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.