May 2, 2014, 9:10 AM EST
A pair of Notre Dame men’s soccer alums, Greg Klazura (’11) and Mike Rose (’12), are on a six-month internship with Grassroots Soccer in Zimbabwe and are sharing their story with us as it goes. This week, Greg returns to the keyboard and talks about pretty much everything …
I want to apologize to the world for the lengthy interval since my last blog post. I can assure you that I have a valid reason and as you might have guessed, it was indeed Rose’s fault. I actually fell asleep for a solid four weeks waiting for Mike to pick me up from soccer practice. I just woke up several days ago. Mom, I’m sorry I haven’t been responding to your emails, I’m doing great, incredibly rested actually.
Everything document, described, and photographed in the following post all occurred in the in the past few days. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with four weeks of sleep. Since we have been so busy this post is much longer than normal, maybe read half, take a nap, then read the other half – so much more efficient.
Women all over Bulawayo carry their babies on their backs using large blankets or towels, it’s so gosh darn cute. This is the lady on the corner who I buy avocados from. They are only fifty cents – Rose and I are currently considering becoming Zimbabwe’s largest/only guacamole provider.
For those of you who are familiar with the popular drinking establishment in South Bend known as Finny’s we have some great news. There is an African Finny’s. We had no idea they were going global. African Finny’s is called Club Xtreme and we couldn’t think of a more fitting name. Club Xtreme is down two flights of stairs in the basement of a run down building in town. There are no windows and no emergency exits. The cement floor is slick with beer and sweat, and thankfully a healthy amount of broken glass provides adequate traction. African and American hip-hop blare through a DJ booth that is enclosed in steel bars to prevent any thievery. Beers are a dollar. Above is a picture of Bantu teammates African Mike, Raphael, me and Nkosi from left to right at Club Xtreme.
Above is a clip of some live artists at “Club Forty” in town. My cinematography is terrible. Despite my poor recording the clips show a little bit of what the “scene” is like.
Military band at the Bulawayo Trade Fair.
Rose and I were this close to buying our very own Steer.
I was pretty disappointed to see that my motherland had such a poor showing at the Bulawayo Trade Fair. There was no one at the booth and there were no complimentary pamphlets. At the very least they could have been handing out warm perogies.
The previous five photos are of the Bulawayo Trade Fair. It is actually a huge week-long event with hundreds of vendors and thousands of people. Imagine the job fair at Notre Dame but bigger and with more livestock for sale. The president, Robert Mugabe, was actually in attendance although we didn’t see him. Our internet went down that day and apparently cell service/internet is often shut down when he visits.
I spy a white guy.
I took the two hour drive to Gweru the other day to pick up some equipment, soccer balls etc…, from one of our programs there. Gweru is the largest city in the Midlands. Above is a picture of the Midlands. Zimbabwe’s Midlands and America’s Midlands look remarkably similar. If you look closely though, you can see a lion on the far left of the photo. If you can’t find it, keep looking.
Above is an extremely committed Dynamos fan. If that guys loses his grip he will most certainly die. He has a great view I’m sure. Totally worth it.
If I had a better camera you could appreciate the fact that the Harare Dynamos are all standing shoulder to shoulder in the their goal facing east, praying. This is apparently a long-standing tradition for the Dynamos. A lot of teams have interesting traditions/superstitions. My personal favorite is that many teams won’t allow women on the playing field anytime before or during the game. In fact, in the photo below the Bantu Rovers walked out with some GRS graduates before the game, boy graduates only of course. Boys rule, girls drool!
Bantu and Dynamos pre-game walk out.
Bantu is currently 2-2 heading into our fifth game this Wednesday. We lost to the Black Rhinos and Dynamos but had victories over How Mine and Chapungu. The Dynamos are from Harare. The two biggest clubs in Zim are the Dynamos and the local Highlanders. Bantu will only play two games in the large stadium, Barbour Fields, this year. One against Dynamos and the other against the Highlanders. The rest of our home games are at the much smaller Luveve Stadium. There were probably 20,000 people at the game against the Dynamos and it was a pretty wild affair. Bantu was up 1-0 for much of the game but unfortunately gave up 3 goals in the second half. After the Dynamos scored their second goal a rogue Dynamos fan would occasionally sprint into the Highlanders fan area (Highlanders fans were there to support Bantu because we are from Bulawayo and they despise the Dynamos). Highlanders fans would then rush the rogue fan with kicks and punches until security intervened and the rogue fan would then sprint back to Dynamos side amongst cheers from their fellow fans.
Above is a picture of my Bantu Teammate Master, pronounced Masta, and his daughter Blessing in the township of Inyama. His daughter is very sweet and Masta is a hilarious guy actually. Masta showed me some family photo albums while I was in his flat and he always had such a serious face. I asked him why and he laughed saying, “I have to look tough my man!”
Mike and I have been able to spend some more time in the townships in the past few weeks. Three weeks ago I took a soccer ball and walked through Makokoba, which is the oldest and arguably poorest township. In a matter of twenty minutes I felt like the Pied Piper as a group of 15 kids or so followed me around. I wanted to take a stroll, leave the soccer ball with some future African soccer star, and continue on my way. Leaving the ball, however, almost immediately became impossible because I clearly didn’t have 15 soccer balls on hand. The poverty in Makokoba and the townships in general can be overwhelming. Not all homes, however, in the townships fit the stereotypical third world paradigm. Most all have TV’s, running water, electricity, and plumbing. Power and water cuts, however, depending on the time of year can be frequent. Plumbing is not exactly reliable, outdoor showers/toilets are common, and many times entire families squeeze into one bedroom homes.
Above is a photo of Tony cruising through Mzilikazi, another township, with Jika Jika Night Club on his left. Land and land in the townships is a particularly interesting phenomenon in Zimbabwe. No one in Zimbabwe owns land. the government owns all of the land and the closest thing to land ownership anyone can have is a 99 year lease. Township homes and flats are crammed together. In between townships, however, there are large stretches of open land that are not zoned as living areas and remain unoccupied. Most township residents rent their homes to a landlord who has a 99 year lease with the government.
The billboard guys are sitting on an Ingwebu sign. Ingwebu and Chibuku are the two large manufacturers of traditional sorghum (African grain) based beer. They are both sour and silty and must be shaken before consumption in order to evenly disperse the sediment inside the drink. It’s sort of like drinking sour beer with pulp. Ingwebu is served in local beer gardens out of what look like large milk cartons or larger containers called gourds. If you find yourself in a beer garden in Bulawayo or you’re sitting around drinking Ingwebu with your African friends out of a large bucket be sure to take a sip and pass it to your neighbor, that’s what you do.
Match kick off
Totally sweet panoramic shot
That looks comfortable.
Waiting for the game to start.
In ironic fashion Good Friday was also Zimbabwe’s Independence Day. There were some local festivities and a free soccer match between the Highlanders and Harare City at White City Stadium. I went with Hloniphani and Tony. Apparently we missed the pre-game entertainment, marching soldiers, so we grabbed an ice cream cone from a vendor and waited for the game to start. I am convinced that there are few things as patient as an African crowd. It was hot, most everyone was sitting on the concrete sidewalk, which circles the stadium at an abrupt 30 degree angle and…nothing was happening-no singers, no dancers, no fireworks, no band, no mascot jumping through a hoop of fire. Just 15,000 people sitting in the blazing sun, waiting for the game to start. The festivities also paled in comparison to what was televised in the capital, Harare. Bulawayo is located in Ndebele speaking Matabeleland. The Ndebele only account for roughly 30% of the population in Zimbabwe. The Shona account for the other 70%. Early in Mugabe’s rule, some 30 years ago, he was accused of genocide-murdering thousands of Ndebele people in Matabeleland. Although there are many proud Zimbabweans in Bulawayo the population here is generally not pro-Mugabe.Although Mike and I stick out like a sore thumb no matter where we go I felt particularly out of place at the Independence Day Celebrations. Zimbabwe gained independence after a decade long civil war against minority white rule in 1980. Despite the change in power Zimbabwe still has an extremely small minority white population, some families have been living here for the past 100-150 years. Although there are many western international aid agencies throughout Zimbabwe there are not nearly as many as there are in neighboring Zambia due to the tumultuous political climate in the past 15 years. Long story short, makiwas in Zimbabwe are rare, makiwas in Matabeleland are a novelty, makiwas at a Zimbabwean Independence parade in Bulawayo are like unicorns.
Above is a picture of Hlonipani and Tony at White City Stadium and five other pictures of Independence Day festivities. Hlonipani has featured in Makiwa Abroad posts before. I find him to be a lovable dunce of sorts. Hloni struggles with English since he grew up in the “rural areas” and didn’t receive formal education until High School. His conversation always makes me chuckle and he reminds me of my dad. Let me explain.
My dad lived in West Germany for three years while he was in the army. Although he managed to lasso my mother while in Europe he never exactly mastered German. Frequently when my dad sees a dog he says, “Ah, ein hund” which translates directly to, “Ah, a dog.” When you struggle with a language its common to stick to what is obvious and what you know, for my dad it’s dogs. I often walk into the house and Hlonipani will say “Ah, craig owfa?” (owfa is slang for whatsup). I reply swi-swi which means ok and then drop my stuff in my room and walk back into the kitchen. I’m immediately re-greeted with “Ah, Craig owfa?” I hit him with another swi-swi. This typically happens 5-10 times per day, regardless of the time elapsed since our previous greeting. Stick to what you know-smart. One evening around 8 pm our power went out. The house suddenly went completely black. Hlonipani immediately pointed out, “Ah, Craig no electricity.” I hit him with a swi-swi. Pointing out the obvious-pragmatic.
In the clip above guards prevented anyone from using the stands because they were deemed unsafe. The guards either decided to leave or made the command decision that the seating was structurally sound. Almost immediately afterwards people from around the stadium started racing over to get a seat. I thought it was quite the spectacle. I opted to stay put.
Unfortunately my work permit still hasn’t been approved so I haven’t played in any games yet. Bureaucracy in Zimbabwe doesn’t exactly function like clock-work. At least I have a sweet Bantu jersey now! Above are the midfielders.
Team Photo! Rose was absent on picture day, I think Methembe planned it that way.
Casually walking with a large cooler on her cranium.
This DVD combo containing High School Musical 3 and Step Up fell out of a tree right in front of me while I was walking to practice. I was initially startled and then devastated to see that the disc was broken beyond repair.
Zimbabwe experienced crippling hyper-inflation in 2008. Zimbabweans had to walk around with suitcases full of money just to pay for bread. Businesses would not accept checks because by the time the check was cashed its value was usually cut in half. This 5 billion dollar bill will make an awesome souvenir though!
Caterpillars and sadza, hmmmmmmmmm.
Above is a group of soldiers pushing a broken military vehicle through town. That’s normal right?
First home win against How Mine at Luveve Stadium!
Local boys taking advantage of a tree to watch the game without having to pay an entrance fee.
Population Services International (PSI) invited Grassroot Soccer to a local Circumcision outreach event. PSI is a huge multinational health/aid agency that provides almost all of the HIV testing/circumcisions in Zimbabwe. No one in the office really had time to go but we didn’t want to snub PSI so they sent the intern obviously. The whole event was centered around a prominent jazz musician, Albert Nyathi, “Making the Cut.” Above is a procession of supporters leading him into the clinic. I don’t remember that sort of ceremony for my circumcision. I feel totally snubbed.
Pre-game meal with the team at the house – sadza, beef stew, and greens.
Above is a clip of Tommy Lobben stirring the sadza at an office braai, not that well according to our co-worker Tanya. Tommy has been living in Zambia and working for GRS for the past five years. He is a former Dartmouth soccer fullback and he came to Zimbabwe to be the Managing Director, second in command behind Methembe, at the Zimbabwe office. Marisa Lobben, wife not sister, has been living in Zambia for the past four years and they met during her intern year. They just got married a couple months ago and moved to Bulawayo about four weeks ago. Mike and I are thrilled that they are spending their honeymoon with us. Marisa is helping Bantu with marketing, social media, ticket sales, etc…I thought I had a picture of the Lobben’s together but I don’t, you’ll have to wait until next time!
My hair was getting long and unruly. I decided to enlist the help of the two girls I tutor at King George the VI school. I figured they would enjoy the unique opportunity to cut some Makiwa hair. Above is a clip of Primrose and Ginogirl and their thoughts on my new ‘do.
Most grills in Zimbabwe are homemade. This BBQ is a steel drum cut in half with some sort of mesh-metal door frame on top.
Nurse Frances killing it on the grill.
My favorite way to eat traditional food in Zimbabwe is the braai or BBQ. In Mapisa we picked up some tomatoes, onions, and meat, then headed to the local BBQ pit. At the local Braai you can use a grill and purchase a communal plate of sadza and have a few drinks. It was a great way to end the day.
Dr. Mthunzi and me.
Nurse Frances and me.
Waiting for a ride at Natisa.
Soccer in the street outside the Natisa Clinic.
I mentioned before that I want to use some of my free time to see health care in Zimbabwe. I was able to connect with a physician named Dr. Malaba who works at the very rural Mapisa Hospital. On Monday morning I found myself in another combie careening south on Matopos Road.
Two hours later I arrived at the hospital. I put my collared shirt on behind a group of bushes and strolled into Mapisa. There were no cows, just goats, inside the hospital ground. I took that as a good sign. I walked up to the first official looking person I saw and asked if Dr. Malaba was around. The man nonchalantly said that he was gone for the day. I was wrong about the cows.
I turned to look at the outdoor waiting room and was greeted with the unassuming stares of what felt like a thousand Africans. I decided to phone Dr. Malaba. Dr. Malaba in what seemed like no small miracle answered the phone and told me to track down Dr. Mthunzi. After a bit more legwork I found Dr. Mthunzi and we were off on his morning rounds. In the span of the next three hours I saw genital warts, Tuberculosis, drug-resistant Tuberculosis, a broken arm, Hepatitis B, burns, malnutrition, an infected leg wound and dozens of cases of HIV. Then Dr. Mthunzi filled out some paper work and I watched a Nigerian film in a nearby home with a nurse and her grandfather. After that we had a braii (BBQ) with some of the nurses around three. As luck would have it Dr. Mthunzi was actually heading back to Bulawayo for a conference and I was able to ride with him instead of a combie. I was right about the cows.
Since my first visit to Mapisa went so well I went back again. Dr. Mthunzi said that I could meet him at the Natisa Clinic in the morning for a circumcision blitzkrieg of sorts or continue on to Mapisa. I decided to head back to Mapisa. Dr. Mthunzi had already done rounds in order to get to Natisa, which is on the way to Mapisa, confusing I know. Dr. Malaba was finishing up with outpatients and I was only there for a half hour or so before Dr. Malaba said he was done for the day. The all day circumcision team that was supposed to leave in the morning for Natisa quite unsurprisingly hadn’t left yet. I was able to hop in the Toyota Safari Cruiser sandwiched between Dr. Mthunzi, the gear shifter, and the driver in the front seat. On the way a man appeared at the side of the road waving his arms and the driver routinely whipped the vehicle off the road through the waist high grass and savannah trees. A few hundred yards off the highway a kraal (African hut) appeared. Everyone hopped out and Dr. Mthunzi made a quick house call. Then we jumped backed into the vehicle and steamed north for Natisa. On arrival there were at least forty boys lined up, ready to “Make the Cut.” I asked head Nurse Ndlovu what time the last combie into Bulawayo goes by. She said, “oh around 6.” After I watched Dr. Mthunzi perform more than a half dozen circumcisions it was 5:15 pm. I went to wait by the side of road for the last combie into town. I didn’t want to miss it. It was soon 6 pm. All of the combies that had gone by were going in the wrong direction. The sun was setting and I was getting a bit anxious. 6:15 rolled around and so did a truck heading towards town. The small group of women hanging out by the side of the road with me whistled loudly. The truck screeched to a halt. They looked at me like, “Well, aren’t you gonna get in?” I didn’t want to be rude.
There were three guys in the truck. I put on my meanest, toughest, please I’m desperate for a ride back into town face. They told me to hop in and within minutes we were all having a great chat on our way back to Bulawayo. I shouldn’t say we, the guy in the back, next to me, didn’t open his mouth for the entire hour long trip. Mnce, that is not a typo, and his friend riding shotgun told me about their rural development trust they are trying to start and also wanted to know all about healthcare in the US. There was plenty to talk about.
The following day Dr. Tinos, a friend of Dr. Mthunzi, met me at Mpilo the largest public Hospital in Bulawayo. It turns out that Dr. Tinos is the same guy that prescribed my dysentery medication a few months ago, small world. He brought me to the Opportunistic Infections Clinic, next door to the main hospital. The OI clinic is essentially an entire building devoted to managing the treatment of HIV positive people in the community. There is a ward for children, adolescents, and adults, a pharmacy and also a playground in the courtyard. Imagine a building the size of an elementary school in a city the size of Albuquerque, crammed with patients waiting to refill their HIV medication. I was able to see the clinic and also sit in on patient consultations for a couple of hours. The harrowing reality of HIV in Zimbabwe is that this scene is status quo.
On my way home I stopped by the Emthunzini Orphanage at the recommendation of former intern Derek Stenquist. Unlike the previous orphanage Mike and I visited Emthunzini was in rough shape. Most of the property smelled of raw sewage thanks to broken pipes the city still hadn’t come to fix.
That evening I received a phone call from my friend Tony who is the maintenance man for GRS. Tony’s girlfriend’s friend’s boyfriend, Alfred, had fallen on his arm and apparently it was quite swollen. I told Tony that I was not a doctor and that he should go to the hospital. He said that Alfred had already been to the hospital and couldn’t afford an X-Ray and that I needed to come take a look. I did my best to tell Tony that there wouldn’t be anything I could do given my medical experience. When I was little, my dad used to tell me when I whined about a bruise or scrape that I had two options, “Well Greg, you can either do nothing or you can cut it off.” I’m still bitter to this day because I am such a slow typer, I only have 7 fingers.
With my dad’s medical wisdom ringing in my ears I hopped in the GRS car and started towards the township of Lobengula. Upon arrival I could tell from the look on Alfred’s face that he was tired, tired from being in so much pain. I looked at his arm and it was quite swollen. I asked him if he could make a fist, and he couldn’t come close. I told him that I would be shocked if his wrist wasn’t broken, that he needed to sleep with his arm elevated on a pillow, and that he needed to see an actual doctor and get an X-Ray. I then asked him how much an X-Ray costs. Twenty Bucks. Even I could help with that. This obviously isn’t American Healthcare.
My forays into Zimbabwean Healthcare in the past week have only reinforced the importance of Grassroot Soccer’s mission. Dr. Malaba and Dr. Mthunzi say that the primary challenges in their day to day work is their lack of resources: drug shortages, broken X-Ray machines, and non-existent lab tests. Cows and goats frequently graze on grass outside their patient rooms because rural health centers cannot afford the necessary fencing to keep them out. The pharmacist at the OI Clinic said that drug shortages/outages are the norm despite the tens of millions of dollars worth of aid given every year from the West.
Although, Mike and I have been busy with our respective duties in the office we have had a chance to hang out at the Holiday Camps this week. GRS Holiday Camps are camps during school breaks that deliver the GRS HIV educational curriculum. At the beginning of each day about 45 minutes is devoted to HIV education. Young boys and girls are engaged. They are quiet and attentive. They listen to someone from their community, who speaks their native tongue, teach them information that could someday save their life. GRS thrives in a low resource setting because they do not need expensive equipment or university educated yuppies. GRS instead relies on the commitment of local coaches to effectively change the community, they are the backbone of Grassroot Soccer.
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