Lots of walking!

3 09 2009

My next days in Malawi were Sat, Sun and Mon which was a public holiday as it was independance day.  This was strange, not going straight into the school and getting going with it.

I had been pretty lucky last year in terms of animals, particularly with having no ants really. So this year I did not buy any Doom (great ant spray) in Lilongwe and what happened….I woke up in the middle of the night on my first night covered in ants!

They were all over my face,  hair, neck and inside my ears (did you know ants make a noise, I didn’t until I heard and felt them inside my ears!) as well as all over my pillow.  I did not feel I could move or put a torch on as that would disturb the family so I just lay as snuggled down into my sleeping bag as possible as they did not seem to actually be in there and waited till morning, which was a long time coming!

It was disgusting in the morning seeing them all over my pillow, mattress and over the outside of my sleeping bag.  I am not known for being able to rough it (says the girl who climbed kili two weeks later with a severe lack of washing, sleeping or useable toilets)  and I had to show my host mother what the situation was like.  She put down some powder everywhere in the room and the living room and surprisingly I was not bothered by them in bed again!  Thank goodness!

So that combined with the emotional arrival and the sight of the kids the day before left me a bit emotional and teary again although I was pleased at finding something else I could cope with!  Lameck and I walked into Mayani, about 1 1/2 hours each way so that I could buy some more of the cloth to cover my skirts with like the woman in the village.

In the afternoon I got out two photograph albums I had brought with me – one had personal photos of me, my house, the flat from outside and going upstairs so they could understand that, family and Scotland as well as running again.  The other had lots of photos of Castlefield primary inlcuding sports day as we were going to do similar activities and other activities.

 The children (and the adults) loved them and would pore over them for hours.  Lameck had to translate everything for me, including me explaining things like I did not wear dresses like my wedding dress every day!

Looking at photos

Looking at photos

They asked to go running so we did that, just going round the football pitches but again after that I really struggled as it was getting dark and cold and some (most) of the kids were just in rags and obviously bare feet as well.  I just could not handle it.

After running

After running

On Sunday, as I expected, we went to church and I was not exactly surprised to be asked to get up and say a few words which one of the teachers translated for me.  Of course if I was struggling a lot the previous couple of days, hearing the wonderful singing before and after they were going on about how delighted the whole village was that I had come back and that I was so humble to do that etc etc well that just made me ten times worse!

Apart from being at church I was just with kids all day; playing snap, blowing bubbles, showing the photographs and also postcards of the cities, villages and animals etc in Scotland, and I also had tennis balls that I got out and let the kids just chuck about to each other.  It started off with me throwing them but they were much, much better than me.  I can’t stand cricket but I am sure some of them would be brilliant fielders (well I think that would be the position) or great baseball players!


Trying to keep warm!

Trying to keep warm!

I was asking the St1 teachers about their support for girls at the school, which is something the school gets very positive feedback about from inspections etc.  It is also very obvious just being in the school that the numbers between girls and boys are much more even than in a lot of other schools in Malawi/Africa.

She said that the female teachers try to offer support for the girls and encourage them to come to the teachers with any problems/questions/hassle from boys.  They try to encourage them to tell a teacher if a boy proposes (she did not qualify what it was he was proposing), wear trousers for physical education and wear underwear, although she did say that is expensive for them.

Ran with the pupils again, that would be about 100 of them – I counted!  They were all standing waiting for me and were so excited.  The big difference with this year is that they were right around me all of the time and not shy like at the beginning last year and I knew one full day in that I would not get much chance outside of school to get any work done!

For the holiday Lameck and I walked 1 3/4 hours to go and see Clare in her village.  It was reasuring to hear that Clare was feeling the same way and struggling a bit as well.  On the way back he asked me if it was true the rumour that had been going round there that Michael Jackson was originally black!

I spent the rest of the day playing with the kids, there is a bit of a theme starting here!  It was a bit tiring and I was still struggling a bit but I would not have had it any other way really as it was great that the children were getting attention from an adult and just had someone to play with them.  There were certainly plenty of them there!

Some of my favourites below (which I know you shouldn’t have):