Sunday, 17 May 2015

Day 3 - Lazy Sunday Afternoons (10-May-2015)

We were awoken early this morning to birds tweeting along to Neville's radio. As we'd agreed on a latish breakfast (8am) we slowly showered and ambled out to the front of the cottage. Here we found out that we had already missed the baboon show that had been scheduled on the lawn for 6am!

We found other wildlife in the garden though. There was a praying mantis on a wooden statue, a millipede and some sweat bees nested in the wall (the photo below shows Neville playing the role of David Attenborough!)

We also saw a fish eagle and a Harrier Hawk (?) before breakfast of kings - “the best scrambled eggs in the world”(TM) good toast and strawberry jam (again!) along with some fabulous fruit salad (straight from the trees).

After a fair amount of faffing around (there is always a fair amount of faffing!) we headed to the orphanage to be “welcomed”. The orphanage is about three miles from Neville's house (the cottage we are staying at). So we all piled into our two vehicles, and off we went!

We arrived at the orphanage to the staff performing a welcome dance for us. There are many photos, I've chosen just a couple. Even Rasheed, the manager at this orphanage donned a sarong and joined in!

After the official welcome dance, there was a group of local dancers, men dressed in military attire (complete with sergeant pepper lonely heart club hats!), women in traditional sarongs. They performed a dance (the Beni) inspired by the British military after WWII accompanied by the most enthusiastic drummer I have ever seen! It was a sight to behold. The photos will not do this justice.

Not everyone was so impressed, however!

We then had a tour around the orphanage. There are 40 babies here right now – about half of them are unable to walk properly yet, and the oldest is three. They are all incredibly affectionate – and demand to be picked up as soon as you step within arms length of their grabby little hands! Here is Mike holding Little Hamza (in fact, it looks as though Mike is having an in-depth debate about the political situation in the United Kingdom and the West Lothian question... and all Hamza cares about is why Mike is so hairy).

Six of the babies that were living at the orphanage on Sunday were HIV+, and were taking anti-retrovirals. Here they are in the “pharmacy”.

They are the boxes right at the back on the right side. Look how sparse this pharmacy is for 40 babies. This is everything – nappy rash cream, talc, baby wipes. Everything.

On Monday another HIV+ baby arrived – but you'll have to wait for tomorrow to find out about that.

When we arrived, all the nurses introduced themselves, in a very routine way. We did not think much of this at the time – but later we realised that this is one of the things kids are taught in school – how to introduce yourself. So, here is my introduction to give you an idea... “Hello, My name is Jane Hillier, I live in Zug in Switzerland, I go to Johnson & Johnson every day, I am 21 years old, I am a girl”.

After the tour (I have dozens of photos of cute babies and not so cute volunteers – will share once internet is not so paltry) we drove down to see a house that was close to being complete.

The house is in the background of this picture – but check out the wire car that this boy has made for himself. I have since realised that this is made from the reinforcing wire for the houses... so it might be that this house has slightly less reinforcing wire than it ought to!


Here is a better picture of what we were aiming for:

This house is made of baked clay bricks – which is not terribly environmentally friendly, so we will be using compressed soil bricks (“soil stabilised bricks”) which are pressed out in a very powerful machine (when it's working).

The layout and roof will be the same though. The layout is a living area of about 4m x 4m; a sleeping room of 2m x 2.5m and a store cupboard taking up the rest of the space.

The roof is made of galvanised steel and the floor is concrete.

Here is a picture of the house that we will be replacing.

This is the Grandma (Agogo) who will be taking possession of the house with the orphan, Chukungbutso (and her other children) once the house is complete. Check out the pile of bricks to the left of the picture. We will be turning these into foundation.

This will be a palace compared to the current accommodation.

From the building site we visited Takondwa School (“I'm happy”) in Ku'mgumb village (“place of the flying ant”) which was build by J&J, Kingswood School and a school in Arizona. Glad I didn't know the translation of the village name until right now! I have a phobia of ants and am terrified of flying ants!

Anyway, it was Sunday, so school was shut... or was it?? After just two minutes, we were surrounded by school children. Rasheed magic'ed up some keys, and the children were more than happy to entertain us. I have a couple of short videos, one of a boy telling us the months of the year, and another of the children “singing” their ABC's... but I do not know how to share them. One day I will.

Here are some photos of the kids, including one of Mike doing fist bumps with a group of kids.

Check out the girl in pink at the front of the picture – she is a future leader of the country, if she gets the chance – she was at the centre of every bit of trouble.

This is Neville encouraging one of the children to introduce himself (loudly, and see above for the script!)

And this is Neville with a hugely efficient stove which cooks for around 75 – 80 kids each day (They eat Likuni Phala – a specially fortified porridge which is particularly good for malnourished kids). These stoves cost about $500 and really do make a massive difference to the well-being of a lot of children when they are put into the right environment with the right infrastructure. (available food, and someone to cook). In this village, the cook is a volunteer from the village.

After all this excitement, we headed to a government sponsored bar for a well deserved rest.

This bar has been built at the top of a rocky outcrop on the plain – so there are spectacular views to the lake, which are very difficult to photograph. Soz!

The government built this and keep it open (barmaid, janitor) with the intention that it would be a cultural village – a show to tourists of what Malawi is like... But Neville told us no-one has ever gone there.

The apothecary (witch doctor demo) house has never even opened. The complex has chalets which are rarely slept in and which each have an air-conditioning unit attached (would not want to assume they are connected to anything though!) Mike found it amusing that, with such a stunning view, the chalets have been built behind the summit, so they have no view! (Apparently this is seen as a good feature as it means that the paparazzi won't be able to take long-range photos of ministers taking their secretaries there...)

We got to the bar, and ordered a round of cold beer... there was none. “A large party have just left, and they drank it all” the barmaid offered to Neville as an excuse. He called her on this obvious fib, and she wandered off to put some in the freezer. The beer was good though, Carlsberg green, I'm developing quite a taste for this!

We watched the birds in the trees (a spotters paradise, according to Neville) and saw a Dickinson Hawk. Meanwhile, Peter was playing “simon says” with a group of kids who were a long way off on the plain (they would imitate him standing on one leg, or waving his arm around). I'm not sure which party in this game was having more fun!

Back to the cottage for a marvellous dinner of chicken curry and green beans washed down with some good South African wine!

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