Driving to the airport you kind of get in the mood.  The music vibe changes and the volume goes up.  Every song is a reminder of the distinctive nature of the African rhythm. Somewhere in the playlist is “the one song” that any traveller who has ever experienced this mighty continent, knows – “Africa” by Toto…”It’s gonna take a lot to take me away from you. There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do…I bless the rains down in Africa…”  I don’t expect we will see much of those rains but It feels so good to be heading back.

The other “Erica Joy” (my namesake; being the older one I can claim that) and I made the journey together. Erica is  returning home to visit  family, especially her Mum and Dad.  For me it is a visit to catch up on the work of CiCA and with that the privilege of being with the Chiwawa family again.

Sean and Michelle Chiwawa head up the work of CiCA in Zimbabwe.  CiCA was born out of relationship and we have maintained that as one of our core values.  We have known and loved Sean and Michelle for many years and they are the reason we felt it was possible to think about expanding the work of CiCA into Zimbabwe.

The Chiwawa children have grown.  I know that is what children are supposed to do, so I’m not really sure why it came as such a surprise. It’s been four and a half years since I was last here and there has been an addition to the family.  Siobhan has never met me, and for a while was convinced that my name was Aunty America.

It’s been great fun so far.  We have had strategy meetings and CiCA updates all done whilst sorting tricky bits on Lego constructions, or playing Dobble (which is a real hit). Yesterday we discussed vision during a drive out to get ice cream.  It is all beautifully bonkers and I love it.

I have been mulling over a lot of things while we have been here. One thing in particular is how each area we work in, be it Zambia, Zimbabwe or Kenya is so incredibly distinctive. The challenge for CiCA is not to simply create a template and apply it to all the work we do, creating a recurring pattern that takes no account of the unique nature of each situation, each location. I constantly feel challenged to think carefully and to be intentional about developing our growing partnerships with those heading up the work. Our common values are shared, but we each come with strengths, creativity, ideas and knowledge, and when we combine these and all our other resources it’s just incredible all that is possible.  I love that we dig wells in Kenya, but not anywhere else. I love that we are making plans for our first clothes bank in Zimbabwe in the near future but it doesn’t feature in Zambia. I love that Zambia has our first “Travellers Rest” (assisted living for the elderly) but we don’t have any plans to replicate that elsewhere – and I absolutely love how the “Freedom Project” is growing across the board.

Tomorrow we will visit five of our CiCA children. I’m very excited about that. Erica and her Mum and Dad are joining us for part of the day. There will be plenty to chat with them about, and it will be a privilege to listen and learn from their vast experience. Then it will be a trip to the craft market to stock up the CiCA shop before heading home for more “Dobble”.