Filming Trip 2012: The Village

From Aly:

Being a native of the Emerald City I thought I had seen the greenest greens… until I got to Zambia. Never have I ever seen a more lush, vibrant green landscape. Every time I look out the window on our drives to the school or the family village, I am in awe of the scenery. It looks like something out of a national geographic magazine – another world that must have been dreamed up.

 We have been here four days now and they have been jam packed with beauty, adventure, laughter and heartache. In our four days we have spent a lot of time at the Masala Family village farm. The Masala Family is the reason that Dwankhozi Hope can do what they do. Their family consists of 10 siblings who were all educated at a university level, some with their masters and PhD’s. This fact became so much more incredible when we spent time in the village similar to where they grew up and where most children don’t make it past 9th grade. The challenges of village life are many. Famine, disease and lack of funds to send children to school make it incredibly hard for them to aspire to a life beyond the village. The Masalas have overcome these challenges and with hard work, dedication and incredibly inspiring parents they were able to do the unthinkable. They now serve as a beacon of hope to their community as they work tirelessly with the Dwankhozi School to encourage children to set their sites higher – for a better life for themselves and their families.

 Moses Masala (Uncle Mo) is the Project Director for Dwankhozi Hope in Zambia and one of the 10 siblings I talked about above. He has been our fixer – driving us everywhere and setting everything up for us. He is the sweetest most thoughtful man… and SO incredible smart. I don’t think we have stopped laughing since we arrived. He knows EVERYONE, being a caretaker to the entire village and town we are constantly making abrupt stops along our drives where Uncle Mo hops out of the car to see someone or take care of something.


Bertha Masala (Wa Bertha) is another of the 10 siblings – she is one of the most “bad-ass” chicks I have ever met in my life. Not only does she tell it how it is, but she has no reservation in dishing it out to anyone! She is also hilarious and has a remarkable gift of making you feel so at home and like you can be 100% yourself. We are heading to Lusaka later in the week (where she lives) where she will be taking me to her aerobics class. She says she loves it because she “can wear her short shorts and be very free”. She says Kirk is not allowed to join. This can be added to my list of things I never thought I would do in Africa.


Though the rainy season is one of the most beautiful times in Zambia it is also the hardest for the people here. It is known as the hunger season as the village farmers wait for their crops to grow. As we have learned most children arrive at school having had no breakfast and with no lunch in hand – surviving on one meal a day and mangos when they can find them. The rainy season also brings mosquitoes and more malaria than ever. It was shocking to see how casually people talk about the children at the school with malaria or how many times they have had it themselves.


When we slept at the farm we saw all of these things and it was hard to digest but we also felt the joy and sense of community that you would never see in the US. Sandwiched between Big Mama and Bertha – wearing her “snuggle up” t-shirt – Kate and I in the middle, we all giggled ourselves to sleep under our giant mosquito net. It’s so hard to put into words all the hilarious and surreal details from the farm.  It was definitely an out of body experience but one we will never forget.


  1. Thanks for the great update Aly…beautifully written and makes me feel like I was there too. I want to hang out with Bertha. Love the pic of you getting the medicine for your ‘stomach fire’! Love the pics of the beautiful faces of those children. Love you!

  2. All the pictures and blogs take me with you to a place I’ll never see but now I can through your eyes and your camera.
    It’s a wonderful thing you all are doing and a fabulous experience for all. Can’t wait to see the videos! Thanks so much for sharing. These images will last your lifetime. Stay safe and Love to you

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