First few days in Malawi

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October 29th 2017
Published: October 29th 2017
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First night (Wednesday 25th October) i felt queasy after the journey and didn't want to eat anything, which was a shame as Heather, the CEO of Landirani (African Vision, Malawi) had invited George (builder in charge of Sam's Training village) and Chikondi (the librarian) to dinner. Second night we had a frog in the bathroom, a cockroach on the living room wall and a spider who ran in under the door and hid among the skipping ropes I'd brought for the school. We found and killed that one, and chased another one out of the door. Later the cat caught and killed another one, and the dog caught two wind scorpions.
It's getting towards the rainy season and the spiders want to get under cover. Luckily we sleep under mosquito nets which, if tucked under the mattress, are spider proof.
Heather will be with me until Tuesday, when she flies back to the UK, and leaves me to fend for myself. This is the aspect that takes me out of my comfort zone, but I'll deal with it because I have to.

I'm going to focus on helping with the training of the caregivers in the CBCC (child based community centre), and some work with older girls, focusing on providing menstruation pads so they can continue to attend school.
Thursday I went out with Heather to visit a school whose roof had blown off. The children were still being taught in it, but the rains will come soon. We visited a shop set up by a disabled man to serve his village. He was out getting more supplies, but his wife was serving in the shop. Landirani lent them the money to set it up, and will be repaid monthly.
Friday morning I spent in the CBCC, observing, and modelling extensions of what they were doing. They have a chant to count from 1 to 10 (they count in English), which they recite altogether, then the caregiver selects children to chant individually. There doesn't seem to be the idea of counting actual objects, or of going beyond 10, or even of counting without the chant. Alefa, the caregiver, is a volunteer, and untrained, but will hopefully benefit from the training, provided it is appropriate for where she is, and where the children are. When I was here last time, she took on board suggestions I made, and came over every day to borrow the box of books I'd selected from the library for the nursery age children.
Apparently Malawi is now going to teach phonics, not just the alphabet, so I'm wondering about starting with the nursery children having a name card each, so they can start to encounter print and initial sounds. With 143 children on roll (though only(!) about 60 attending each day) this could be a potential nightmare of storage and retrieval.
The weekend Heather and I spent at Cool Runnings Lodge at Senga Bay on Lake Malawi. Saturday morning we hoped to see a local training session on making menstruation pads, organised by the charity Starfish, but it wasn't happening this Saturday as they had run out of fabric. So we had to go back to Cool Runnings and swim, and sit by the lake instead.
Saturday evening we went for a kayak ride northwards to where the Sands festival was taking place. Sam, who owns Cool Runnings, came with us, with her dog Angelica, and told us how to steer to keep in the right direction. At one point we got swept into shore and had to push it out again, over the waves that had started to develop. Sam told us to turn into shore at the end, lean back, hold our paddles up and we'd surf in on the waves. Exhilarating ride at the end and with the 5 kms we'd paddled we earned our g and t.
Sunday was windy with some rain so we didn't swim again, and left after lunch, giving a lift to a doctor who is working in the north of Malawi. On the way back I bought some wicker toy vehicles, and wooden animals for the CBCC. The stalls selling them are strung along the road and the sellers wrestle for your attention, 'Come and look. Looking is free,’ they say.

Heather is organising a fundraising 500 km cycle challenge from Blantyre to Sam's training village,next May (23rd to 31st). It includes a night at lake Malawi and Luwande wildlife park. Total cost including donation to the charity is £1500. Any keen cyclists let me know and I'll email the details, and I'll help you with fundraising too.


Tot: 0.618s; Tpl: 0.014s; cc: 14; qc: 43; dbt: 0.0115s; 1; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.3mb