Archives - Reports January - June 2011
    Report-June 2011, Carol Stafford
    Report-January 2011, John Harrison
    Report-March 2011, John Harrison
    Report-May 2011, John Harrison

    Report-February 2011, John Harrison
    Report-April 2011, John Harrison
    Report-June 2011, John Harrison
    Report-June 2011, Carol Stafford
    Click on each picture to enlarge it
    Saturday, 11th June
    After travelling for about 26 hours, comfortably and with no misadventures, we arrived in Lilongwe airport. The flight from Johannesburg was very good. Air Malawi only have one flight a day, so you wouldn’t want to miss it. We were served with a very tasty lunch at no cost.
    I had a nice chat with a young Malawi gentleman sitting next to me, who armed me with the greeting “Muli Bwangi”, which was to see me through lots of introductions.

    On arrival, about 3.30pm, I immediately spotted John and Francis on the balcony of the fairly small airport. We had to wait in a queue while they checked everyone’s bag and Tony had no problem buying Kwacha at a good rate from the Money Exchange. The whole thing was very exciting with a touch of “Am I really here?” - Then a great reunion with John and Francis – hugs all round. Off we went to the Jeep/truck with John proudly displaying the celotape holding something together.

    It was a lovely drive to Chimteka; about 25degC and we had about 80 km of good road. The scenery described “beautiful Malawi” - flat land; red earth, trees and lots of settlements of red brick houses; some were trading centres, shops, churches etc. We drove around the outskirts of Lilongwe, going west. The road normally leads to Kamwendo then Chiosya clinic and beside it, the trading centre and secondary and full primary schools, with Guilleme close by. However, we took a short cut before Kamwendo onto 20 km of dirt roads to Chimteka.
    We were immediately into the land of TA (Territory Adviser, I think) Symphasie, who is the over-all chief of all this area. I shall explain the hierarchy later. In all these villages and settlements, maybe 2 -3 hundred, there are lots of small red brick houses; it all looked reasonably well – lots of goats, hens, dogs and a few pigs.

    The cash crop is tobacco and had just been cut. Earlier we saw the market near Lilongwe, in which it is compulsory for farmers to auction their crop. The price has dropped dramatically; because people need money now for schools, they have to sell at a poor rate – about 2/3 of normal. If they could delay, they would get a better price. The tobacco is often driven over the border to Zambia, and fetches a bigger price there. It can also be re-sold later in Malawi for more. We saw sugar cane and the maize, their staple diet, has been harvested.
    Finally, we were in Chimteka. It was now dark, as the sun sets at 5.30pm and begins to get dark at 6.00pm, but what we saw looked well. We stopped and visited the office in the hall of the Chimteeka Dineen Centre - a fine big room kitted out with computers etc. and chatted to some children.
    On to the volunteer house with good-sized sitting room and 2 double bedrooms. Outside is an open yard leading on to a spacious kitchen (with fireplace) and a wash room (no running water, it is carried in from borehole and heated for washing). The latrine is outside the security wall a distance away. Alileyah, the cook/housekeeper has dinner left in thermos type dishes. We talk by candle-light (no electricity) then bed. We also met Kamwendo the night watchman.

    Sunday, 12th June
    The CBO
    We got up early and walked around the centre or headquarters of the CBO (Chimteka Based Community), can’t believe I am here. We found four boreholes within 200 metres of the centre; one beside the teacher’s houses, the second in the centre (built by UNICEF) near the playground, with a feed from it into a small garden, which had been surrounded by a fence. There are goats, pigs and hens wandering around freely and unfortunately the goats had broken the fence, and then eaten the content of this garden. People are not keen to tether goats or hold pigs in sties (with the exception of PODCOM group), so this is a problem when planting begins again.
    The third borehole is left of volunteer house, fairly close, and I reckon tends houses beyond this.
    The villages of Chilije and Msuzi are in close walking distance to the centre (see map) and the 4th borehole in this area is in Msuzi. Lots of children were dotted around the area. The women keep the ground of red earth well swept and the whole area looks very well.

    Francis arrived and walked around with us. He introduced us to his wife, Rodere and nephew Sam. His house is small but nice; his parents live with them.

    We start off for the church in Guilleme,about 20 kms away, taking a short-cut from Chimteka over bumpy terrain – the same route as taken by the motor cycle ambulance to the hospital. This is a mission area with hospital, church and high school. In the school, the boarders pay but the rest of the pupils (probably picked from local area) are free. It was all a good standard, developed by the Whitefathers. All education here past 3rd grade is through English. The blackboard work looked quite advanced, which also applies to our schools. There is no school today but numbers on board for role looked small (about 38). Beyond this is an even finer boarding school to which well-off children are sent throughout Malawi.

    Church was a lovely experience – the women sat on the left and men on the right (I sat on right with the guys). The girl’s choir was at the front with boy’s choir behind, the singing was great, with the African drum beat; babies and children were in abundance and the service was quite long. They were all dressed up and it was a relaxed musical experience.

    Kamwendo Market
    We stopped off at the market in Kamwendo on the way back - an amazing experience. A man was conducting an auction of clothes near the road and seemed to attract a crowd and success; $1.50 for jeans and $1 for a shirt. It stretched right back to the station where they were moving bales of tobacco for the auction in Lilongwe. As we progressed, the clothes got even cheaper. They all looked clean and good quality. John buys all his clothes from the market. Towards the back, John said the clothes were from charities all over the world and were very cheap. There were times during the visit that the committee ladies looked so well, I felt under dressed.
    We shopped for a few groceries in Tescoe and Francis bought a load of cabbages, which we ate chopped up like coleslaw for days.

    The day begins at 5.30am when housekeeper/cook Aleleyah crashes through the security gate, sometimes with children and clatters around with the wash-up. We have breakfast – tea/coffee and bread and are usually ready for 7am, which is when school starts. John might be gone earlier to office. Lunch is about 1pm with rice, pasta or potatoes (chips) with sardines or tuna or maybe chicken, which would be fried. Dinner is after 6.30, by candle light, as it gets dark about 5.30 – similar to lunch. We would sit and talk or look at things on Tony’s ipad and bed about 9pm. Lunch and dinner are left in thermos-type covered plates to be eaten as wished.

    Monday, 13th June CBCC
    We visited the pre-school CBCC in the classroom. They were delightful; singing the ABC; jumping up and down; singing songs; when asked in turn to say their names in English, they would stand up and say "My name is.." sit down and a big clap from class with rehearsed chant; manners and obedience excellent.

    Chiosya Health Clinic
    On to Chiosya clinic only 10 mins drive away. We were shown round a decent sized waiting room and office where Emanuel (a medical assistant) does the triage - consultation, diagnosis and treatment. The HB machine (brought by Annie) does an excellent job. It has saved 8 lives. Testing of the haemoglobin is vital allowing transfusion to be given in time. Annie, on behalf of the Dineen Chimteka Trust, also bought a lot of medical equipment during her visit last November. Each patient has a medical card which is marked on each visit with the next visit entered. If the patient doesn’t show they check up. To the left of the waiting room is the area for maternity cases with 3 small treatment rooms. Those waiting were seated on the floor outside. There is 1 delivery room with 2 beds.
    We were lucky to meet Fortina, who had just been on a course for suction births and delivery of breach babies. She is a great character - larger than life. She does one week on and one off with Dalton. That night, due to deliveries, she had only a few hours sleep; she could possibly deliver 8 babies in one day.

    Then we visited the CTC room and met Christie and Elias. Elias,is in charge of all the HSA's (Health Service Assistants) and he told us that the CTC program around the villages involves growth monitoring and nutrition of children; testing the water and sanitary conditions and vaccinations. They also work in the centre testing and counseling for aids, giving vaccinations etc. I found out later that the HSA’s visit 10-12 of our villages once a month - the same ones each time. The villages not visited, presumably those furthest away, have to make their own way to avail of this. I wonder if they actually do. The recent connection of electricity to the clinic has been a great success. Fortina and the staff send their thanks to CCS. Christie works part-time at clinic and is learning from Elias. He and his team do a print-out of all statistics gathered once a month. I explained to Elias how anxious we were to obtain stats on conditions in our villages and what kind of info we ideally wanted and asked if he could photo copy a suitable part of statistics for us each month. He said he would look into it and see what he could do for us. I talked to Christie later and said I would email her our questionnaires which she might show him to give a better idea of what we want. She said she would try to pursue it for us. Never did get to see Elias again, we were never there at same time.

    DPR, Mr Phiri
    First we visited the DPR, Mr Phiri who is a very nice, impressive man, who explained the system of assessment of teachers. He showed us how they have a table of requirements that each teacher has to fulfill; they are very stringent re qualifications, dress code, prep of lessons, method of questioning and answering pupils etc.

    Chimteka II - situated in the HQ of the villages
    This was built 2 years ago by a Scottish schools charity - Eleven for One. There are four classrooms for Forms 1-4. We met the headmaster, Mr. Francis who said the teachers were very happy with their houses. Classes are from 7am - 12.30 with the afternoon off. We went into 2 classes where the behaviour and manners of the pupils were excellent. The number of boys and girls present were written up on the board - Seemed to be about 68 – 75. I talked to the classes about the lessons they were doing and told them I was impressed by the subjects being taught and talked about our schools.
    The work on the blackboards was of a high standard. Sometimes you see classes being taught outside. I did hear that children can be sent home if their clothes are dirty and some could have traveled a good distance.

    We saw CBCC children eating maize outside in the round shaded area.
    Full Primary School- situated beside the Secondary School and next to the Trading Centre
    This is the senior Primary School, about 3km from the centre. We saw the improvements made by CCS to classrooms for forms 5-8 and talked to the headmaster, Mr. Zulu, a very nice, expressive personality. I was very impressed by the syllabus- English, maths, Chechewe, science and experimental science, agriculture, social science and expressive art. The classrooms would have about desks for about 60 and the rest of pupils would sit on the floor. In forms 1-4, the numbers are reduced due to the numbers attending Chimteka II primary . However, there is a build-up in Form 5, when pupils join from Chimteka II Primary. Lessons are through English from Form 5. The school is still awaiting connection from ESCOM. This will make a big difference as they can then have studies and classes after 5.30 (when it is dark). Mr. Zulu took us round the school and introduced me in two of the classrooms. He has a great presence. The pupils were very obedient and well-mannered - nice blue and white uniforms. I addressed the classes and encouraged them to study and complete their education, used examples of how it had helped me get on etc. Mr. Zulu translated, though they understood a good bit - great reception.

    The Secondary School
    The school is adjacent to the Full Primary school, separated by a large grass area – a short walk away. The pupils were sitting exams so we only saw one class. The headmaster was invigilating but we were met by the language teacher, Mr Million, who was helpful and seemed well educated. I got another great reception and we had a bit of a laugh, they were guessing my husband, Tony got a ribbing on way out. Nice uniforms, blue and white.

    We were then taken to the existing hostel which and were shown around two small rooms, holding 14 and 18 girls respectively. Both were very crowded with clothes and possessions and quite unsuitable. The girls were cooking outside on an open fire. We talked to them and I asked how they would like a new bigger hostel. Great enthusiasm, they would love it. An appointment was made to meet with some of the girls from different classes to discuss the new hostel.

    We stopped in at ESCOM (the electricity company) on the way back to talk to Mr. Ndelmare regarding connection to the Full Primary. John made his usual good pitch to nail him down and he said it would be done in a month

    On the way back we stopped at Christie's house. She is the recently arrived Peace Corps volunteer working at Chiosya. The house belongs to Evalista, the President of the CVAAC group, and has been arranged and fitted out by John.

    Tuesday 14th June
    Holiday, so schools closed – we visited Katakunga village, one of the furthest out, and met the chief and visited sites where pit latrines were being dug. On the whole, John and Francis told them that they had to be deeper. This is a sandy village so there are problems with the sides collapsing. It is a poorer village - next to Katakira in Simphasi land, where there is a primary school, so children here can progress to this after CBCC. However, there is some resistance from parents. An American business man married a lady from this village and they visit every year to help the village. This year we saw a party of Americans going round in an ox cart. Villagers have made lots of bricks and are building a community hall with support from this crowd. Bricks were being moulded, dried and baked in the kiln, as is done in our villages.
    If I understood John correctly:
    TA (Territory Agent) Simphasi is the over-all chief of Chimteka and all the other villages which number around 250. His land stretches over the 20 km to the main road. Under Simphasi are 9 village headmen of whom one is Francis’s brother. He nominally looks after our 21 villages in Chimteka plus another 6/7 other villages, which include villages: Kamangiurd, Tomasi and Mindakwas and Simphasi. There are 13,000 people under him, with Chimteka currently having 6,600 of these.
    Francis used to have this position but abdicated when he joined the police in S.Africa, where he worked for 10 years. However, he is currently taking this position back from his brother, though technically he is chief (headman) over our 21 villages.
    There are around 26,000 in total in TA Symphasie’s land.
    If a chief owns the land, he also owns the people on it.

    Though our projects e.g. boreholes and sanitation, are only for our 21 villages, the others may benefit by some of our improvement e.g. schools. There is no definitive boundary between our villages and those of TA Simphasi, so there could be some side by side like the example above (Katakira). Above TA Symphasi, there are a few more chiefs leading up to branch level.

    CVACC (Chimteka Village Aids Co-ordinating and Orphan Care Support Group)
    I had to address the CVACC in the hall. We were greeted by the choir singing and ladies dancing; beautiful. Francis translated and introduced me and I talked to the group, telling them I had walked around the centre and been very impressed, summarised our main projects, mentioned recession in Ireland and cut-backs we are having like they are experiencing. We are still determined to continue with our endeavours though with more emphasis on priorities.. The committee and leaders were present. I will talk later about who is on committee and rotation. The response was good - they were just very grateful for all we had done and continually stressed this- boreholes and sanitation projects very popular. There were very few requests

    Support group - HIV/Aids
    The ladies were singing again as we entered from the back. As before, it was Francis, John, Tony and I. It was very touching to see all the members who are coping for themselves and others. Francis again introduced Tony and I. Tony has been taking footage of these events on his DVD camera whilst narrating what is happening, so it should be really good.

    Anyway, the bottom line is we all share. I shared our work back in Dublin and how we are aware of all that is happening with John’s reports and our supporters can read about it on the internet. They are so appreciative of all we have done. They listed everything- delivery of ARV drugs by John each week; being able to come to the hall for them. They visit the Chiosya clinic for testing health and counselling.
    There were just a few requests:
    • They stressed they need good nutrition and would love a patch of land, which they would tend themselves, with seed and fertiliser. John later said they would have to start this process themselves, and then we would come in and help.
    • Dissemination of information - they wanted 2 or 3 bicycles to be able to meet with others in like situations. They feel they do not know how to keep healthy all the time; they need to share information amongst themselves. I have an idea about these bicycles.
    • Bring a trainer in to show them what to do to keep well. They all love training.

    Mothers raised their problem: now, to stop a mother who is showing positive passing it on to her baby, there is a pill you can take and this protects the milk also, but after 6 months the breast-feeding must stop. Problem is they are worried to do this because if no milk child may starve (not get enough nutrition) after this. I discussed it with Christie. Aids stats given to me: Adults - 173; Children – 18

    John talks at the end; he's very good and very much to the point. Also he can tell them off if he thinks it necessary and drum in a message we might want to get over.

    PODCAM (Parents of Disabled Children Association of Malawi)
    Evelyne is a totally dedicated Dutch physiotherapist, who is collected by John from Lilongwe each Saturday to voluntarily treat the disabled, fit children for wheelchairs and facilitate epilepsy treatment and therapy for deaf people.
    Over 300 children/adults are benefiting from physio/epilepsy and orthopedic services
    Talks have also been given in schools and the community to encourage integration of the disabled into education and society.
    It was sobering to see the dedication of all those present in very difficult circumstances. The group could not have been more appreciative of all the care given by Evelyn, her teams and John. They listed all that is being done for them including the gift of pigs to rear and breed and send many, many thanks back. The message comes over. Please don't leave us. The only request is for training of 2/3 of their people to administer epilepsy medication.
    There was sharing back and forward.

    Visiting Villages of Liwinga, Mtsambeau and Belo
    Liwinga and Mtsambeu are just beyond the area of the trading centre. We met the chief in Lilingwa, who is a young, energetic man; I would guess a good leader. They had been active and successful in digging the pit latrines and had a pile of bricks made to start making a CBCC, just close to the main path. John appears ready to help when needed.

    Mtsambeau is just a bit further out and I believe a new village. I was taken into one of the dwellings occupied by a lady, now widowed; small but clean and tidy, with mosquito net and blanket. John was looking at pits here too, and he got a young man to show us how thy get down into this very deep hole to dig at the bottom. It was fascinating and funny to see him frog-walking back up the side; nice village.

    Lastly, on to Belo which is first right on way back from schools and clinic. The chief here was very friendly – he gave me a gift of oranges at the meeting in the centre.

    Chimteka Trading Centre Market
    Next was a visit to Chimteka Trading Centre market where Tony bought 6 teaspoons for the house and I bought material for a chechinge. There was evidence of “white” people around. We had seen Grace the day before and she had a number of young people visiting. Fortina’s house, provided by the government is beside the trading centre. It was very nice, bigger than we are used to seeing. Dalton also has a very nice house. The Trading centre itself is a hub of activity with all kinds of shops (and pubs if I am to believe Paul), music an lots of noise. It struck me that if we had anything serious to sell from the villages, we could rent a spot here for that purpose. Otherwise I’d say people just bring produce to the markets.

    We had a well-earned dinner later with a bottle of wine from the local supermarket.

    Wednesday, 15th June
    We drove to Katakungwa again and saw Francis’s garden en route. It was by the river and well tended with deep ridges to conserve water. He is growing sweet potatoes and has mango, pau-pau, banana and guava trees and a little sugar cane, they like it for chewing. In theplanting season, he and his wife Rodere get up at 2am to farm the field. He finishes about 6.30am, ready to accompany John on his work, finishing about 6.30pm. They can’t afford to play labour so do it themselves. In Katakungwa the children were about to enter the CBCC. We witnessed a lovely session where one of the mums took yhe class with a baby in her arms or rather wrapped round her, energetically conducting the class while breast feeding when necessary. It was a similar program to that of Chimteka CBCC – chanting songs with pre-learnt movements, sitting down immediately when commanded; they also say their names in English and often when passing a young child they will ask what your name is; you ask theirs and communication is made; I also tried out “high 5” which they had great fun copying.

    Meanwhile outside, 3 mothers are stirring a container - a rocket stove, of maize porridge for the children when finished. UNICEF donates stoves and plastic plates, cups etc to each CBCC. I took photos and result on camera to much laughter.

    Meeting with TA Symphasi
    On the way back to the community hall, we called in to see Chief TA Symphasi. Who heads up the 9 Village chief headmen, which accounts for the 2-300 villages and 26,000 people in the larger Chimteka area. This was pre-arranged and his attendant was waiting in the doorway to take us in. The house was small enough but bigger than most with more than 1 room. There was a couch and 2 armchairs and the chief was seated watching a small TV. The reception was bad (no internet). The four of us exchanged pleasantries with Francis conducting a pleasant meeting, in which he stated his support and appreciation of our projects. I again gave greetings from CCS, said how honoured we were to meet him. He courteously replied and talked about the boreholes and how on one of his walks round had noticed a dirty area of water gathering around pump. He had admonished villagers and told them to clear it up. I of course was in full favour of this. We parted on good terms. I think I have explained already that some of our villages are intermingled with others of the Symphasi villages. Apparently he cycles around a lot but I think not too active.
    Meeting with Village Chiefs
    Back to the community hall where the chiefs were waiting for us, Christie had joined us by now. From the stage, Francis brilliantly conducted and translated the meeting; 16 chiefs present representing: Chilije,Waya, Jombo, Chimteka Trading Centre, Zoipa, Dothi, Belo, Bolola, Liwinga, Mtsambeau, Fano and others I missed. I went round shaking hands with each of them. They were each asked to stand up in turn giving their name and village. Tony filmed each one. I talked next; outlined who I was representing; the major projects we had/are implementing and emphasised that their support, help and leadership were necessary for success. At the end of it all, what we had done would be theirs and up to them to maintain and keep well; ours was a partnership and we hoped to continue, with their help, to identify their needs. Appreciative applause followed.

    They then shared and CCS may be in no doubt of the success and appreciation of our work. Excerpts from some of the chiefs:
    Appreciation for all done; clean water, sanitation, education. “Before we came it was just a bush – now a town; more beautiful”. I was given a gift of oranges.
    “We are now different from other people”; complemented each of the things we had done; they are very proud. Deeply appreciate partnership and progress for future.
    So they are most keen to help and lead. Now anxious to get on with the conservation farming with John

    Tony spoke then and unrolled the large map of the world which we had brought. He pointed out Malawi and then Ireland and the large distance between. How both are small but both can be big; small is beautiful; it went down with a lot of laughter. Then John, as usual, spoke very well.

    Lunch – collapse

    Meeting with Secondary School girls re hostel
    Christie and I talked to 30 girls from Form 4 (last class, unfortunately) in one of the classrooms. They were very well behaved girls with good English, so we managed without translator as Christie learnt Chechewe. I spoke first and after introductions stated the reason for the talk was to tell them about the proposed hostel, at which they became very animate.
    I drew up the plan on the board, explaining each bit at a time, beginning with the concept of bunk beds and 4 in one “room”. They were thrilled with each feature; loved bunk beds and dining/study tables; also wash/shower areas – would love showers, of course. They understood the concept of it being in two parts, I stressed initially funds might only stretch to the 64. We then spent rest of time discussing cooking. They mostly use the 2 stone method of open cooking with charcoal.
    However, after much discussion and description of the uses of fireplaces with flues from Christie and I, some of them came around to seeing the advantage. They asked if there would not be a cook. I replied that this was possible and indeed would be more practical, but would depend on the school committee who would run the finished school. Christie is also taking some of these girls for classes on female issues and am sure she will extend this. Christie has a lot of useful training to impart.

    Walking from Trading Post/School home and the Map

    After this, Christie and I had to find our own way home, so I suggested to Christie that we walk. This was an education in itself. You pick up and chat with others on the road. Christie fared much better with her knowledge of the language. Bicycles with all number of people and possessions on them pass you. We saw a number of ox carts laden with people or possessions; animals; a child being pushed in a wheelchair by other children never a dull moment. Of course when you are driving with John, he will pick up on the way, particularly mother and child. So when you look at our map – from the clinic/trading centre/either of the 2 schools you can comfortably walk in 40 mins. Also from map you will see the paths leading off to the various villages. If they were ever to hammer in a post at each turning with names of villages on each path, it would be brilliant. Everything is quite close together. Of course, when you turn at the crossroads at the trading post to Kamwendo/Mchinji/Lilongwe, you still have 20 kms of dirt roads to the main road. One of the things that gets Francis is that so many of the villagers have never seen this main road or further. He would love to take the youth club on a trip somewhere. Even wondered if Sutton Park might let some of their funds be used to this end.

    After dinner Kamwendo appeared and took us out to look at the partial eclipse. He explained all about the path of the moon and said a lot of the villagers were superstitious and thought it a bad omen. Normally the stars can be so clear and bright. Tony loves listening to Kamwendo; he thinks he sounds like Nelson Mandela.

    We watched a documentary on China on Tony’s ipad.

    Thursday, 16th June
    Visit to Mchinji Hospital
    We left Francis behind today and set off to collect Malaria drugs at the hospital. John took us round a lot of the hospital. It is an impressive modern–looking building with lovely gardens and wide open corridors and as John knows lots of people there we got many introductions.
    John vanished into the pharmacy to do the business – but for this I daren’t think how little drugs Chimteka would get, especially in the current clime of the British ambassador being dismissed after an email to London was leaked revealing excesses of the administration. As we all know by now, Britain stopped the aid money in protest and of course drugs are very scarce now and the poorest suffer. Also fuel is very hard to get, we think because payment has not been made at source.
    After a note is made out to get drugs, it has to be signed by a number of people, so we are now on a hunt for these personnel. We pass Mr. Kalipindi’s (renowned and generous orthopaedic surgeon) room and meet a nursing sister in charge of the Aids clinic. She gave advice on medicine to give positive mother to avoid transmitting to baby.

    The last signature we needed was that of Mr Hulio, (the DHO) an impressive and well travelled man whom we were lucky to catch at his desk. John keeps him informed on progress with proposed maternity centre and told of the pending cadastral survey. We then collected a large amount of malaria drugs – expensive but given free by the USA. He also made some arrangements to meet him for a drink the following week. The whole experience took 4 hours.

    Kachalera Hospital and Maternity Clinic
    We stopped here on the way back. It is 20 km from Chimteka. This centre consists of a hospital, first built by the British in the 19th century as a leper hospital, and an old maternity clinic. A new state of the art clinic, and the same as we would build, has been built nearby, by the Chinese. However, this has never been opened due to a controversy concerning payment. We were able to look through windows and it was indeed most impressive and progressive.

    Back for Lunch

    Meeting with the Youth Club and Chimteka Band
    It was decided to name it the Chimteka Dineen Trust Youth Club - In memory of one of the founders of CCS, Dr. Phil Dineen and the work and funding done by the Trust.
    We had a most entertaining afternoon. When we entered the hall, the executive committee were seated on the platform and we joined them there for what was a very sharing experience. The leaders introduced their executive committee of the Chimteka Dineen Trust Youth Club, one by one together with their objectives and activities. They are very lively and talented and gave us separate renditions of drama, poems, and singing (choir and rap). Two of their prime objectives is to prevent the spread of HIV (Aids) and to integrate disabled people into the community, and they had great fun disseminating this information. Examples of what we saw and heard:
    • About 6 young people singing a lively rap number in English abd Chechewen with the message – how to avoid getting Aids. Girls should beware of early sex and boys should also be aware of the consequences. Beautiful girls - short skirts etc get together and now girl with Aids.
    • A skit – boy wanting to marry daughter of disabled tin smith and how they fool him and the boy mocks him getting what money he can as gift for marriage – stop discrimination against disabled.
    • Song – Malawi beautiful country with hills and lakes but AIDS - stop- not good to go with boys – wait to get married.
    • Poem – I was clever then made an orphan, now no money, world has changed, HIV (aids) biting – not spoken before – beautiful girls, boys, now . . . take care.
    • Choir – beautiful voices of girls and boys – singing also about Aids.
    All the acts were brilliant and took a lot of practice.
    The Youth Group have a programme giving lists of their members (I think currently 50); Activities including child care , drama, Children’s Corner, IMCI committee, care of orphan and other vulnerable children, Community volunteers, Disability Care and other; also Future Planning.
    They asked for:
    • T-shirts, stamped with Chimteka Dineen Trust Youth Club.
    • Bicycles to get around and disseminate information.
    • Instruments for the Chimtaka Band.
    • Megaphone or other system, to broadcast meeting arrangements and messages over distances.
    We then went outside to watch a game of volley ball. There was one girl in each team and it was great fun to watch. Girls normally play netball. There was a lot of cheering and shouting for each team.

    On return, the Chimteka band was on the stage and played brilliantly. We were all up dancing (see Tony’s video). Fortina and a European friend showed up and joined in the fun.

    We went off later to see the headmaster of the Secondary School re the hostel but he wasn’t there. John made an appointment for 6am Friday.

    We watched a film on the ipad.

    Friday, 16th June
    Meeting with Headmaster of Secondary School
    We were up at 5.30am for appointment with Headmaster of Secondary School, Clement. He is young (recently appointed), bright and busy. I showed him Catherine plans, and explained the main features to him. He liked them very much and we left him with the copy. I explained the maintenance agreement, as agreed with the DHO- that of an increased budget when the hostel is built and he said that was no problem, the Parent’s committee would deal with the maintenance etc. The girls already give 300 MK for rent in houses and 200 MK for using classrooms. I made a strong point that any increase in student fee would defeat the purpose, as they may not be able to use it. We met the assistant head too, a bit older.
    Back to base; John had a baby named after him – Harrison.
    We were escorted by Mateus (chief driver of the eranger) and Shadrick, two of the brightest young men I met, and they took us to an orphan house, as I had requested. Although, as there is a grandmother for the 4 children, it doesn’t rank as such, and therefore does not qualify for the orphan grant. The children and grandmother live in one small house. Inside, the small area there was a mosquito net folded and some straw mats and just a few belongings in one corner. The blankets were out on the line. It seems that as they are all so inter-connected, there often is some kind of relative around, but with no father, there is no-one to build a house. In this case the father was still alive but considered “mad”. However, the inside looked clean and there were no smells. The children outside the house looked dirty with dirty clothes. They were not at school, but I was told they do go sometimes. I was talking to another lady who appeared to help them.

    I talked to John about the orphans. He said there were no more than 4 orphan families and I asked if these were headed by the oldest orphan. I also asked for a list of the poorest families as used for distribution of blankets recently. I am not sure if I was shown this. John says, and the longer I was there, I could see his point, that the best way to help the orphans is to raise the general standard for everyone as we are doing with boreholes and sanitation and education etc. In other words it’s not just a case of seeking out the orphans and giving aid, where do you begin and end and does this cause dissatisfaction with others. On the way, we had passed other children (not looking great either) who obviously were not at school and Mateus asked the father why – the reply was because they had no pens, but Mateus said that was just an excuse.

    The church
    We were taken into the church and saw bales of tobacco stored against the wall. This was given to the church for them to sell for cash. Very nice inside; we were told they now had 240 members in the church and shown a list of the names.
    We wandered back to the main path and came across a game set up called Boa. Basically there are areas scooped out of the earth, say 3”x3”, in which pebbles are scattered. The game is fascinating and complexx – very popular amongst the men; they can gamble with it.
    Bicycle renting
    I had an idea, which I put to the 2 lads. I reckoned that in my talks, different groups had asked for bicycles for the purpose of dissemination of information. So I said, would it work if we, CCS, sponsored just a few bikes, initially and these were held in the centre, locked and carrying unique identification and looked after by someone “important” in the village. Anyone who wanted a bicycle for a half or full day, should request from bike-keeper and maybe pay a few kwacha and have their name and details put in a book. After bandying it around for a bit, they agreed that it might work.

    This way, we could satisfy all the requests and keep an eye on the bikes. I also put the idea to John later and he seemed to think it might work.

    Office and website
    I brought up the website on the lap-top from my memory stick and showed it to John – including all recent pictures and those of the lunches. We thought we would show it in the hall that evening to some people. However, there was not enough power to operate the projector, so that plan failed. However, in the afternoon I showed it to Francis; gave him a tour of the whole website and he was very impressed. He came up with recommendations – in the Introduction I should put in a photo of Phil (actually the whole Introduction is out of date); also I should update “crops” and enter conservation farming.

    I think I must add that the best care is not taken of the computers. The main computer had a virus and the CD drive had been broken. I picked up a virus when putting my memory stick into another lap-top. They have no anti-virus software. It seems when one computer “breaks down” they just move on to another one (I think there are 3 there now). Also when the large UNICEF printer ran out of toner, they moved on to another printer. John was exasperated at this. Not in the way of fixing things.

    The fuel shortage is very bad. Francis came to house this evening to say good-bye. He had intended to invite us to his house for the evening, but his wife Rodere was at the funeral of the young girl who died from malaria. Apparently, her parents had left it too late to ask for the motorcycle ambulance and she did not survive. They are well aware of this late call, but don’t know what they can do about it.

    Incidentally, there had been a number of requests for the motorcycle ambulance while I was there.

    Saturday, 17th June
    We got up early and prepared to leave, having decided to stop off at Lake Malawi for a night on the way. John had managed to get fuel and was coming with us. It is rather unfortunate that we will miss the visit of Father Julian, who is coming for a celebration in his honour after having received recognition from the Pope. However, he is expected not to arrive till tomorrow and we would be gone then anyway for Sunday morning’s flight. We gather our short-term “family”, including Aleleyah and Kamwendo. Francis comes to say good-bye and we take photos. There ends a unique and wonderfully informative visit which has left a lasting impression on both Tony and I.
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