Frequently Asked Questions
Where do you live?
The epicenter of Choshen Farm is remotely located on the farm, while our home and personal ministry is located in the middle of Fimpulu Center, surrounded by all the other residents of the village.
Over the years, we have upgraded our home to make it more sustainable for our growing family, transitioning out of our traditional hut and into a larger house with a tin roof. We run off of solar power and now have access to running water, after creating a solar-pumped water system for the entire community.
For volunteers and visitors of Choshen, we try to immerse newcomers into a more representative experience, reminiscent of our first eight years and closer to how our neighbors live on a daily basis. Those who come to stay at the farm should expect no electricity or running water. Also, strengthen those quads as you’ll be using a long-drop toilet!
What do you eat?
The Zambian diet consists of the staple food, nshima – a white corn-based mash that is eaten with your hands – and a relish, which is a side dish usually consisting of a green vegetable and a protein (beef, chicken, or fish).
While the Colvin kids would be happy eating nshima all day every day, (this will be their comfort food, always) our family is also is able to incorporate some American variety, including rice, pasta, potatoes and varied spices. Though we try to eat local as much as possible, we do have access to a small grocery store 20 miles away and take advantage of that provision regularly.
What do you wear?
We dress as Zambian as our neighbors, which for Jeremy means a fairly western attire of work trousers and t-shirts, or dress slacks with jackets and ties. Bethany is fortunate to enjoy the beautiful Zambian fashion of chitenge material, which is wrapped around the waist as a skirt. There are few regulations other than keeping ones knees covered, especially for women.
How many people live in the village?
It is easiest to describe the population here in terms of concentric circles. Our sub-village, "Center," where our house is, consists of roughly 60 families who we see on a daily basis. Center is a part of Fimpulu, which has a population of around 5,000 people, with whom we interact regularly and who benefit most directly from our Fimpulu-based programs. These are the people we are referring to when we talk about "our neighbors."
Fimpulu is also a part of a clinic-focused catchment area that extends 20 kilometers in radius and contains around 10,000 people. This is the population we target for our outreach programs and whose residents are engaged through our Home Based Care programs.
Fimpulu is one of the village regions in Mansa’s south district, which has a population of roughly 200,000 people. Outside of Fimpulu, we work mostly with the pastors in Mansa town and their congregants. Fimpulu is 25 kilometers from Mansa town, to which we travel a few times a week for meetings, building supplies, and taking people to the hospital.
What kinds of things do you typically see?
Taking in the visuals of the village can be overwhelming at first. Thirty seconds in the village will have anyone saying, “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto…”
The village is like a sea of grass peppered with huts. Huts in the village are made of mud bricks and have dried grass as roofs. The average hut is probably the size of a suburban master bedroom, or a one-room studio apartment in the city. Kids pop out of seemingly nowhere to see you, and goats own the road. Many of the kids (and adults) go barefoot.
Tattered clothing on kids is the norm, babies tend not to wear diapers, and anyone under the age of 12 will probably look like they need a bath. Women carry water on their heads and babies on their backs – unless they are nursing, which is freely done in public. Men carry whole families (with luggage) on their bicycles and often have a hoe slung over their shoulder. People do their “business” by squatting over a hole. And these are only a few of the “uniquely village” sights we take in day to day.
What dangers do you encounter?
Relative to many places around the world, the village of Fimpulu is a very safe place to be. Crime in the village is almost exclusively of the petty theft variety. Person-on-person violence is very rare, and foreigners are held in such high regards that the village is more likely to handle us with kid gloves than let any harm befall us.
Nature, on the other hand, can be a bit more hostile.
Zambia is a malaria-endemic country, and foreigners are particularly susceptible. Avoiding malaria is quite straightforward, with the right precautions. Sleeping under a mosquito net every night is paramount, as the female anophele mosquitos are only active after dusk and before dawn.
Simply watching our step protects us from snake bites and wearing shoes prevents unnecessary sores and infection. Proper hand washing and water treatment also keep our stomachs (mostly) happy. Other than these things, there is relatively little to worry about, health and safety-wise.
what do you need?
Thank you for asking! The most honest answer to this question is that we need regular financial support from gracious donors in order to implement and expand the variety of programs that mean so much to so many.
Occasionally, we will put a call out for specific material needs. The best way to stay on top of those requests is to subscribe to our newsletter below or join our prayer team.