Peace Corps Zambia: How to Light a Brazier

Before the COVID-19 evacuation, pre-service training took place in a village setting where trainees live with host families to learn local language, customs, and daily living. It’s where I learned how to sweep the yard dirt, gut a fish, harvest groundnuts, etc.

Our lovely host family for three months of pre-service training

Since Peace Corps Zambia brought back volunteers in 2022, pre-service training has been taking place in lodges in Lusaka, thus they have not had the opportunity to integrate with a host family. It’s neither better nor worse, just a different experience! The volunteer leader recently asked me to make an instructional video on how to light a brazier since this is something that trainees will have to learn in order to cook and I thought that was a great idea.

When I first lit one, it took me two hours and a whole box of matches, but eventually, I got the hang of it and can now start it easily. Actually, I primarily use firewood to cook nowadays, but the brazier is convenient for rainy days and baking.

I’ve always enjoyed cooking and experimenting with food, but cooking with only fire or coals forced me to learn how to make everything from scratch with basic ingredients. Each dinner takes me about two hours, but I find it meditative while I zone out to podcasts. The nearest supermarket is a 3-hour bike ride away and food available for purchase locally is limited (basically just tomatoes, salt, cooking oil, eggs, and sugar), but I try to get creative with a variety of dishes. A lot of the plants come from my garden or are sourced from local farmers. I certainly think of food and convenience differently; my mindset is forever changed and I will continue to learn more about cooking healthy, wholesome foods on a budget.

Hope this video is helpful for those wanting to learn or at least entertaining for those who want to see a little peak at daily life in rural Zambia.

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