Stephen had set out at 5am to collect his daughter Natasha, from a top catholic girls boarding school a few miles out of town. Would you believe discharge for holidays started at 4am!! He then went to Magweru school to collect Yotam our deaf orphan boy and collected us on his way through town to commence our visit to the orphan families. Shortly after leaving the main road and negotiating a flooded stretch of track there was this heart rending noise from underneath the vehicle. Michael was straight under the vehicle and in no time at all, apart from moaning to Stephen that the 12mm socket was missing from the set(!) appeared with a twisted sump plate. Just a mile later we crossed our first serious obstacle this trip and waded the vehicle through a flooded river just short of our first call. On dropping hygiene supplies to Mercers kindergarten we enjoyed the children singing, including London Bridge has fallen down, and watched a little girl write the full alphabet on the blackboard unaided as the other forty or so in the class gyrated to songs in Nyanja, the local dialect. We were moved!!
We then travelled on to drop Yotam at his village and again were greatly affected by the amazing welcome he got on coming home after his first term away. His report and some written work was poured over by his mother and others who had gathered to welcome him home. The visits to four other villages were in vain as in every case whole communities, including little ones, are busy hoeing and planting their maize and ground nuts as the rains are truly in full flow. This is very frustrating but a fact of life at this time of year. On our return to town we visited Mr Jere at his farm with whom I and Stephen have had a relationship going back 3 years. This has been a source of vegetables and an annual maize harvest to help feed Stephen and his family. I have become disenchanted with his productivity and hence had the difficult task of terminating our agreement. Michael made a mean corn beef hash for supper and early to bed as the programme set for Saturday was going to test our resolve.
Mary Banda was our first port of call who is sponsored by David and Hannah Hubbard. She is a bright and cheerful soul who had just returned home from a youth group meeting at the local Baptist church so was in her finest frock.
Nearby is Emmanuel who is sponsored by Nick Pashley. An HIV casualty who is really flourishing and doing reasonably well at school. His guardian uncle is a real star worker and we are about to distribute a pair of goats from our breeding herd for Emmanuel. He has built a magnificent goat pen pending delivery.
Some miles away we caught up with Peggy and Lameck sponsored by the Gamblings and Perrings. Albertina was away visiting relatives. I reviewed their recent school reports where both children had scored high marks. Of course all the kids in the village gather round so much amusement when I complained that in both cases their worst marks were for Chewa, their local language, in pretty dreadful Chewa myself. Food and clothes delivered we moved to Kezias Tembo’s home. His uncle is our village tailor who makes all the school uniforms for all our orphans (160 uniforms a year). The Du Toits kindly sponsor Kezias and will be pleased to learn he is really flying at school. He looks after 5 of our goats – soon to be 6.
Our next port of call is always a difficult one. Kezias Nkoma lives with aged grandparents and their plight has always been of concern. Well, what do you know. They have moved into a much bigger house, leak resistant and in good condition. This Kezias is really bright and although HIV positive is doing well at school and has the nick name “director”. The sponsor is Michael Estorick who has been extremely generous to such an extent we regularly give the old folks clothes along with food. How these old folk survive is a mystery. The pictures reflect this visit in some detail.
Further down the road is Thomas and Sauso sponsored by the Mann family. Well, Sauso is a real character and while Thomas is at primary school Sauso is in the kindergarten school running everyone ragged. On meeting him this time he produced the most enormous horned beetle from his pocket, his pet for the time being but to be eaten later!! Their uncle/guardian suffers from epilepsy but is a great worker at the nearby well project.
Our final call for the day, again some muddy miles away, was Mathews and Libertina. They were only brought into the flock when Suzie and I were visiting in June. Libertina has serious health problems but with our assistance was in much better shape this time. Andrew MacKay is the kind sponsor of this family.
Whew, what a day. It was 90f when we got home pretty tired and thirsty – this castle lager is very good for the throat!! Sunday tomorrow, a day of rest, some golf and a mega BBQ unless it pours again.