I Have Arrived
04/01/2011
Details Resolved
04/03/2011
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Yesterday was busy, but not all at the same time. It has been strange being here without a group. I have felt “lazy”, I find myself waiting for the next task and wondering where I need to be and then realizing that the only schedule I have to keep is my own. Prior to coming on this trip I was worried about my nights alone. I have been lucky to be staying here at my friend Andrew’s house and at night I have had no trouble falling asleep in his guest house. I am comfortable and know that this was exactly where I was supposed to be.

Isaac picked me up at 9am and we went to Mtendere to visit the children. Isaac had called ahead to let them know I was in town so there were expecting me. All the children were out and about because it was Saturday. Most of the kids were in the main hall watching a movie, which was strange to see since last time I was here the electricity had not been hooked up yet. The little ones were out playing on the playground (wich of course warmed my heart) and a few of the girls were doing the wash. I was able to speak for a short time with Victor and hear the news that next week there are 30 new children expected to be arriving.

Everyone at Mtendere seems excited at the news that the new children will arrive and the fact that all of the 30 are young ones is especially wonderful. All the new children will be between the ages of 1 and 5 so our little group of “young ones” will soon have 30 new playmates. A few people who I wanted to see where not at the village so I will go back one more time in order to touch base with them. Gracian, Jordan, and Kita will be around on Monday so anytime after that I’ll make it a point to stop back buy. The hospital is still up and running, but looked slow as always. I ran into Lumbazi before my visit at Mtendere and purchased a trunk load of sugarcane for the children (couldn’t come empty handed).

The kids were thankfull and helped to make sure everyone had their fair share. While waiting for the sugarcane to be cut I noticed the boy with the machete had a bad wound on his leg. It looked as though while cutting he might have slipped and caught his leg. He must have been around 8. In my room before leaving for the day I saw my first aid kit and made the decision not to bring it. After seeing that boy I was so angry with myself for not having it and being able to clean his leg and bandage it. It has continued to bother me so rest asured I will no longer leave without it in my bag.

After Mtendere Isaac and I went for some lunch at Andrew’s place. We had a big burger and chips wich was amazing and stuffed us both! Then I asked Isaac if he would take me to his home to meet all of his children and to see his wife. Of course he was willing so off we went. It was only 20 or 30 min. drive, but once we left the paved road it was very slow going. The road was full of holes and bumps and spots where parts had been washed out. Isaac being the good driver he is navigated it well and after many ups and downs we arrived at the end of a long road to the bamboo gate.

There were at least 20 children standing around the gate and when I got out of the car they were all wide eyed and a few brave enough to shake my hand. We slipped into the gate and I was invited to sit in the main room of Isaacs home and meet with his children. They were all busy cleaning and cooking out back, but one by one their father called them in to meet me. It is still uncomfortable when the children come to say helllo and they bow on their knees to me. I certianly don’t feel worthy of that kind of treatment, but later that night Isaac explained that it is most simply a sign of respect and the children are taught this at an early age. Seeing Isaac’s house and how he lives was good, and at the same time hard. I think when we know a person for a long period of time we have an impression of what their life is like. The reality is always quite different and this situation was that way.

We stayd an hour or so and then took off back down the dusty long road into the city. by then it was 3:30 or so and although I wanted to have dinner out at one of my favorite places I was exausted, Im sure from the flight and also from being in the hot sun all day. I asked Isaac to drop me back at Andrew’s so I could rest and collect me again around 6. I went straight to my room and tucked under my net and quickly fell fast asleep. No clock in the room so a while later I woke knowing I needed to get ready for dinner. I dressed and freshened up and heard Isaac honking for me so the timing was perfect. Isaac and I had dinner at my friend Brian’s place unfortunately he wasn’t there, but the avacado that I knew I wanted to order was just as good as it always is. I had a glass of wine for my appetizer, my avacado for my main course and another glass of wine for my dessert (the waiter teased me about no main course). We decided to go back to Andrew’s restaurant and have one more drink and then head home. Andrew had not made it back to the resturant yet so that gave us a chance to relax at the bar and just talk. I seem to always have plenty of questions for Isaac and sometimes wonder if I bother him to much!

There was an incident at a government unversity less than a week ago that I had heard Isaac talking about and I wanted more details. I can only give you the version I got from him and I can promise that the news in Malawi is like news everywhere…you never what is true and what isn’t. To make a long story short there was a proffesor at this school who while teaching used the recent events in Egypt as an “example” during his lesson. Someone in the government found out and scolded him. After the scolding he went back to school and told his fellow proffesors that he had been given a talking to and told that what he said was not acceptable. The other teachers got angry and began to say “we have no freedom” , the students then became involved and decided to protest the school in order to stand up for their proffesor. 19 Malawi students spent the night jail after that protest. The government then made the decision to shut down not just that university, but both government universities in Malawi. No word on when it will reopen, but all students have been sent home and classes are no longer running. This of course has angered many people because they have paid for school and now have been sent away. Isaac is worried that there will now be an uprising similar to the one in Egypt if the government does not apologize to the teachers and students. He also speaks of “civil war”, Im not sure things will get to that point, but I know people are worried. Malawi has been a peacfull place for many years and I would hate to see it change in that way.

Andrew did show up and sent Isaac on his way letting him know he would bring me home. Once the doors were locked we needed to drive a few employee’s home and on the way they stopped at a “local” (like nothing most of you have ever seen or could imagine) pub. We went in for a drink with the boys and had quite a time. We only stayed for an hour or so, but because andrew and I are both white we seemed to be the “excitement” for everyone. I tried a few local drinks…or should I say moonshine…interesting is all I will say. One of the drinks I was given I actually had to CHEW…yeah…very odd, but Andrew was there with me so all was fine. I had a moment in that small pub in the middle of that small village where I thought and actually spoke out loud to Andrew that my friends and family at home could not ever comprehned where I was and would sure get a good laugh if they knew where I was and the experience I was having there. I took a few pictures so you all can get an idea and once home I’ll post them. Alright I have dragged on long enough here for today and will post again tomorrow. I have a healthy sunburn and am LOVING this Malawi sunshine. A far cry from the snow I left behind in Illinois.

Love to all who are keeping up with me…it means a great deal.

6 Comments

  1. Ellen says:

    jealous of that sun tan ;)… im very interested to hear more about the government schools and the controversy there… glad to know you are sleeping well. and PS… Butler is playing for the championship Monday. Jan has got to be thrilled 🙂 needless to say… I am too! love you bunches….

  2. Linda says:

    Yes, Houston is very busy with the final 4 championship!!! I am thrilled for Jan and katie. I am thrilled about your trip to Issac's . For me one of the best parts of travelling is the experience of seeing where the local working classs live. I am also excited about your bar trip. I can imagine exactly where you were! Bars are also another special thing about travelling! I would have to pass on the "moonshine" for fear of major headache in the morning! The body changes as one gets old…yikes! Little ones are a much welcome delight at the orphanage…ver heartfelt. Glad Andrew is treating you well and you are getting sleep. The picture your girlfriend posted of you and Ellen on facebook…made me laugh very hard..hysterical! Take care and love love the blog…..I certainly hope Malawi stays calm….the world is certainly rumbling……love u

  3. Chelsea says:

    Erin i'm so excited for you! so cool that 30 more young ones are coming. I love reading the blog…can't wait to hear more (=

  4. Norma says:

    Will those 30 young children have beds? Are 30 leaving? Glad things are going well for you. I also hope that there will be no unrest in Malawi, that would be so sad!! Please always stay close to friends while there and stay safe. Love you, mom

  5. I O Wa says:

    Good to hear of your day Erin and know you are doing well. Take care of yourself and give my best to everyone. Stay in contact, as you always do. (I like knowing you are ok:)) See you soon.

  6. NJCowan says:

    It sounds like a great trip so far! I know that you have talked with great passion about Malawi, and always said it would change my life if I ever went there. But you failed to mention alcohol you can choose. I'm a simple man, and chewy alcohol suits my simple tastes! Sign me up!

    All kidding aside, it sounds like you are reconnecting with friends and really enjoying yourself. I'm sure meeting Isaac's family, and seeing how they live, was bittersweet. They are most likely so very happy, yet – by our standards – live very poorly. Makes you think though. I'm glad he's there – and that your other friends are there – to take care of you. Looking forward to the next updates.

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