him in Lusaka. He might be a figment of our imagination??

Friday, July 3, 2009

Blog is Back!

Africa and technical difficulties are pretty much synonomous. No idea how or why all my blog posts and comments disappeared, and of course I haven't had the prolongued internet time to recover them :(, but I just dug them up on my external (because my computer died for the umpteenth time this year) and will work another new one soon!

What's been happening? Cliff notes: vacation in Botswana and Namibia for the past couple weeks.
today, picking up the new PMs who will be replacing us when we leave- in THREE WEEKS! WHAT!?