Also available in: Nederlands
Another interview from Zambia. This time Elske de Bruin who moved to Zambia with her husband and child. It’s so much fun to read another story about Zambia after Marcel’s story a few weeks ago.
Who are you and why did you move to Zambia?
My name is Elske de Bruin, born and raised in Friesland, the Netherlands. Later on, I moved to Belgium for love. After living in Belgium for ten years, we were given the opportunity to move to Zambia for Marc’s work. We were in doubt at first, did we really want to go there with a one-year-old?! So happy that we decided to go, we are living here for a full year already.
What was it in Zambia that appealed to you?
We didn’t have anything to say about the location; the choice was to do the project in Zambia or stay in Belgium. I am very happy that it was Zambia, we wanted to go to Africa for a long time already. Zambia has the right mix of the real, not touristy Africa and also the convenience of supermarkets and other shops. You don’t have to miss a thing here.
What kind of work did you do in Belgium and what are you doing now?
I worked as a travel agent, a fantastic job for someone who loves to travel! The moment we left I still had maternity leave and worked four days a week. Once in Zambia, I became a full-time mom, a big adjustment!! But we did find our way quick enough, and Andres has the perfect age for me to be home so much; first words, steps… I got to experience it all!
Now Andres is in kindergarten three mornings in the week, on those mornings I am busy with volunteer work. That gives me the feeling that besides “mothering.” I make myself useful in our time here in Zambia.
What is the most beautiful thing you experienced?
Without a doubt quality time with family and friends; we went on safari, visited Victoria Falls and enjoy the climate very much. Also the people and the good life.
Did you have any challenging experiences?
Because of my volunteer work, I visit the compounds (slums) on a regular basis; the poverty can be confronting at times. The first few months of our stay I thought that poverty wasn’t so bad around here, mainly because you just don’t see it until you enter the compounds. If you don’t want to see it, well you don’t have to. However, Apters, the organization I volunteer for, produces tools for children with a handicap. Many parents and their kids live in the compounds and have very little. We ensure that there is money to get those kids a wheelchair, walker or something like that. When the parents don’t have the money for transport, I will bring it personally to their homes. The things you see then….. You always get a beautiful smile. Respect!
What do you miss from the Netherlands and what absolutely not?
Mainly family and friends. Here in the capital, you can get almost everything (except a HEMA, Dutch warehouse! I want a HEMA here!). We can’t complain! I do tell family and friends that come to visit to bring us Dutch cheese, still the best. When we celebrated kings day the other day over here, I was pleasantly surprised when they served frikandellen and bitterballen (typical Dutch fried food). A good snack bar would do good business here I think.
The thing I don’t miss is the hectic life. It does help I don’t work over here, the entire way of life is different here much more relaxing. Back home you always had to do things, always the pressure of time. They don’t seem to know this here, that’s so nice. It can be annoying at times because I am always on time and the people in Zambia don’t have a problem with letting you wait for an hour.
What is the biggest difference between the Dutch and the Zambians?
In the Netherlands, people that almost have everything can still be unhappy; In Zambia, people have almost nothing, and they still can be happy. That’s the main difference I think. People smile, dance and greet each other in the street and that is the thing that makes life better.
In what city do you live and what makes this place special? What are the things to see?
We live in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. The city itself isn’t that special; not really a city center, lots of shopping malls though. You see lots of asphalt and concrete, behind the walls you will find many shops, bars, and restaurants with beautiful green gardens. Also, the city has many trees that color the city green or when here in the right season red or purple. Just outside the city you’ll find Lusaka Forest; great for a nice walk and/or picknick. Not to forget Lusaka National Park, you can do game drives (safari’s) here. You can see Giraffes, wildebeests, zebras and many deer-like animals. The two rhinos are guarded 24 hours a day and are kept in a closed environment during the busiest times in the park.
What places should you have visited when in Zambia?
Victoria Falls and the National Parks you have to visit of course when in Zambia. There are also beautiful initiatives to experience the life of a average Zambian; like with In and out of the ghetto you can get a tour in the Bauleni compound and that way you support the people living there. Or buy amazing handcrafted things made out of plastic bags at Chikumbuso. Perfect for the environment (the plastic would have ended up in the streets otherwise) You support Aids widows and -orphans, and you will get to see how things are done at the school of the orphans.
What is the most beautiful or special place for you in Zambia?
Without a doubt one of the National Parks! You never get used to the safari’s; always impressive to stand eye to eye with an Elefant, Hippo or Lion. Nature is overwhelmingly beautiful and pure. I enjoyed Kafue National Park most until now, a complete picture; We found a spot with fantastic views over Kafue River. Hippo’s floating by now and then. We joined amazing safari’s and saw so much wildlife. Our lodge had a wonderful kitchen and a beautiful pool. And more importantly the company of the people I love. Pure happiness!
What advice can you give people traveling to Zambia?
Zambia isn’t a cheap country to visit, but if you are willing to look around or like to camp, you can lower the price easily. If you prepare well (travel books, shots, etc.) and use your common sense, you will come a long way. Especially in Lusaka, you need to be aware of pickpockets, well these days you need to be aware of that everywhere in the world.
Do you think you will ever go back to the Netherlands?
Certainly, in our case, it will probably be Belgium. The project Marc is working on is supposed to take two years, halfway now. Time passes too fast, don’t want to think about returning just yet! However one day the work will be finished, and we have to leave Zambia then…..
Thank you, Elske for sharing your fantastic story with us. Amazing to get a peek into your life in Zambia. And so kind of you to volunteer over there.
Want to read more about Zambia?
He left the Netherlands for a new adventure in Zambia Or rather travel to New Zealand of Iceland?
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