First weekend

9 08 2008

This was the part I was worried about before I left as I thought that the weekends might be very long if the family did not speak english and especially this first weekend as the Monday was a national holiday too. As it turns out I had a brilliant time – as I did the whole time – and was kept very busy!

Myself, the male volunteer teacher in St4, who basically was my translator and companion most of the time, my host mother and the deputy head teacher’s wife walked to Mayani which was the nearest town and was described as a trading centre.  I had passed through it in the land rover on my way to the village and it was quite quiet during the week.  Not so at the weekend!

ground maize

ground maize

It took us an hour and a half to walk and I had been told that it was about 10km to get there and I guess that is about right because despite a lot of uphill I walked at my usual very fast pace and knackered everyone I was with.  They could not believe the pace I was going at and although I did try to slow down I am not very good at that!  It did not seem like it took an hour and a half as there was so much to see and obviously there were a lot of people looking at me as we went through tiny villages!

bikes could carry a lot!

bikes could carry a lot!

I had taken a wind up mobile phone charger with me but it was useless so I needed to recharge my phones (I had my samsung with my UK simcard and my old motorola with a Malawi simcard).  Mr Kaunda (the teacher)  took me to a barber’s stall when we got there and we put them both in.  I was a bit apprehensive about putting both in but of course it was fine and I now wish I had put in my video camera as well as that ran out well before the end of my time in the village!  They were charging for a couple of hours first and it only cost about 20p!

While there I tried to buy newspapers so that I could then pass them round the village but even by the time we left at about 1pm they had not arrived from Dedza yet!  The whole place was heaving and there was quite a large market which we went into and very surreally I was helping Mr Kaunda pick out new shirts and shoes!  That was one of those ‘I can’t believe I am actually here and doing this’ moments – in a good way!

in the market

in the market

We spent a lot of time just hanging around, partly as it is what they do, we were waiting on my host mother and we were waiting on my phones.  I found this very strange as I am so not used to sitting and doing nothing!  It was no bad thing though as there was loads to watch and it will have done me good to have chill out time!  We met Lameck, the boy I ran with lots, and that was good as he was such a nice person to spend time with and he became a good friend.  He also took me to see the secondary school in Mayani which was quite different to the primary schools but then you have to pay for secondary school education.

Mayani day secondary school

Mayani day secondary school

 

my host mother and the deputy head's wife carrying their shopping home

my host mother and the deputy head's wife carrying their shopping home

My host mother and her daughter took me to wash my clothes in the river in the afternoon.  Nowa and his pals (they were inseperable) came with us and they had a great time as they just stripped off and played in the water.  I gave the women (and the various other teenagers there also washing clothes) a right laugh as they thought I was so bad at washing the clothes.  No-one was there to translate and I thought I was doing okay but they obviously didn’t and basically rewashed everything I had tried to wash!  I did get a bit worried about seeing my techinical running kit being bashed off a stone!

My host mother's daughter, Mercy, re-washing my clothes

My host mother's daughter, Mercy, re-washing my clothes

I then had the bubbles out again and ran again – various boys from the football team were waiting on me and loads of us ended up running around what were basically peoples gardens I thought!  There was a lot of running around on long grass which was hard, hard work.  I always felt like a bit of a fraud running as I was huffing and puffing with the altitude and they must have thought I was very unfit!

I got fish for dinner tonight for the first time, it was tasty but very bony and of course had the heads and tails on it!

On the Sunday I knew I would be going to church but could not get a time sorted – I was never very good at not being ruled by my watch!  I got snap out for the first time and after bubbles this was the most successful thing that I took.  I didn’t quite get bored of it by the time I left as it was just so nice to play with them but lets say I don’t feel the need to ever play it again ( until I go again next year of course!)

playing snap

playing snap

I went to do some work at school since it did not appear church was starting anytime soon and of course I was followed by Nowa and some of his pals.  They just contentedly sat and watched me and practised saying my name and tried to get me to learn their names.  I was always called Caro or Carol as there was no way they could manage Caroline.  After a while they left and then some of the older ones from the football team came and did the exact same thing!

Church eventually started at 11am and lasted 2 hours 20 mins! Actually despite it all being in Chichewa it did not seem as if it lasted that long, probably as it was broken up with so much singing.  The only thing was sitting on a wooden seat for that long!  I had to get up and speak and it was translated for me, you are expected to go on for quite a while but there was a limit to what I could think of to say! 

singing in church

singing in church

I went up to visit people in another village in the afternoon and my headteacher met us there.  They were very nice and loads of kids came out to play with the bubbles I had brought.  I got very attached to one boy of about 2 who was right beside me all the time, let me spin him around etc and then when we were leaving he walked me up the road hand in hand.  I was crying with laughter several times today and that happened to me all the time while staying in the village – it was great!

my little friend

my little friend

On Monday morning, it being a holiday, Mr Kaunda and Mme Gwengwe took me up a nearby hill to see the views of the village and have a picnic.  Again this was me being made to sit and do nothing which was probably a good thing for me!  The picnic consisted of potatoes and the scones with honey that someone in the village had made and then kind-of-dried maize on the cob which I can’t say I found that appetising!

myself and Mme Gwengwe

myself and Mme Gwengwe

I worked in the school for four hours in the afternoon.  As a way to try and get the learners to come on time I was preparing flip chart sheets for each class with everyones names on them and dates for them to tick if they arrived before assembly started.  I would then get the parachute that I had brought out at the end of the week for all of the pupils that came on time all week.  I did try to keep saying to the teachers that they had to come on time as well to be role models and since there was no point in the pupils coming on time if the teachers were not there.

 

punctuality sheets

punctuality sheets

One of the St7 boys came in and watched me for a bit and then ended up helping me all afternoon without much conversation as english was limited!  He was lovely and we ended up hanging out loads as he was keen to help me, learn loads and try out his english as time went on.  By the end of my time there he was telling me he wanted to come back to Scotland with me!  I found it so refreshing that children, particularly boys, could be friendly, polite, helpful and great fun to hang out with as it was such a difference to the attitudes of pupils I was used to in Scotland.  Also bizarre that all of these boys would be playing football one minute and in church practising with the choir the next.

Patrick, the kid who helped me loads.  (He was wearing a girls jacket while doing scottish dancing for some reason!)

Patrick, the kid who helped me loads. (He was wearing a girls jacket while doing scottish dancing for some reason!)

Running, bubbles and snap again to finish off the day, I was getting into quite a routine!