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Day 6: Matthew

Early in our stay I was asked what I thought of Zambia. I said that we do our best to fix the broken things around our house and other items of appliance keep on breaking faster than our fixing process. Let me tell you one of my favorite examples of this principle of our home life.

A few weeks after we arrived here Dad got to go with many other staff members from the school to a game park. Together they thought about the direction for the school and other related things and hung out. People got to know Dad and it was generally a beneficial time. We held down the fort on the home front, greatly helped by our wonderful gardener. My story takes place on a Friday. Dad was to be arriving home that day. While we were doing school we heard gushing water. We went out side and realized that one of the pipes had burst. All of the pipes here run outside the house connecting to the things that use water through exterior walls. When given a good look you could see that these pipes had under gone many renovations since the house’s existence, some more effective than others. My mom and my sisters worked on the pipe a very little ourselves before deciding to call the very nice plumber friend of ours. During our early existence in this house he became very acquainted with us. The plumber was to arrive at about five and Dad would get home at about three, perfect, right? But unfortunately Dad’s ETA started to get later and later, till it too was set to five. Mom had to go pick him up and I was left to give the plumber instructions. Note this idea was not plan A. Mom left and about forty seconds later the plumber showed up. I showed him the leak and what water pipes we had shut off to “fix it.” He laughed a little (still not sure why) and then started to do his thing. I hung around near by. Then a little while later he went over to our trash pile and got a few pieces of cardboard. After tearing them up he asked me for a match. I was a little confused, and concerned. But I decided that it was better to just trust him. I got the matches and he used one to light the cardboard on fire, which he used to fix the broken pipe. (In the process the plumber accidentally got all of the matches wet). He left and about five minuets later the rest of my family got home. Four and a half weeks later another pipe broke and Dad tried to fix it the same way. It didn’t work.

This Post Has 5 Comments
  1. What an innovative way to solve the problem! I can’t imagine an American plumber thinking in that direction, and I imagine the Zambian plumber never gave it a second thought. What an opportunity this is to show you all the vast difference between how Americans generally live with all our creature comforts and the minimum that is truly necessary for health and happiness. Thanks for sharing, Matthew.

  2. I love your story, Matthew! Your dad is good at so many things. Guess he is not ready to be a plumber yet, but then neither am I. It’s always worth it to try, though.

    I like how you gave the instructions to the plumber yourself. Way to go!!

    Just imagine if you were in an African country where the plumber did not speak English. I can tell you, that makes it harder. Of course, nice African plumbers are pretty smart so they can usually understand when you point something out and make a couple of hand signals.

    It is great your family has you around to handle things like that when your parents are out for a moment!

    1. It would have made it a lot harder to communicate if I didn’t know the language. Unfortunately, at this point I was not used to the Zambian accent yet, and the plumber used different words for things than we would use in the US. So I did ask him what, pardon, and could you pleas repeat yourself, a lot more than what would have inspired his confidence in me.

  3. So, if PoPop were there he probably could have figured it out. Plumbing is his specialty when it comes to house repairs. Our pipes broke often; haven’t for a while. Our pipes run under the house. It is not Zambia , but still dangerous. Snakes move in under the house in the spring. PopPOP really does not like snakes. Then there is the touchy electric. Last time he made a trip under the house he got an electric shock!

    1. Then I think that his experience would match up with Sara’s better. Luckely for this project I stayed a safe enough distance away.

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