October, 2006 Archives

20
Oct

Alert Your Face

by Pj in Random

BY PAMELA BOWMAN MESA ARIZONA – I like to laugh … a lot. As a matter of fact I am usually laughing in my head most of the time. Some people ask me? “Pam, are you happy today?” And I say, “Sure.” Then they say, “You should alert your face.”

I don’t have the most revealing of faces. In Zambia, Malumba Malumba, one of the actors was sharing his impressions of the crew members. He commented on M.K. and how she was so approachable. “You can tell she is in charge of public relations. She greets everyone with a smile and a hug.” He said that Jeaniece is just a sweet girl. He was the one that gave Cyndi the nick name Makumba. That means earthquake or when she walks in the room things start to move. Then he pointed to me and said, “When you meet Pam she looks straight in your eyes and sees into your soul. She is quiet and watches everything and everyone. I think she will tell the real story of Zambia.” The crew joined me in laughing on that one!

pamlaughing.jpgSometimes I had to go to my room because I just had to laugh into my pillow! How many people could come to the Kraal and ask for our coveted black t-shirts? How many of the drivers were going to ask how many different crew members for gas money, phone money and food money? The one that was over the top was when I sent a driver with K50,000 kwacha for phone minutes and he returned with K40,000. I asked him what had happened to the rest. He explained that he had decided to put the other K10,000 in his phone. WHAT? Or the time we gave the driver K60,000 for gas and only K40,000 was put in. “I am going to use the rest for my ride home.”

There were so many moments of sheer ridiculous requests. We had a cook. His name is Daudi. We loved Daudi. He cooked very well. And he tried so hard! The night before we left he approached me and said, “Pam, I want to come to America and be your personal chef in your home.” I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t help it. I had to laugh out loud and in his face. How could he think I could afford a personal chef? Cyndi received even more requests. One was for three computers to start an internet café! One person asked Jeniece for her hair! “Your’s will grow back.”

Of course the one time on the trip that I couldn’t contain my composure was when Cyndi fell off the bus and landed face first in the African dirt. “Cyndi, are you ok?” Both Alec and I asked. I mean we were concerned for her welfare. But before she answered I could feel my stomach start to tighten. She looked like she was doing the breast stroke in the African dirt for pete’s sake! She replied, “Yes! I am just so pissed!” She finally got up and stormed after M.K. Our windows slammed shut and the laughter bubbled over. She could hear the roar from outside! Just remembering…well my stomach is tightening up all over again! The image is burned in my brain. Too funny!

Yes, I learned many things about Zambia and about myself. I like to laugh …a lot and I think I have alerted my face!

15
Oct

Nurturing Dreams

by Pj in Random

BY PAMELA BOWMAN, MESA, ARIZONA, USA – As we edit the two films we created in Zambia, we each are affected differently by the footage we view. It is true we begin to feel the same feelings we felt as we relive some of the moments we experienced.

WomenChildren.jpgAs an older woman, I believe I saw and felt things many of the other students might not have seen or felt. For me, many of the most difficult or uncomfortable moments came when I spoke with other women of Zambia. Sometimes these moments came when Zambian men talked about their women.

I heard many men speak about the value they place in women in their role as mother and wife. They say they honor their women because they care for their future generation. I spoke with the women. Time after time they told me how they were home with the children and ended up having to find work wherever they could. They told me that their husbands and the father of their children rarely help support the children they fathered. Often they do not see their husbands for days. He shows up when he wants usually without offering financial assistance for their home or family. They feel abandoned by their men and by their government.

I do not suggest that this situation is unique only to Zambia. It is not. But it was in Zambia where I was interviewing the people. I was interested in their interpersonal relationships. One Zambian man told me that men were most important because they were the ones who contribute financially to the family. That, he said, is what makes men more essential. During our conversation, he mentioned that his wife worked also and had a better job then himself. He was glad because his employment was not always steady.

“Wouldn’t that make her a financial contributor to the family as well?” I asked. “Wouldn’t that make her just as essential?” He had to stop. He smiled awkwardly. He had a moment of realization.

I watched the men and their interaction with women. I watched their interaction with me. Many times, I felt degraded and I don’t even live there. During one scene in the feature, we tried to portray Zambia’s version of a wedding shower. At this party the bride receives instruction on how to care for and respect her husband and her children. She is told what is expected of her. I, of course, asked if men receive similar training. No. I was told that they do not. “It is the woman who has all the control. She runs the home. She raises our children. She is the queen.”

I spoke with many “queens.” They feel abandoned and are left with few choices. As part of my research, I would ask men, women and children the same question. “When you were young, what did you want to do when you were older? What did you want to be?” It was easier for the men and children to answer the questions. Many of the women would stop and reach for the memory of those early years. Years when they had dreams and goals. Years when they were a child themselves. They would look down at their withered hands. 3ZambianChildren.jpgThey looked around and saw their children running with hungry bellies. They would finger their own torn, worn clothes and tangled matted hair.

More often than not, they would flatly say, “What does it matter?”

It should always matter. How can a mother be the heart and soul of the family if her personal dreams do not matter to her or those of her family? Everyone deserves to have dreams and the support and ability to make their dreams come true, especially the queen!

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