29-Oct-2009 -- Zambia is a beautiful country that is close to my heart. Good friends of mine run a missions base in Mongu (www.zam.co.za) and they are hugely involved in humanitarian projects like schooling, empowering the local people through business initiatives, medical outreaches, and the building of orphanages for HIV/AIDS orphans and other vulnerable children.
Just recently the project leader, Paul van Coller, had the privilege of being granted an audience with the Letunga (King of the Western Province of Zambia). In this meeting it was agreed that the project would be given a huge amount of land to build a school and an orphanage. There is definitely a huge need for these kinds of initiatives, especially in the Western Province, given that the area is the most rural and poorest part of Zambia.
One of the projects I got involved in was the installation of a mechanical hand pump in the village of Luena. The Zambezi flood plain is a very sandy area and as a result the sides of hand dug wells continually collapse once the water table has been exposed. This means that the local people are forced to draw their water from an exposed source which is open to contamination from diseases like dysentery and diarrhoea. Clean drinking water is a basic need which we in the Western world take completely for granted. As you can imagine being involved with a humanitarian effort like this was a real life-changing event.
And now on to the Confluence... Mutoya, the Zambia Project base, is just 37 km from the Confluence of 15S 23E, as the crow flies. Being a GPS enthusiast I quickly realised that this was quite within driving range of the base and plotted a route on Google Earth across the flood plain. We set off at around 10 a.m. from Mongu and drove up through Limulunga and out across the mostly dry flood plain, crossing a handful of small streams. The drive there was for the most part uneventful although the roads are very sandy and so we needed to keep the vehicles' momentum up at all times to avoid getting stuck. After about 2 hours of driving we drove right onto the Confluence and had quickly taken all the required photos. Conveniently, there was a huge tree a couple of hundred meters away, under which we had lunch and relaxed before driving back to base. All in all a great adventure!