A Visitor From Zambia

Although some supporters were fascinated to meet Willard Chilimbo on his recent visit here- November 2001 - very few people realised the behind-the-scenes dramas that nearly prevented his trip.

While here, he spoke very interestingly to a meeting of the Newport URC, and later in London went on the London Eye, the big ferris-wheel tourist attraction. Certain things we take for granted were fascinating to him. He was also taken to a Chinese restaurant, which aren’t a regular part of the Zambian bush, and was intrigued by the tide movement of the Bristol Channel but, of course, he had never seen the sea! Zambia ia a land-locked country.

The Zambian tendency to go for long walks led to one scare for the director. Thinking nothing of it, Willard casually went out for a seven-mile stroll one afternoon -- to a British eye, his absence almost made his host call the police.

"I was thrilled that so many people turned up at Newport to meet him," said Ron Prosser. "It showed people here that what we’re doing is not a myth -- we’re helping actual people."

"Willard himself takes back a broadened experience to share with his community, and as a result, they will come to understand more about us."

However, bringing him here was a headache, as Ron explained. "He had been trying for three months to get a ticket, but the agent kept telling him that the flight was full, and that he had a reserve ticket. They eventually offered him an ‘emergency ticket’ for £2,000, and I said I wasn’t paying that! Nor did he have a visa until our High Commission gave him one the day before the flight. And he still didn’t have a ticket when we arrived at the airport, so I did what I hate to do – I played the white man, and made a fuss. I told them that he was speaking at a very important meeting in Britain, and that they had to get him on that plane. I hate to do it, but it worked -- they went and wrote him a ticket!"

Willard however, no longer works for HHI(Z). He has moved on to pastures new.