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Mpongwe and the Mumba Mosaic project. Day two: jigsaws, netball and running with dust.

And on the second day we persevered with mosaic making.

Lead artist Mara crafted the eagle that forms the centre piece. Helpers tiled around the main hand image. It’s looking something like this… (photo credit: Rosemary Cunningham – who’s also blogging. Go have a butchers.)

Now, although lots of fun is to be had sifting through shiny colourful tiles, smashing up large tiles, snipping them to shape and so forth, it turns out this is blooming tricksy stuff. For the mosaic to look superb once installed, the tiles need to fit neatly together. Otherwise loads of black grout fills in the spaces and rather hampers the aesthetic. I’ve never been one for jigsaws. Nor patience. For mosaic-ing, it helps to have an eye for the first and an abundance of the second. Nevertheless, despite the ineptitude of myself, and the lack of experience of our community helpers, under Mara’s tutelage a work of art is beginning to emerge.

Whilst Mara and crew were busy tiling in the borrowed second classroom, local plasterer (and one of Hilda’s brothers-in-law – married to Petroba, mentioned in Day One) Alex crafted the mosaic border. Helped by the local Chairman. Kudos to these lads – and their assistants – who toiled for hours in the heat to get the job done.

(Credit again to our Rosemary! My own photos still in the camera. No uploady thing)

**live update: just had to pop outside briefly to investigate a screechy animally sound. Large owl that had been scrabbling about in the roof flew over my head. Looked for all the world like a barn owl. Do they have those in Zambia? Who knew: owls play scrabble.***

Back to day two…

The other Very Exciting Thing (besides the mosaic) that happened today was speaking to the young women – Mercy and Lindewe (pictured in the top photo) – about setting up a netball club. They play a bit, but, as they explained to me; people just think we’re playing. Like children. They don’t think we’re being serious. These young women aren’t children, they’re 19 and 21 respectively. They want the opportunity to get serious about sport. Just as they see the young men getting serious about football (and getting football kits and getting in lots of photos and appearing on lots of websites – and this is all a Good Thing, and we need the same for Mpongwe’s young women.)

**it’s definitely a barn owl.**

We had a planning meeting, the three of us. (This is back with Mercy and Lindewe, by the way, the owls weren’t involved. In case you were wondering. They may be a whiz at scrabble, but netball isn’t really an owl thing.) Things we discussed:

  • A name? The Mumba Netball Club
  • Who’s going to be involved? Lindewe and Mercy are going to collect names of girls/women who are interested in learning, playing and competing at netball.
  • Ages? 15 – 25 (with some flexibility if others want to join)
  • Manager? Coach? They’re going to think about/talk to the others about who might be manager – ie person that generally organises things (club nights, training and competitions) and coach – ie someone with good netball skills and who is good at encouraging others that can plan training sessions. There could be a teacher at a nearby school able to teach a few girls/women how to coach.
  • Equipment? They have hoops. The Mumba women can probably make skirts and tabards. What they’d especially like from us UK supporters is t-shirts with a club logo. I tasked them to think about a logo. They see their club colours as: green skirts and tabards and perhaps a lemon yellow t-shirt. (They wanted white, but it was quickly pointed out that that’s not the best colour for any sport, let alone one taking place on a pitch of red dust.)
  • Place to play? They think they have a piece of land identified.

It was an exciting conversation. We talked about how even in the UK we’re trying to encourage more girls and women to enjoy sports and to play regularly. Lindewe and Mercy could be great role models for their village and the surrounding communities. They could show that girls playing sports is more than ‘children playing’. Girls and women can have an organised club where they can come together, learn sports skills, learn to play well, compete with other teams, learn to coach, encourage other girls and women to be active. As anyone involved with a sporting club will know – there’s much more to be gained than simply getting fit.

We’d love to connect the fledgling Mumba Netball Club up with a UK club that can help them get started. Especially a club in the Southend area. (Netball’s not my forte. I’m a fencer and, more recently, a runner. I would value some expert input!) Please to comment if you can help!

Having spent the afternoon discussing sports, thought I’d best get my runners on and pop off for a bit of a jog. The sun was beginning to set. It’s exactly how it is in films set in Africa. A large red ball hanging over an expanse of grassland, with the one thirsty tree scenically placed off to one side. (Minus the giraffe serenely passing by in slow mo.)  I went for just one mile. Mostly to find a handy circuit and to see what running here would be like. It’s hot, even at dusk, the altitude is noticeable (it’s around 4,000ft) but it’s the DUST that I particularly noticed. Sore throat, clogged up nose. Concern for my lungs. Happily, mosaic making requires dust masks, so that might help. (I already provide a spectacle by running, by being a mzungu running, and by being in bright orange running. A dust mask will make little difference to the open mouths of the small children I jog past. HELLO! HOW ARE YOU! I AM FINE!)

Creatures in my room tonight: my spider friend, a GECKO! (I loves a gecko) and a perplexed moth. Assisted the moth by cupping her gently in my hand (I love how they flutter) and directing her to freedom. There are some interesting looking creatures here. But I’m happy to pick up a moth. You know where you are with moths.


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