The Golden Pillow Lodge in Monze, Southern Zambia hasn't seen many visitors clutching Christie's catalogues. Yet the reason for me being here in 41 degree heat was to help publicise the Decanter Wine into Water auction taking place this month. The catalogue was my talisman.
Until now my knowledge of where the money we raised had relied on newsletters and brochures. Today, I was to discover in person. We set off on unmade roads towards the village of Chamva which has no access to clean water.
Standing around in a group were the women for fetching water is women’s work. To describe the muddy shallow hollow I saw as a well is a misnomer. Each woman waited patiently to pan a little grey sludge and wait it was as they had to allow the water table to rise. One of the women explained they had to make many trips, even coming out in the early hours of the morning when the queue was less.
The matriarch of the village was a statuesque woman named Fenny Bangi. I sat with her as she explained how sickness is rife. Diarrhea isn’t a topic most people want to talk about yet it kills more children than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.
The lack of clean water at Chamva Fenny explained meant that the children were ill and missed school. When they washed their clothes they were always dirty. I asked her how her family was, she looked down and said: “My two grandsons died this June, they were only six and seven year’s old”. She turned away; “It’s the water, you know”.
We left the village of Chamva and headed over to Muyangali where WaterAid had worked with a local partner to introduce a bore holes. The difference with Chamva was marked. The bore holes had been built last year and one of the elder villagers, Ellen Malambo, showed me with great pride one of its benefits, the vegetable garden where onions, rape, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and seed thrived.
We started on February 22nd.
Ellen explained that by selling the produce they had been able to buy school books and even Vaseline for themselves.
Moice Moonga, head of the water committee added: “I nearly had enough for a cow but decided to buy books for my children and shoes for my wife”.
Since clean water had been brought to the village sickness had decreased and children weren’t missing school. There was an air of palpable pride in the community.
I returned to the Golden Oullow Lodge to look at the estimates for the auction. If all the Red Bordeaux goes for its estimate that should be enough to build a new water bore for Chamva.
Let’s hope so for Fenny.
Christie’s Fine and Rare Wine Auction will be held on October 18 at
their sale location at 8 King Street, St. James’s, London. More
information and bidding assistance is available from Chris Munro at CMunro@christies.com +44 (0)20 7752 3140.
Written by Sarah Kemp