30 May 2017

Final despatch. No 7. 29/30 May 2017.

Monday 29 May.

Sadly the end is in sight and it’s to Lilongwe, Johannesburg and home tomorrow. It’s been a hectic two weeks but I return home well satisfied the orphan initiative is on track, we make progress with the well projects and our involvement with the Mercers kindergarten and Myzangulu primary school are showing a worthwhile involvement.

Monday was a productive day tying up loose ends in Chipata city and closed with holding a social evening with some of our supporters and friends for a curry night in Zoe house. A wonderful classic Indian spread had been kindly put together by a Mrs Daya whose husband has always been there to help me with advice, loan of vehicles etc.

Tuesday 30 May.

The three volunteer teachers at Mercers

To be honest it was a relief to know my kidneys, neck, bottom and arms were facing their last day on the tracks to the village area. The day was scheduled to be a farewell day to Makasa village and site of well 3 and Mercers kindergarten. With mixed feelings I had been informed the chief had directed his ruling council were to attend and learn what a successful village looked like and meet me for a teach-in!  The visit started with the tedious protocols of exchanging niceties with the councillors who frankly I had not found as supportive of our endeavours as one would like. WELL, the children of Mercers got their attention in dramatic fashion. The children demonstrated their skills in reading, writing, counting and closed with a small play on Noah and the ark. When you realise these children certainly knew no English a year ago, had no idea of the alphabet or counting beyond one hand it simply bowled everyone over. We left the children being given second hand shoes I had taken out and redundant Wokingham Vineyard kids tee shirts.

It then got almost better when we escorted the councillors to the market garden and the ginger field. I demonstrated the yield of one plant and the cash value to the cooperative group who do the work. Astonishment is not a strong enough reaction, much shaking of heads and much muttering followed especially when I also explained the medicinal value to the children of crushed ginger added to our own harvested honey and hot water. On viewing the cabbage crop they could not comprehend that the quality and size of the cabbages was as a result of applying our own manufactured compost “what no expensive commercial fertiliser”. The cash yield from this one small field of cabbages would represent a large part of a villagers annual income which is estimated at $200.00 in the rural areas. I then made a big play of giving all the cooperative team the redundant WV youth tee shirts that Victoria had kindly given me.

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The student accommodation under construction.

The visit was wrapped up with viewing the small house under construction by the villagers in which I hope we can take gap year students or adults for that matter to learn about life at the sharp end of poverty and do things with the kids or other useful project work. It’s a great opportunity to sample life without running water, electricity or iPhones and iPads!!

The audience receiving words of wisdom from the council chairman.

The chairman then took the stand back in the classroom and gave a most rousing address to his fellow councillors, cooperative team and villagers. It really was inspiring and my chinyanja coped with most of it. Stephen and Headman Khunga were visibly moved as was I so I can only pray that the intransigence that has dogged us in certain parts of the kingdom will now be eradicated – I hold my breath.

The day was concluded with an excellent Zambian lunch which Mrs Khunga and the village women had cooked for over 70 people.

And so to bed, thank you for your prayers without which this project would flounder and see you all Sunday. God bless you all.

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