Arrived in dribs and drabs – finally making the quest team 2010. Camped in Lilongwe and ghad a bbq and our final ‘shower’ for a long time. Left for Pensulo, it took approximately six hours in a knackered out 60’s style hippy bus with a driver who nearly lost his will to live as the bus broke down on the massive hill. High spirits spurred him on to take us all the way to the camp, where we were greeted by Sylvia (Guide), Joseph (Youth group leader) and Dennis (Head teacher, Translator).
At the welcome ceremony (next day)we were greeted by the young and the old of the village. It was quite emotional because everyone made a huge effort to make us feel welcome over the forthcoming weeks. There was singing, dancing, speeches and plenty of music. We were very impressed by the amazing drum kit which was made out of scrap metal, wooden sticks, bottle tops and wire. But it was a fully functioning drum kit none-the-less. Joseph gave us a Chichewa lesson and we decided our gift to he community would be a rendition of the old classic ‘Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’ in Chichewa….Pretty impressive. It went down well, Thank God.
Construction work began at Joshua Secondary School, where we learnt the art of plastering, painting (really annoying thing you have to do to bricks to make them water proof) and painting with a lack of modernized tools, but the enthusiasm of Malawian Joshua warriors (with the war paint on the cheeks to match)! We spent a week and a half there and moved onto laying the foundations for the Pensulo Clinic. We are building this because currently patients have to wait in the scorching heat/pelting rain with nowhere to sit and wait. We finished off a few walls and built a couple of toilets as well. Spirits are high as the shelter goes up before our very eyes. We are enjoying building something physically from the ground up. Building work is hard, both physically and mentally, but it is good and we can see how much everything we do will benefit the community.
Everyday we have two team leaders and two cooks/washer-uppers. Team leaders must carry at least 140 litres of water to camp each day for the whole team as well as other chores. Cooks assist Aida and wash up in bowls on the ground. Alongside all this hard work there are perks, one being the feeding centre where there are approximately 90 or more children a day. Sometimes they get two meals, sometimes only one. The feeding centre is for children aged 0-5. When we go we play games, sings songs and help out with the children – it’s mental, but good fun.
As a team we have began to get involved with various aspects within the community – we have set up dance and theatre groups with the scout and youth group, both of which are going down well! More recently, games of football have begun in the evenings which are competitive, chaotic and particularly scary when having to tackle barefoot Malawians or Mary the beast of a player! We are starting sign language and first aid classes with the scouts and youth group as well.
Weekends so far have been fun though not as relaxing as we first thought. We went Hyena spotting at 4am last Sunday, then had breakfast (Rice crispies, papaya, bananas and a few cheeky monkeys called Steve!) and the climbed Mount Michirumitu our armed guard Mike, who has awesome biceps, a gun and a dodgy ankle, didn’t even break a sweat for the hour 3 hours and 45 minutes. Meanwhile, the quest team were nearly dead by the end. We slept for the rest of the day! The weekend was good though as before the Hyenas (which we didn’t see any of) we had enjoyed a few beers and a massive bbq around a log fire which was just awesome, to say the least.
Future plans involve a trip to Blantyre this weekend (where we have managed to upload this blog, buy some supplies and have a nice mel) and then later camping out scout style with the youth group with a few marshmallows and local brew. Next weekend brings us to Lake Malawi which is meant to be stunning and hopefully relaxing. Of course building work and community work will continue as usual. Main things we have overcome and are now accustomed to in camp include – doing our business in a hole the size of an A5 piece of paper, showering in the buff, with a bucket, surrounded by 3 other teammates and separated only by a thin wall of straw – it is surprisingly refreshing though! The flies and mosquitoes are still driving us crazy, but we have pretty much gotten used to them, its the mini-lizards and huge spiders that are still freaking us out a bit! We have also got used to the sunset being approximately 5.30pm with 6pm bringing total darkness. Head torches on and deet out guys!
James R also deserves a massive applaud for his 10 day survival with out his rucksack ( thanks to Airfrance and the Malawian transport) – 100 man points to him!! Evenings have been spent playing cards, drinking tea, coffee and hot chocolate (Luxuries) and going to bed at 7.30pm – definitely an acceptable time to be going to sleep – well in Malawi anyway! Mornings usually start at 6am, awoken spectacularly by the annoying cockrel, 5.45 am every morning with out fail. We are waiting for peter our night guard to used his machetti to wipe out the cockrel to have for dinner one day. Conversation in camp constantly surrounds food, even when we are eating our meals! Imagine our joy the day we discovered the snack shop (aka hut) next door earlier this week. We have eaten lots of potatoes, rice and peri-peri spice (which has descended into many peri-peri chanllenges!).
Things we are missing from home (Parents take note):
Amy – Salt’n’Vinegar sticks, cheesecake and bath
Kayleigh – Bath and chicken (maybe together)
Suzannah – Bath, English tea and risotto
Kirsty – toasted cheese and ham sandwiches and scrambled eggs
Nikki – Clothes, Indian and Chinese, takeaways and hairdryer
Helen – All types of food, saxophone, a toilet seat, warm water and means of communication
Emily – Cheeeeeessseeee
Sarah – Cheeeeeeessseecake
James Dobby Dobbo Dob – Guitar, meat, beer (What a man)
James Rivvvoooo – Beef, lager, double bed (We have another man here)
Yuka – Cheese and chupachub
Sleeves – Salmon, Cheesecake, fruit and a shower
Hannah – Nandos and cheese
Parents and friends don’t need a mention as it goes without saying but we would say start stocking your fridges!!!
Having a ball, the children make everything worthwhile as even though they have very little they constantly have smiles our there faces, the community are lovely. We can’t wait to see you all but not quite ready to go home yet.
Lots of Love,
Questies Malawi 2010 xoxo