Saturday, July 6, 2013

Malawi, you have shown me so much!

What an unexpected, emotional and fast paced journey this has been.  Malawi certainly holds some of the raw truths of the world, surrounded by hardship, joy and beauty.  The last three days have been incredibly moving.

Thursday we were able to head to a wildlife preserve to see some of the most amazing animals in their natural habitat.   Cruising around dirt roads in the back of a beater pick up truck with an armed guard complete with an AK on his side, we saw warthog (I loved them!), nala, zebra, elephant, hippos, baboons, velvet monkeys, water bucks, and a few other animals I have never seen and can't for the life of me even pronounce their names!

Friday we were invited to attend a concert of "traditional Malawian music."  In my head I had pictured a tame auditorium with traditional instruments and a pulsing rhythm section.  Much to my surprise we arrived at the Paradise Motel, clearly a party venue with a line up of about seven reggae bands.  The party was on, the crowd was getting down; this was my Friday night party that I had so wanted to be a part of the week before.  However, I was the one and only white person in the crowd, and a female to boot.  The attention was out of control.  Although we had Malawian friends with us I was proposed to, danced with, poked, prodded and cajoled by both males and females the entire night.  To top it off, the parking lot outside transformed into a disastrous jam of vehicles, making our exit strategy totally impossible.  We jammed to reggae and deflected drunken suitors until four in the morning.

Today we visited three different orphanages with boxes of gently used school uniforms from the UK.  We were greeted by shouts of joy and songs.  Kids ran in the thick red dust after our truck and then waited patiently to receive a new shirt, or pair of trousers.  From tiny, dusty barefooted four year olds to teenagers, all of them joined in on the clapping and singing to show their incredible gratitude.  To be honest, I lost it for a moment.  Seeing that one shirt was so important to a child's happiness and quality of life, handed over by a strange looking, pale white girl brought tears of joy and total frustration to my eyes.  What an epic failure of humanity to  allow such a huge portion of the world to live in such conditions.  But the joke here is on us and all of the problems that we carry on our backs.  The smiles of these children beamed the truth of feeling pure happiness and joy without having anything.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Life the Rest of the World Leads

As I type frantically by candle light in order to preserve the little battery life left in my computer, I thought I would leave my readers with a little picture of life in, well, the rest of the world outside of life as we know it.  Just as I was getting ready to cook dinner, on a luxurious electric range and not over open flame, the power went out.  Random rationing affects different parts of the city at any hour of the day and dinner time just happened to be our luck.  If I had built a fire like the rest of the small houses around the complex I would have eaten by now.

So instead, I sit here on my computer, on a slow and temperamental internet connection, still connected to the technological age, but by candlelight.  Somewhat romantic it would seem.  Another detail about our accommodations is that we do not have hot showers, so instead each wash is refreshing to say the least.  However, today we did not have water at all, the pressure was out.  Instead I had a bucket bath for the first time ever.  The staff here laughed when I told them I would figure it out, and it wasn't half bad, especially because the water was boiling hot.

So as you sit in front of the tube, enjoying all the modern comforts you take for granted, take a moment to give thanks for what you have and remember that the people of Malawi are still extremely happy, hospitable and quick to laugh.  I think these experiences are worth more than any amount of dollars can buy.