Daily Work Happenings

If you’re a little curious…

My daily life at work can vary considerably from spending all day at meetings, visiting different compounds and clinics and writing reports, to simply sitting patiently at work for a few days waiting for funding options and greeting our drop-in clients.

The Shelter

shelter 1

              I have spoken more about the shelter in the past through the fundraiser that we completed which reached our full goal that we had set of $2000!! This money was amazing to work with and we were able to make it go a long way with the shelter. Some of the assistance that we were able to provide involved:

  • building a new fence
  • planting a vegetable garden
  • buying 70 chickens to be raised and sold for profit
  • painting the play room and outside of the house (including chalk board paint to draw on)
  • fixing and setting up swing sets and a slide
  • fixing kitchen cupboards
  • buying food, toys, games, blankets, and books!

2 3 4 5

I have greatly enjoyed my time with the shelter girls, children, and house mother and was able to spend time playing games, watching movies, colouring, dancing, singing, and lots and lots of skip rope. Another aspect of being involved with the shelter has also been attending the court cases for the girls and following up with the girls having a safe home for them to go to next.


Some of my favourite meetings that I have attended have included: sitting in on workshop trainings for 6women entering into political roles and giving them the confidence, education, and skills for pursuing these positions; education of the youth about the upcoming election in August; gender committee meetings; youth sexual health educat7ion; and our most recent week long training for peer ambassadors to go out to schools and educate their fellow peers about important topics such as family planning and health education. My most favourite thing about these meetings however, is when the members don’t have a contribution or have not done any work yet, they simply say “we will communicate”- totally using this back home.


There have been a few holiday events that we have been fortunate enough to participate in. Our first one was Women’s Day where we had YWCA chitenges (material) made to match the rest of our coworkers and members in order to participate within8 a parade, and to set up an information booth at the event. I really enjoyed being able to see women come out from all of the different organizations, along with the amazing fashion show of chitenges that was present! I was also able to walk around to the other booths, learning about the other organizations within the area, while listening to some inspirational speeches from women such as the first lady.

Just 4 days later we then participated within Youth Day and collected a nice number of our youth to wear YWCA shirts and march with us to a Rugby stadium. This was a particularly hot day in my opinion9, and I may have melted a little bit during our march/run to keep up with all of the group. The freezies afterwards fixed everything though. I am impressed by how much the youth participate in any activities that they are given the opportunity to, and never fail to break out in song – even if it’s a song educating about condom use!

The most recent event that we have attended was the day of the African Child, where we were able to witness many amazing performances from children from all of the schools in the area. There were songs, dances, speeches, spoken word, and marching bands.10


One of the main daily activities that I participate in is simply sitting in on the drop-in counselling sessions that occur at our office. Many of these sessions are conducted in the local language Bemba, and I therefore, usually get my coworkers to help with the tran12slations. This is a fascinating activity as there are cases such as husbands coming in with issues of their multiple wives not getting along or not wanting to live in the same house…or stories of the advice that clients have followed by the recommendations of their church or witch doctor.

With this said however, most of the cases are very similar to what 11we would find back home. The most common cases involve marital issues and getting married too young; child support needs; and workers not getting paid.







Extra! Extra! Donations for Chitenges!

Extra! Extra! Donations for Chitenges!

Hi everyone!!

There’s so much that I would love to update everyone on and how I’ve gone on a few adventures and vacations across the country during the last few weeks as well 🙂  But first the priority in my life right now is to let you know a bit about what work looks like for me at the YWCA in Kitwe, Zambia and to tell you all about a fundraiser that we have started.

First things first…

The Shelter!!

Yes, I am asking for your money-but I will be the one spending it directly on your behalf!! Feel free to also add any requests or suggestions for what I should buy for the girls as well and I can send you a picture afterwards 🙂 I will even add in buying you some lovely colourful Zambian material called chitenge as well!

My first encounter with the shelter for young girls was when I was invited to come to the Social Welfare Office for an introduction and a tour of the facilities. I then realized upon arrival that we were also there to pick up a young girl who was recently sexually assaulted and to bring her into safe protection at our shelter. Our YWCA shelter is a safe house for young girls and children to be able to live, participate in counselling, and to be able to wait in a home where the location is unknown to the public as their court cases are processed. The shelter mother is a wonderful woman who sometimes takes care of 15 girls at one time, cooking and cleaning for all of them as she keeps track of their whereabouts.

Their home also includes property for growing corn in order to help with their food supply, as well as raising chickens to sell. Apart from the farm work there is mostly just one single swing for the children to play on and a rug outside where they sit and wait. I am impressed every time I visit with how accommodating the girls are and how happy everyone is when we meet. I often find myself forgetting about the troubles that they have experienced and simply wanting to get to know them better and to be able to play and create some activities with them. One of the girls that has been present for a few years now is around 15 years of age and has a 3-year-old son living there with her. She has taken on many of the caregiving roles as well for the other girls that come through the shelter.

The fundraiser that we have started will mostly be used to bring some ongoing activities and games to the shelter. We would really love to be able to give the girls something that they can spend their time with as they wait to go home or to go to court. I would like to bring in art supplies, board games, movies, toys, and books as some of the fun things to do. Alongside this we would use the money for any other needs such as food and bedding and any repairs that we can afford. A fun little side project that I will take on is painting and creating a play room for the girls as well.

The link to donate to the shelter is below and just let me know if there are any issues that you encounter or any chitenge requests. My email: dana.clavette@gmail.com

Link: https://fundrazr.com/ywcakitwe



Half Way There: Expectations vs. Reality

Half Way There: Expectations vs. Reality

Now that I have already reached my half way point in my internship it is probably time for a little update!

One main thing that I have noticed during my time in Zambia so far is that there has been a bit of a difference in my expectations for moving to “Africa” and13054842_10154811671316562_479728300_o the realities that I have faced. If you have heard any of Russel Peters jokes on arriving in India with the culture shock, smells, and the intensity that everything hits you, everything there is pretty similar to how it was described. Zambia however, surprised me in many ways. While I was looking down onthe landscape about to land in Lusaka, expecting to see dry land and a hectic city with busy roads for being the most populated city in country, I instead only saw lush greenery and a place that looked more like a large town with quiet roads. Exploring the city, I was far from the crazy traffic, smells, and market experiences that I had come to know and expect so well in places like India. I was instead greeted by orderly traffic, (though driving on the left side of the road), no street food smells filling the air, and a simple “no thank you” sto
pped the marketers from continuing their pursuit of your sale. While being shown around I then became accustomed to finding many malls, a few large movie theaters with 3D films, and access to almost any kind of restaurant that you can think of. This city was actually not incredibly different from home.

My next destination was then Kitwe in the Copperbelt, a city which would be my home for the next 6 months. My first surprise upon landing was the Ndola airport. The airport is more of an archway that you simply walk through after picking your luggage up from the cart unloading the plane directly beside you. We could almost see our rides waiting to pick us up simply by stepping off our flight. Our ride into Kitwe was a quiet and smooth one with a little bit of rain making us feel welcome arriving from the West Coast of Canada. Though upon hitting Kitwe, and especially the roads leading into our home, the roads met my expectations with potholes and make shift driving routes, feeling that familiar bumpy ride that I have gotten to know so well in past travels.


We have now had the opportunity to explore the Copperbelt region of Zambia for the past 3 months, and to my personal surprise have visited more malls and delicious restaurants than I ever would have imagined. The malls have everything that we would find back home, topped off with delicious Italian ice-cream and coffee. The restaurants range from our nshima tasting in little rooms in the back streets, huts with buffets and Grease Musical performances, to patios with Indian food as good as in India itself. However, with all of these malls and grocery stores available to us, the most delicious fruits and veggies are still the ones that we can find being sold by the locals in the markets, at the side of the street, and in front of the grocery stores themselves, with the best part being the giant avocados that we can get!


A Relationship with Zambia

A Relationship with Zambia

Something that I noticed with myself this time around for traveling is that I see every new country and travel adventure that I do like a bit of a love story.

I tend to make a decision that I am ready once again for this new all encompassing relationship, this commitment to myself to let myself grow and experience a new love, as well as the time needed to devote myself to this new relationship. I then recognize in myself that I wait.

I wait for the excitement and anticipation to build as I pack and board the plane (or 5 in this case). I wait for the first feeling that I get when I land. I wait for the new sounds, smells, tastes and feelings that I know will come. I wait for the slow learning period of my surroundings as I begin to learn my way around and navigate as if I am starting from the beginning again (so..how do I simply say hello…?). I wait to notice the similarities and differences from my own day to day life while avoiding the instinct to compare the two; knowing that each relationship stands on its own, this new country will have its own ways from my own and the previous ones that I have visited. I wait for my hesitation in my decision, the fear that I might not have made the right choice and any uncertainty that I know should and will pass if I only wait. I then wait for that feeling that almost always comes when you really get to know a new place. You begin to slowly learn its ways, culture, people and then sometimes without realizing it you find that you have fallen in love. So now I wait.

There will be more to come and I can’t say that I know what will develop and how I will feel about myself and my career decisions by the end of this journey, this relationship that I am entering into, but I do know that I am ready and excited to see what will develop in this new chapter of my life.

The Beginning of a Journey 

I have come to graciously accept an offer for an internship in Kitwe, Zambia with the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), and three weeks after leaving my own home the time has come to begin writing about my new experiences.


This internship was presented through an organization called Victoria International Development Education Association (VIDEA), and is linked with the Government of Canada’s International Youth Internship Program (IYIP). I would highly recommend this program to anyone and to please take a look for yourself at what other opportunities are available! While I am here I have been assigned to fulfill the position as the Crisis Support Worker through the YWCA’s Drop in Centre and Crisis Support Centre. Though this is my initial label, I can already begin to see that I will be getting a lot more experience than I would have imagined.

I am now living in Kitwe, which is located in the north west region of the country referred to as the Copperbelt, surrounding us with a city of mines and miners, with a little bit of copper looking water from our taps thrown in there. Kitwe is the second largest city within Zambia, though you might not guess that from the laid back atmosphere. I am here with a second intern who I live with, work alongside, and pretty much currently do everything with as we begin navigating our way around our new temporary home. 

I am just getting started with exploring everything, and will write again soon about many of my expectations already being shattered. Until then, time to go learn some of the local language (Bemba) so that I can actually communicate with my clients…or at least just impress my coworkers 😉