Newsletter 4, Week 3, November 19, 2017: These are personal views and do not reflect those of the U.S. Government.
Follow USAID Zambia on Social
So if you really want the regular scoop on some of our activities, events, and partner work, you should follow us online: USAID Zambia Facebook and USAID Zambia Twitter. So, go on then, please like and follow our pages!
This is my boss. He knows I’ve referred to him as lively. Well, because he is. He’s pretty cool too and I really enjoy working side by side with him. Chando is Zambian-American and is the Senior Development Outreach Communications Officer.
On Monday, November 13, many of the USAID staff were issued brand new iPhone 7 Plus phones so I was playing around with it at work. I was one of the first because my job requires me to produce high quality content. At first, I hated it. It’s HUGE. But, then I fell in love with its photo and video qualities…and I’m ashamed/proud to admit, I’m a communications tech geek.
USAID in My Google Alerts
There’s a lot of things I can’t share, but I can share news stories about USAID’s successes that relate to what I see and learn about how the agency works. This is a really awesome story about USAID in FedScoop.
About That Coup in Zimbabwe…
No, I reiterate, I’m not in Zimbabwe, but Zimbabwe was in the news this past week and not for good reason. This is also a good time to reassure you that Zambia is pretty much the Switzerland of Africa. I basically picked the best post for my first experience living permanently abroad and in Africa. Or rather, I still feel like Zambia picked me…and I am answering the call, no matter how hard or lonely it can get.
Thank you again blessings, irony, luck, and RESULTS. But, back to Zimbabwe. Headlines from last Wednesday’s CNN and my New York TimesDaily Briefings, respectfully:
Is Robert Mugabe in control in Zimbabwe, or has the 93-year-old President been overthrown in a military coup? Soldiers are patrolling the streets; a military spokesman said Mugabe and his family are “safe.” Still, Mugabe’s exact whereabouts remain unknown to the public. Tensions in the country have been high ever since Mugabe dismissed his vice president, in a move seen by many as a way for Mugabe to appoint his wife to the position. That would put her in the driver’s seat to succeed him as the country’s leader.
Apparent coup in Zimbabwe.
- The military of the southern African nation has taken custody of President Robert Mugabe. Here’s what we know and don’t know.
- Mr. Mugabe, 93, is the only leader Zimbabwe has known since independence in 1980.
- He dismissed Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week, a move widely seen as a way to elevate his wife, Grace Mugabe.
So the Z countries made the news again. I believe very strongly that we need to protect our wildlife, specially precious creatures like the elephants. It’s an uproar right now and Trump is apparently already reversed his standing on it. I can speak with truth to say the inconsistency of policy coming out of the United States has many abroad quite confused and the perception of our great nation has shifted. Here’s the story I received in my CNN Daily Briefing though:
The Trump administration will soon allow the importation of African elephant trophies, and some folks are ticked off about it. The decision means Americans will be able to hunt elephants in Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Fish and Wildlife service said the move will help the two countries’ management plans for the elephants and generate some revenue. But animal rights groups are outraged and note that restrictions against this sort of thing were made in 2014 because of big drops in the African elephant population.
- From NPR: U.S. Lifts Ban on Importing Elephant Trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia
- Official CNN Story: U.S. to Allow Imports of Elephant Trophies From Zimbabwe, Zambia
AmCham 2017 Thanksgiving Dinner
On Friday, November 17, I went out to a fancy party by myself. (Don’t tell on me for breaking curfew…) The American Chamber of Commerce in Zambia hosts an annual Thanksgiving dinner. I learned that the AmCham is here to create business linkage, shining a light on issues to support business development and looking for equitable solutions.
It was a lovely dinner full of delicious traditional American Thanksgiving food items! I was the only American seated at a table with a bunch of fun Africans and for once, I felt useful during trivia since I could answer most of the American side of the American/Zambia trivia game. My Thanksgiving entertainment was probably better than yours. Watch the video, on YouTube, I recorded of the AGCO Choir Performance. (1:16)
And, I bet you can’t dance like these guys… (3 second video clip)
Shifted* to a Long-Term Flat**
I finally got my own and it’s only a 10 minute walk to the Embassy! How nice to look from the terrace through the beautiful greenery on the trees to see the American flag waving in the wind. It’s very surreal to work in such a modern building, for the American government, in a developing country.
You can see photos of the New Zambian Flat in pictures on my Google drive. Keep in mind, these are from a week ago, before I shifted and got settled so it wasn’t finalized yet. I’ll share photos of it fully decorated and set up later.
Hours after I moved in Saturday (11/18) morning, the utility company decided to cut off (was it blackout time or unintentional?) the power so I was without power, internet, or any water for a few hours. It was so irritating because I was literally in the middle of washing my hands when the power was cut off. When you start your life over, you learn to be a lot more patient. It’s relaxing in a different way. Perfect time to go to the Commissary and Levy Mall to buy groceries and bedding…
I miss NY pizza and eastern NC bbq so it was a huge relief to finally get access to the Commissary and see some familiar store items. The stock is depleted due to a delay in arrival of the shipping unit due to the hurricanes. While others were walking around the Commissary complaining, I was rejoicing to find Canada Dry ginger ale and Pepperidge Farm goldfish crackers. It’s truly the little things in life that get me excited.
Last night, was my first night in the new flat. It was the best shower I’d had in a whole month with consistent water pressure and hot water. My Gawd! Hot water, internet, electricity, and RUNNING water are definitely things we take for granted in the U.S.
*Moved in British speak
U.S. Tax Update
I know, you’re thinking, “c’mon Lindsay, we’re not reading your ‘life abroad’ updates for more U.S. political tax updates,” but please humor me. I’m still an American concerned about the policies passed at home, which will affect hard-working Americans, and am pleased to stay in touch with my RESULTS colleagues and monitor things as they develop. From Jos:
As you know, Congress is working to pass a really bad tax bill in the next few weeks. The House passed their version November 16 by a vote of 227-205. Now all eyes turn to the Senate, which passed their bill out of the Senate Finance Committee last night on a party-line vote. With Congress on recess next week, the full Senate is planning to vote on their plan the week of November 30.
Both the House and Senate bills are giant tax giveaways to wealthy Americans and big corporations, adding around $1.5 trillion to the federal debt. The lost revenue and increased debt will put anti-poverty programs such as SNAP and Medicaid at risk of deep cuts. In both bills, the top 1 percent are the primary beneficiaries of these plans, with half of the benefits going to them by 2027. In addition, provisions that could help working families are expanded but expanded so that wealthier families can now get them. The Child Tax Credit (CTC) is increased (from $1000/child to $1,600 in House; from $1,000/child to $2,000 in the Senate) but low-income families will see little or none of this increase. For example, in the Senate bill, a couple with two children making $500,000 would get $4,000 from the CTC (they currently get nothing) but a single mom with two kids earning working full-time at the minimum wage would get an extra $75. Finally, the Senate bill would require that any child getting the CTC have a Social Security Number; currently their families need only an Individual Tax ID Number. As a result, around 1 million immigrant children in the U.S. will lose the CTC (you can learn more about this from Tuesday’s webinar guest speaker Rafael Collazo of UnidosUS). For more information about the Senate’s CTC provision, see this excellent overview.
- Take the November Action. Write letters to your members of Congress (start with senators) expressing your objection these bills. Remember, these bills cannot be fixed.
- Call Senate tax aides. Call the tax aides for your senators to talk to them about your concerns in their bill (tax cuts for wealthy, puts anti-poverty programs at risk, leaves out low-income families). Use the November Action and “tax cut quiz” on Tuesday’s webinar for talking points. You can also find state-by-state numbers for the Senate CTC expansion here.
Support the Global Partnership for Education
We all know how important education is to having a bright future. The world we live in requires reading, math, and the ability to think critically in order to succeed. Yet 263 million children around the globe who should be in grade school, middle school, or high school are not. Many others receive schooling but don’t have basic reading skills after because of poor quality.
The number of children and youth being denied education is shocking, but these numbers represent an improvement. The support the US government provides to developing nations directly, and our contributions to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) are moving education in the right direction, putting more kids in school, improving quality, increasing gender parity, and providing education to kids in conflict zones.
Our members of Congress can build on these efforts by ensuring that the US continues to play a leadership role on global education. They can signal their support by cosponsoring House Resolution 466 on the Global Partnership for Education. Ask them to cosponsor.
Marine Corps Ball
On Saturday, November 11, my friends and I went to the Marine Corps Ball. They each had locally designed/made dresses and I wore one of the two nice dresses I brought with me. The Ball commemorated the 242nd Anniversary of the Marines and was also the Ambassador’s last official Embassy function. The Ambassador is the gentleman in the left in the top right photo of the four.
During the ceremony, I got a bit emotional. It was an overwhelming honor to be at my first international post, with service members who guard the Embassy everyday. It also reminded me of my Grandfather’s funeral in January and the honors he received. How I wished I could call and tell him about it. I was seated two seats away from the USAID Executive Officer. He asked me if I came from a military family and I mentioned my Grandfather.