bulletin board
events calendar
business directory

best friend
news briefs



Mixed Emotions
Jerry Merz approaches coming home

comment on this story >>

Julius, Sarah, and “the Muzungu”.

Hours in a day seem to accelerate as the time to depart Zambia gets closer. For the past four months, I have been getting more and more excited to return home. I do miss my friends and family. I long for the beautiful surroundings of the Methow Valley. I long for clean water without crocodiles or bilharzia in it. I want a shower (have been bathing out of a bucket for the past two years). I will appreciate quality products, which just aren't available here. And oh, to drink water out of a tap. Cool, clean, unfiltered, unboiled water. I am tired of litter . . . everywhere!!!!!!

I miss . . . dependable cars. Kitchen utensils that aren't broken. Stop signs that get replaced when they get taken out (or stolen). Being able to go for a walk at night. Not living behind compound walls. Not needing a guard to keep me safe at night. Four seasons. Being around productive people with varied interests. My quiet, peaceful neighborhood. Streets without huge potholes. Being able to understand conversations around me. Cultural events, art, sports. The NFL playoffs. My cat (although he got eaten by a cougar a couple of weeks before I left for here). Having access to my bank account. Sea kayaking. Skiing. Flyfishing. Mountain biking. My African drumming group. Travel without having to worry about malaria. The drive up the Twisp River. The Twisp Saturday Market.

Oh, I'll stop there.

Jerry and his co-workers will be moving into the new shop soon.

But, as I get closer to leaving, I realize that a number of things have crept in to my heart around here as well. I haven't had the opportunity to work with a group of colleagues in over 30 years. I will miss saying good morning to them as I walk through the village every day. And the overall energy of this village. It's a school, a living area, a metal shop, an administration building, a wood shop . . . I have grown accustomed to having all of this in my life.

The metal shop was not even a thought before I arrived. It is going to be difficult not being "The Big Cheese" and turning it over in a more thorough way. I'm going to really miss the guys in the shop. I know that I have said it before, but they have been a very meaningful part of my life . . . one of the most important connections that I have been able to experience in my life. They work hard, they don't complain, they show up on time, when they work late - they never even mention it. They are making enough money to where they asked me if I would help them open up a bank account (as opposed to asking for a loan, as it used to be). It fills me up to have helped them get to this point.

And Grace. The Pestalozzi alumni woman that will be running the metal shop when I leave. She is a very special young woman. Both of her parents "passed" a long time ago. She is fun, funny and bright. I have tried to share what little I know about running a small business and the day is coming soon where the past six months will be put to a test. I am well aware that I won't ever be her father, but at times, our relationship seems to border on that type of a interaction. I can only hope that we will be in contact for a long time to come.

The soccer team in Jerry Merz’s Zambian neighborhood.

And the kids. This evening, I was set to go home and saw the young boys that just came to the village, down playing soccer at the field. I brought the camera down thereand took photos. They are just precious kids. I have been so lucky to be surrounded by such energy for the past couple of years. And I will really miss it.

When you can't go home . . . it seems that the pull becomes greater and greater to do so. But when the time comes that you CAN go home, I am finding that other aspects gain more importance than I may have realized.

Oh, and here is the latest on the shop . . . we will be moving in soon. We just got a grant from a group called "Friends of Africa", that will help us finish it out with work benches, work tables, a forge and other finishing touches. Thanks FoA!
I have decided to stay a little longer, until the middle of March, as there is just too much going at present.

This piece was taken from Jerry Merz’s Zambian blogspot. A Methow Valley resident, Jerry is nearing the end of a two-year volunteer experience in Zambia, Africa for VSO, an international development charity operating in 90 countries with 40,000 volunteers focusing on education, HIV aids and the disabled.

Merz was born and raised in Washington State. He earned degrees in business administration and accounting and worked for Boeing, and as a sales representative in the outdoor industry, which eventually led to metalwork and a life in the art world.


read past postings in the archive >>


Have a comment?