Our trip out nearly ended in excitement having barely begun. I’m accompanied on this visit with Nick Pashley a friend and trustee of the church and Max Baldwin a 19 year old in his gap year before starting university next year. Our journey to Zambia takes us via Johannesburg with BA and then on an international transfer with South African airways to Lilongwe in Malawi where Stephen, our man in Zambia, meets us and we drive a hundred plus miles to Chipata, our base, traversing two chaotic international border crossings. To my dismay I found Max had checked in overlooking the need to check baggage through to Lilongwe and hence he would need to check out of Johannesburg airport, retrieve his suitcases and then get back into the terminal, as Nick and I went the transit route which is relatively simple. I’m not certain, but while I was buying a couple of coffees, Nick was in deep prayer round the corner knowing my nerves were in shreds as I prepared to ring Max’s father to tell him I’d already lost his son and we hadn’t reached home base! I should never have doubted Max’s resolve to get through to us and as I was on the phone to his father, Nick’s email pinged and Max was trying to locate us at the coffee bar in the main terminal – whew.
The rest of our journey was uneventful. We arrived in Chipata in time to do a monster shop and had dinner at Mamarulas, where huge fillet steaks revived the team.
Day two, on reflection as I write the blog, has been one of the best days I’ve had on the project in the six years it’s been going. Started our visit at well 6 at Myzangulu where all is in good order. Were met by the key team of Philemon and Darka – crops are in even though the weather has been dreadfully hot. Then on to Myzangulu school to meet our long awaited teacher Mrs Phiri. The school was in full flow and in the couple of weeks she has been in charge the place is transformed. I confess I was a little emotional to see just what can be done in such a short space of time. There are 208 children enrolled and the future does look rosy – I will report more fully after my next visit. Well 7 is equally in really good order and the headman and his right hand man were in attendance.
Stephen then took us to a farm plot where Stanley Chulu’s uncle has started a major investment in ginger just because of our efforts at our wells. Stanley is one of our orphans. This is a major breakthrough for Zoe if we can get more guardians getting involved. On to well 4 and lo and behold there are encouraging signs that we might be witnessing progress. On our way to the The Chiefs village Manukwa again I was astonished to discover a flourishing garden project and stopped to find out who was in charge. This has raised my hopes for reestablishing action at well 1 which has been a disaster ever since we suffered the dreadful village headman who had discouraged the youth team here back in 2014. I will be following up this potential development during the visit. A brief visit to Wilson at the Hands Around The World skills centre finished us off, as by mid afternoon the sun was beating down and we were running out of both water and energy. One last gasp, money changed in town, an ice cream, BBQ supper and early to bed. What a great start!