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Published: July 21st 2010
Lunchtime at the project
Meeting the locals in Encongolweni
Our first experience on an African bus: 4am wake up, breakfast and a short walk to the bus depot in Lilongwe before enduring a 9 hour bus ride to our project site, Engcongolweni School. Many of us found the journey to be tiresome and somewhat tedious; those who could (the minority) attempted a comfortable sleep whilst the others enjoyed absorbing the wonderful Malawian scenery ...certainly an experience none of us will forget (yet also one many of us would not like repeated).
Upon arrival at Engcongolweni School we were warmly welcomed by the headteacher, Baxtor, who showed us our toilet and shower facilities. The girls had a good few nights of luxury camping in the classroom whilst Miss Bennett, Mr Linsted, David (our leader) James and I had no choice but to camp it outside (which wasn't 'that' bad, apart from the barking dogs next to our tents almost every night!) It's fair to say that we couldn't have felt more welcome. We played games with the local children most nights which subsequently wrote letters to us, requesting to be penpals! We settled into the site immediatly...we all understand why Malawi is refered to as the 'warm heart of Africa'.
In fact, we made our stay at the school more than warm by holding a chilli contest between the 4 males...although no winner could be found, I don't think we'll find ourselves repeating the 'game'...
Of course, we were not just at the site to play games and socialise. The majority of our days were spent at the building site of 'Edinburgh High School for Girls', set up by Janet Chesney (who kindly allowed us to camp in her yard last night) who first came to Malawi in 2004. Our community work involved bush clearing (which set up an alpha-male competition between Mr Linstead and David.... Mr Linstead resulting the winner, despite accidently cutting his leg open with a machete) and brick making. In total we made over 1000 bricks with assistance from Henry, Watson and Elias who all intergrated well within the group. On Sunday we did not work, but instead we attended the local catholic church. We felt extremly welcome, and although we couldn't understand the priest...the African singing and dancing got all of us moving. Overall, looking back on our achievmants is a rewarding process and we look forward to seeing the school open in the
Unfortunately, all good things have to come to an end and the time came for us to say farewell to our new friends in Malawi. We left Mzuzu to arrive in Lilongwe for midday, enduring a slightly shorter bus journey of 'just' 6 hours. Upon arriving in Lilongwe, we settled into camp and now we await our food which is something along the lines of 'steak'. We now await our next phase: the trek. To be continued...
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