Sunrise over Lake Malawi
Today was an emotional day. First thing, we returned to the children's home one last time to witness a "leaving ceremony". Esme, one of the little girls was returning to her village to live with her family.
Esme arrived at Mangochi at the age of 4 months, severely malnourished. At three, she was one of the older children at the home, and was really quite maternal towards the little ones.
Esme is the little girl sitting alone on the little chair. She is facing the carers, who are performing a farewell dance for her. (singing the phrase "we say goodbye-ee, but not for evah")
In the background is a row of volunteers, or paparazzi!
Here they are each having a last cuddle while continuing the singing.
This must have been very emotional for the carers - they had cared for Esme since she was a small baby. They also know the conditions that Esme will be returning to (you've seen photos of Chucu back in his village). However, they managed to keep the whole event happy and cheerful.
They are stronger women than I... I had to walk away to get tissues!
This is Tessa, surrounded by kids, and in her element! I think this is my favourite picture of Tessa!
Pictures on the wall of the home
And just for San, here's Milwall's most unlikely fan! This is Rasheed, the manager from the home in Mangochi.
Onwards to the building site.
Here is how the house was looking - the roof was going on.
And the latrine was being dug:
Or at least, lots of people were watching the latrine be dug!
And posing for photos!
However, today, the J&J folk HAD A JOB on the site! We were cooking lunch. At first, this seemed reasonably straightforward. Here is Françoise and Michael chopping veg.
But this was a feast, and a feast needs chicken!!
I suppose it is obvious that in a world without refrigeration, the best way to be certain of the freshness of your meat is to kill it yourself.
Whilst Peter looks comfortable carrying this chicken, we were totally reliant on the crew to gut, joint and cook the chicken. For anyone of a sensitive nature who isn't clear where chicken nuggets come from, flick past the next few pictures as Fred plucks the freshly slaughtered birds and I help Fred joint it....
The cooking was also an area where us musungu fell down. The Malawians can get an incredibly hot fire burning using just three bricks (and some firewood). Here are George and me stirring the same pot... one of us is cooking, the other is playing. I'll leave it to you to decide which is which!
And here I am supervising operations! (Do you like my authentic Malawi skirt? I had it made by the sewing workshop earlier in the week. I love it!)
Meanwhile the house was now providing some shade! The ladder is a handy arm rest - bingo! a relaxing spot!
Françoise was having adventures too. She had some soap and coloured pencils which she gave to the women that we had become friendly with. In exchange, in gratitude, they gave her a headband.
Now, let's think about this. Malawi is, according to the IMF and the world bank the third poorest country on earth (Wikipedia). Only DRC and CAR are considered to be poorer, and they are both war zones.
The people in this village are amongst the poorest in Malawi. They have nothing that we would consider to be essential (no clean water supply - everything has to be carried from a pump and boiled), very real food insecurity and insubstantial housing that is liable to be washed away in floods - yet here they are being so generous. Quite touching.
Finally lunch was cooked. Whilst I feel I helped, we would still be there if Fred, George & Luis had not stepped in! The least we could do was serve. Well, nope, we couldn't even do that properly.
In this photo, Fred is correcting Françoise' portion control of nsima. Honestly, I can eat a small spoonful of this stuff before I feel as though I'm going to explode. Fred dunked the plate into the pot, and three-quarters filled it for the crew.
We'd also cooked tomato soup, tanipas (the greens cooked in groundnut) aubergines and three chickens. Pleanty to go around.
Here's a couple of photos of us all enjoying lunch... me quite shiny faced!
And so, it's time to say goodbye ("but not for evah"!)
Here's the new owners of the house - Agogo with Chucu and the other four children that she looks after. I asked her if she was happy with the house, and she joked (using hands, her two words of english, and my two words of chichewa) that she'd thought it might have been bigger... some people are never happy!
It took us a while to say goodbye - everyone was milling around until Neville threatened to go without us. That got us moving!
Before we leave the village, here is another picture of the local kids playing, and improvising. Here they are making buildings in the sand.
These are maybe the future builders!
Back at the cottage, Neville proposed a trip on the boat. There was no wind - so it would be with the motor. Everyone except Pavel decided that this sounded like a good idea - so we packed up the Malawi gin and the remaining tonic, and any beers that had made it to this point in the week, and set off. These are just a mish-mash of photos that will mean more to those who were present than to everyone - but it was beautiful out on the lake.
Michael preparing the all important "sundowners" (gin & tonic)
Pierre acting the clown
Pierre & Charlie on the dinghy taking a photo of Neville in the water in front of the boat. Complex. Can't remember why this seemed to be a good idea - but Neville says the outcome is a good photo.
A couple of Charlie, who looks after the boat for Neville (sleeping on it most nights to protect it from thieves).
Tomorrow, the J&J folk all go home, and Michael and I set out on our own adventure looking at hippos & stuff. Photos to follow...