I am back! A lot earlier than I expected and wanted, I needed to return back to Germany because of the current situation. I miss Zambia like crazy, I completely fell in love with that place, but for now I returned.
How did all of this happen?
Needless to say, I knew about the pandemic and the situation in Europe. But since Corona wasn’t a big thing at all in Zambia, I didn’t really follow the news in depth. There were no cases in Zambia around that time and my life had a completely different focus.
Things got more and more serious in the middle of march. Before it was something which was happening far away at home. But then two cases were recorded in Zambia as well.
I needed to see a doctor and talked to one of the nurses there (somehow I always talk to anybody I meet when I am in Zambia lol). She told me that her daughters school was closing in a few days. That was the first time I was hearing about something similar to the lockdown people were experiencing in Europe at that time. So apparently all the schools needed to be closed, including the school I was working at.
I also heard from a lot of friends from home that they needed to return to Germany. Either the German embassies told them to do so or the German government chartered planes to get them back to Germany. The reason behind that was, that less and less planes were flying back to Europe, so if anybody wanted to get to Europe anytime soon, they needed to go.
So with all this information in mind I knew, that I didn’t have much time left. I also called the German embassy in Zambia and asked them for information. They only told me I can return if I feel like it is necessary, but there is no official announcement from the German government. Therefore I didn’t panic or thought that I would need to go rapidly.
All of this happened in one day, Tuesday the 17th of March. The next day I asked my organization in Norway about what is happening, what I should do, what they would advise. They said they would come back to me.
The thing is that over all this time I never felt like leaving. I didn’t want to go into a lockdown, when in my current situation I was able to step out of the house and be in the middle of nature.
I started to tell people that I will need to leave and everybody I was talking to encouraged me to stay. Even the people on the market, at work and even the girl in the Airtel shop tried to convince me that Zambia is a safer place. The girl in the Airtel shop even showed me a five minute video of how the virus is spreading in Europe. And explained for a long time why Africa is safer for me than Europe. And I knew this girl for five minutes (aka my daily life in Zambia lol, I always talk to everyone I meet and they end up being my new best buddies). When even her wanted me to stay, then I really should just stay right?!
I didn’t want to leave but deep down inside of me, I knew that I need to. That this is the goodbye now. Because IF the situation would get way worse, nothing would be the same. And IF me or even somebody at home would be danger because of Corona I would want to be in Germany. So it was a safety thing. But I still didn’t like it.
Norway called me back. They said because of the situation I need to go back to Germany as soon as possible. I knew that and agreed. Then I was told they would start to look for a flight for THE NEXT DAY?!
I was so confused, I hadn’t packed anything, I had to leave our projects in safe hands and go to the airport (which is quite far away) in 24 hours? No way.
So I asked if I can get a flight on Saturday. That would mean I leave on Friday and have around one and a half day to prepare myself. Since the school was also closing on Friday, it felt better to leave with all the other students. We agreed on that and I started to look into flights.
The next day was really hectic. I started to pack, to deep clean the whole house I was staying in, to say goodbye to people. I took last pictures to remember the place, I told people at home that I am leaving Zambia and coming back. I tried to find ways to finish our projects, without us being there anymore – all in all it was a stressful mess.
But at some point I got some relief: the school confirmed, that since they need to book a lot of tickets for other volunteers as well, the will only be able to book me a flight for Monday in the next few days. The plan was that I would leave Sunday morning to Ndola, stay here for a day and then fly back home early in the morning on Monday.
In one of these very hectic moments, the headmaster of my school in Norway called me. She caught me in a situation, where I genuinely didn’t want to leave the place, where I was starting to miss Zambia a lot and were I was just sad to leave all the amazing people I had met. My headmaster noticed that I sounded low and asked me what was wrong. I explained my feelings to her and she said: “Maybe it doesn’t need to be a ‘Goodbye’, but a ‘See you later’ “
And this helped me a lot. I realized, that I don’t necessarily need to stay in Germany or in Europe for a long time. I can return to Africa when the time of the crisis is over.
I will get a chance to really say goodbye properly. Or I don’t even need to say goodbye. I fell in love with the whole country and I can save money and I can return again and again.
This is the first part of the story, about how all of this even started. I will keep you updated with more stories of how I came back to Germany.
Goodbye… – See you soon, for now 🙂