Thursday, 4 April 2013

New Arrivals - My Nephew & SunnyMoney Model Wannabees

My sister is a regular reader of this blog mainly because she has been sitting at home bored rigid for the past 2 weeks waiting for her baby to be born.  Well, Easter Sunday turned out to be the 'big day' and I am now officially proud Auntie Kate to Noah Benjamin.  He was 7lb 8 and caused my sister a little bit of grief getting out but he's here now and will get spoilt rotten by me when I get home.  I'm back in London for 5 weeks in June/July before heading to Asia so we're already planning lots of cafe and park trips together so he gets to know me. 

My sister and I sound identical when we speak (its mainly our slightly varied vocabularies that people use to tell us apart) so when I used to speak to him in her tummy he used to be quite calm; my sister claims its because he thought it was her speaking to him and he was confused how she could project her voice outside her body :)  Anyway, she also claims I write this blog as though I'm speaking to her so, since I assume she'll be reading this to Noah to get him to sleep, I better start storytime properly like my parents used to do with us......if you're sitting comfortably I'll begin......

Last week was a busy week for SunnyMoney Zambia as it not only marked the end of our 2012/13 financial year, it was a record sales week for us (over 1000 lights sold), despite it only being a 4 day week.  We had three SunnyMoney Schools teams out in the field, in Solwezi mines (Robin & Alex), Choma (Claire, Dominic & Elizabeth) and Mazabuka (Mayase & George) which meant there were only five of us left in the office (Musonda, Karla, Sarah, Angela & Myself). Since it was a four day week the teams had to leave on Sunday lunchtime (24th March).  The stock was counted out on Friday ready to be loaded into the vehicles on Sunday.  As you can see from the pictures, this involved barricading me into my little corner, maybe not a wise move as I was responsible for allocating out their money for the trips.....maybe they forgot that ;)

After all the efforts of the team, counting the stock and preparing the paperwork, we were glad to receive our Friday Nshima lunch from Musonda - see picture below.  Nshima is the white mass on the plate, its a kind of maize meal that's cooked and stirred very carefully.  It even requires a special spoon as I discovered from this month's petty cash receipts :)  Zambians eat alot of Nshima and can happily have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  It's served with all sorts of 'relishes'.  In this case Musonda served it with a cooked rape and tomatoe mix and Boerewors sausage.  The Boerewors sausage comes in a long curly strip, a bit like a Cumberland sausage, and was cut up and shared amongst the team.  It was delicious and since it was a lovely sunny day we decided to eat it in the garden at the back of the office.

Nshima Lunch

Musonda, Claire & Alex

Musonda, Me, Alex

As you can see from my plate I had one Nshima portion but the lads managed to have 3 or more each.  Over lunch I asked Robin, our Solar Technician, how many he could eat in one sitting and I suggested 5!  I swear if I had that much I would lay fast asleep all afternoon but luckily it didn't have that effect on him.  In Nigeria, I had alot of pounded yam and they quite aptly called that 'knockout' because of its sleep inducing effects.  Well, Nshima may not have that nickname but it has the same effect on me so one portion was plenty.....after all I did have the year end accounts to prepare - eek!

Since I had the camera in the office and the ladies have begun to clock how many people around the world are reading my blog they decided to try and kick start their modelling careers with a few choice poses.  So, in now particular order, I can now introduce Elizabeth, Claire and Angela:

Claire & Elizabeth



Angela & Claire

Friday afternoon passed more quietly, mainly as we were all stuff with Nshima.  AfiD - I promise I did get back to work that afternoon - honest guv! ;)

After seeing off the teams on Sunday (I live so close to the office it seemed rude not to!) I headed out into town for a concert at the Holy Cross Anglican Cathedral in Ridgeway.  The cathedral is an absolutely enormous structure and stands pretty much in the centre of a traffic island which is a great shame as it makes photographing it extremely difficult.  With Church Road one side and Independence Avenue the other I thought you'd be deafened inside by the sound of traffic but thankfully it remained an oasis of calm.  Here's a ok-ish photograph I managed to obtain from Independence Avenue although it really doesn't do justice to the building:

The Holy Cross Cathedral was playing host to the Lusaka Music Society and Zambia Youth Orchestra on 24th March and I had been told to expect great things.  As I stepped into the cathedral I was overwhelmed by it's scale and beauty.  From the outside it looked a typical 60's building, grey and concrete, but inside you could see the finer details of the architecture with the side walls dotted with stunning stained glass windows.  The stained glass didn't depict religious scenes and so reminded me more of the new Coventry Cathedral than traditional Anglican cathedrals but other features, the wooden pews, embroidered knealing mats and plain, floor level alter reminded me of religious buildings at home.  The columns inside the building had Palm leaves tied together around them, setting the scene for Palm Sunday.

I wasn't expecting to find an organ but a spectacular one I found!  It was set into the building above the main entrance on a sort of mezzanine level.  The first recital was to be played from there so we had to turn around in our seats and look up to see the musicians (organist, cellist, 2 flautists and a singer).  The main doors to the cathedral had been left open and as we turned to face the music we got a view out of the cathedral, across its vast grounds and down Independence Avenue, just as the sun was setting. The whole thing was just magical and very very hard to express in words.  I hadn't taken my camera and on the whole don't like taking photographs in church so have only my memories to show for the evening but they're pretty good.

The evening progressed with a recital of Pomp and Circumstance from the newly formed Lusaka Youth Orchestra (I think the oldest member was about 8!) and Mendelssohn's Hymn of Praise from the Lusaka Music Society, the soloists of which were outstanding.  All in all a beautiful way to end the weekend.

With only five of us remaining in the office, the week passed relatively peacefully, allowing me to set the wheels in motion for our financial year end on 31 March.  It may not be as exciting as selling in the field but I gained a certain satisfaction from sorting out our paper records and reconciling our suspense accounts with the peace in the office allowed to make faster progress than I may otherwise have done.  I did have a mini-meltdown on Wednesday as the scale of work facing me here dawned but after a little wobble I soldiered on.  If it weren't for the team's constant support and encouragement I may have given up by now but they seem to appreciate the efforts being made and the processes I'm bringing which makes it worthwhile.
Since Friday was both the last trading day of the financial year and the return date of the field teams it was all hands on deck on Friday to get our cash in the bank.  Karla and I had done our Petty Cash checks earlier in the day and banked all the office cash so there was only the field team's cash left. The field teams had been great all week banking sales daily and keeping records for me (big thank you!!) but they couldn't bank their travel advance money until they were safely back so on Friday there was alot of clock watching going on.  Zambian banks close very early yet we'd managed to locate one in Kabulonga that was open until 17:00 so when the last field team returned at 16:30 (Mayase & George) exhausted after a 7hr road trip, Sarah scooped up tired Mayase and scootled off to the bank to deposit the remaining cash.  We also had to count all the returned field stock back into the container as the external auditors arrive on Tuesday (2nd April) to do a formal year end stock count so there was alot of activity on that front too.  Despite the tiredness the office was buzzing with activity.  It's testament to the team here just how committed and responsive they are that we have a clear stock and cash position at year end but I am very grateful to them for it.

This weekend has seen Easter celebrations in Lusaka.  I have found it a little weird not being with my family at this special time, especially as such momentous family events have been unfolding, but made the best of it getting out and about in the city. I will have to write about that another day though....including my sighting of Winnie the I have to get back to work now.

1 comment:

  1. My you have been a busy bunny! Time for some R&R and (***)'s when we come for the May holiday.