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Published: December 2nd 2017
Our next destination is Malawi, the warm heart of Africa! We are camping in the shores of lake Malawi, which involves a big drive from Tanzania!
Very soon after crossing the border into Malawi we noticed that the people here are indeed very friendly, every child runs shouting hello and waving at the truck, and even some adults too. If we see them to wave back they often switch to a double handed extremely enthusiastic wave!
On our first morning we had the opportunity to visit the local witch doctor. This was definitely worth the money simply for the entertainment factor! We had a short walk to the local village, accompanied by a group of villagers, where we were sat upon a bench hastily assembled from some planks of wood and locally made bricks. We were told the witch doctor was just getting changed ready to greet us with a dance. He came out in an outfit more at home in a children's school play, with bells around his waist and feet to top it off! He then greeted us with a dance, making full use of the bells, then inviting us up to dance with him one by one. After
this we were shown various powders that are his ailments for illnesses such as hangovers, malaria, wounds and love potions. They are all made from local plants, and apparently if there's something that isn't in his knowledge the answer as to where to find the cure comes to him in dreams, including where to find the right plants! Villagers. Come from all around to see him, paying in food more often than money. After this we all had our fortunes told individually - all based on more travel, a pretty safe bet!
Next we walked back to our camp via the local school. The children were all extremely excited to see us, with one class running out of class to hold our hands and say hello. The head teacher talked to us and told us that they have an average of 100 pupils per teacher, with 14 teachers! Only the top class in the school has desks too, as they cannot afford more, so all the other children sit on the floor. The school also has many orphans, as there is an orphanage in the village - with many being aids orphans. This leads to even less finance for the
school! It is compulsory to attend primary school though, and the government pays teachers wages and for text books, with the children's families paying for uniforms, exercise books and pens.
That afternoon we were off for another long drive to a different spot along the lake.
Our next stop was kande beach, where we had a free day to enjoy the lake. A few of us decided to go on a village walk, which includes a visit to the local school and hospital. Unfortunately when we started the walk a swarm of local village men surrounded us, grabbing our hands and took possession of our attention. There were so many that we each had two men trying to ask questions and dominate our conversation. This was very transparent - they wanted us to shop at their shop at the end of the walk. I finally managed to ditch one of the guys talking to me, as he was very forced and I wasn't enjoying any conversation with him. Talking to these men did give us some insight in to local life however, and I made sure to educate the man I was talking to about poor people and poverty in
England, as they have the mindset that all white people are rich and often feel that we should be handing money out.
When we got to the school the children were just leaving classes, so they were extremely excited to see us, grabbing our hands and arms so we each had 2-8 children hanging off us!
When we went to the headmaster he had donation boxes on the desk ready, and his address written on the black board - no sugar coating that one!
After this we headed to the hospital. The hospital services 18,000 people, with one doctor and one nurse! Here we were taken to see the new born babies. There was a woman laying in bed having just given birth the day before, and I'm very sure she didn't particularly want the tourists paraded around to gawp at her, poor woman. After this, bearing in mind there are 7 unoccupied beds in the room, a donation box was brought to us and plonked on her bed. I found this experience very cringeworthy and a bit embarrassing.
After this it was back to the village and back to 20+ men jostling for our conversation. Once back at the
beach and safely past the tat shops we could finally relax!
Malawi is renowned for its friendliness, and the people certainly are very welcoming and happy to see you. In spite of the desperate poverty throughout the country they were proud to show us what they have - water pumps donated by Canada, homemade brick ovens to build their houses, free mangoes from the trees! There is definitely a lesson to be learnt here that would go very far in the western world!
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