Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Countdown begins.... 15 days left in Malawi.

It has been a while since the last post.

Here things are getting more difficult to come to town. Fuel prices are increasing everyday. There is no fuel in Malawi and sometimes the only choice for the minibus drivers is buy the fuel in the black market. That means the price of transport increases and the service is not as good as before and have to wait for one hour to take a minibus sometimes, of course after being half an hour in the njinga taxi (bike). When you make it to get to Zomba, lately you find out that there is no sit down and wait for the electricity to come back to use the ATM or the internet. Once you are in the internet you have to be very patient, since it is very slow and comes and goes freely. Besides the internet price is very expensive, something like two pounds per hour, which in Kwacha is a lot!

Sun hut decorated for the Bday.
No more complaints :) Want to start talking about the Birthday Party. We had such and amazing time! Everybody had rice with beans and vegetables and then the cake. I had in my list 40 children who are usually around the village, but that day they showed up more than 70. I was worried if every child could have food. Finally all did and then we started with the adults. In total over 100 people ate that day and that made me feel very happy. Obviously we didn't have plate for all, so asked the kids to bring their own plate, you had to see then running home for the plate :)
Waiting to be served...

Mama (Matrida's grandmother), Matrida (with her plate) and me ready for the party.

After eating and exchanging some gifts the party started and we danced listening to Malawian music and danced in the Malawian style. It was curious when I gave the presents to Matrida (3 years old) and she didn't know what to do with them. We helped her to open them and she was wrapping them again, a bit overwhelming for her everything. Certainly an unforgettable Birthday for me, Miriam and Matrida.
Mama provided us for the party with the Malawian national wear; the kind of skirt that you can see in the picture.
Miriam, Matrida and I ready to cut the cake.
Cutting the cake with Matrida and Mama.

Time to talk about the project now. The three volunteers who are donating the money the fund-raised in the UK to builds schools (supportafrica) have finished to build some schools and mine was not in the list finally... But the good news are that Miriam, the volunteer who is teaching with me at Mapanje School is donating the money herself to build our school. The total cost to finish it is 30.000 Kwacha (140 pounds). The builders (people from the village working for free) started working last Saturday and it will be finished in one week approximately.

Some volunteers are donating money for the feeding program and have bought maize, ground nuts and sugar to cook a porridge and feed the children every day after the school. With a budget of 20 pounds approx, they bought food to feed all the children of one school one meal everyday for a period of two months.
Peeling peanuts for the feeding program.

Snack ready for the break at the school.
At the school when it is the break time between the lessons the food that the children have is: Boiled cassava, roasted maize, mangos, some of them potatoes, bananas and ground nuts. Basically what they grow in their farms. It is usual see them eating sugar cane as such. The luckiest ones has African cake, which is made from maize flour, sugar, banana and water. Mangos grow here everywhere and you just go to a tree and take them.So here, there are not issues about the children asking for the last biscuits they have seen on TV to bring to school. They all share their breakfast and give some to the ones that don't have any.

Break time.

The government provide every family with a piece of land for farming. It subsidizes around 80% of the actual price of the fertilizer they need to plant the crops at this time of the year (beginning of the raining season). They have to pay for a bag 500 Kwacha (2 pounds approx.), but due to corruption the prices are more expensive (2500 Kwacha) and some families can't afford to buy it.

One story from the previous week we visit the orphans was again quite shocking. Two orphan kids, a girl and a boy, leaving in their own. Because of the extreme living conditions, the girl decided to get married when she was 11 years old and as result we visited the boy, 14 years old leaving completely on his own and of course not going to school. One volunteer pay money for him to have the school uniform and to pay the school fees for one year. All together less than 4 pounds for primary school.

Teaching in the afternoon school with the older ones. Always plenty of volunteers to come to the blackboard:

Students bring their sisters and brothers to the school.
Balls are made of a bunch of plastic bags wrapped together and tied with a piece of string.

Some facts:

  • When I told to the local teacher at my school how much I paid for my flight to Malawi, she told me: "With that money I will be a wealthy person here"
  • Some of them ask you if in England (Europe) we have houses like theirs.
  • Babies don't wear nappies and the ones who are lucky to have them are reusable of course.
  • They don't have money to buy dish washer liquid and use a kind of scourer and the mud to rub the pot and a bit of solid soap sometimes.
  • Some of the children who manage to have the school uniform cannot go to school all the time because they don't have money to buy washing powder always.
  • They sell hand packed oil mini-bags, of less than 50ml volume. Not everyone can afford to buy a 500mls bottle. 
  • This is how the majority of the logistic works in Malawi, and how they supply the villages:  having a soft drink is the best treat you can get, if you find a place with electricity. Diet Coke doesn't exist in Malawi and they have pineapple, passion fruit and tropical Fanta. Buy water is more expensive than the fizzy drinks.

  • Cinema time. Every Thursday afternoon we go to the cinema with the children from the school. For 300 Kwacha, 1 pound approx. you can bring as many people as you can fit in the room. You are lucky if you arrive and they have electricity, what didn't happen the last two weeks.
Cinema time.

If you want to donate money to supportafrica this is the link:  

You can see pictures of the project and the three volunteers working in the building of the schools and with the children. I have been living with them for more than a month and can tell you that your money is going to be invested to improve African Children Life Conditions.
Zikomo kwanbiri ( thanks a lot) for reading me. Hope I can bring to you a little bit of the amazing Xperience I am living in the Warm Heart of Africa! 

Tionana (See you)