After arriving this morning to great fanfare again... (there is this really great, really catchy Welcoming song that they sing,....and yes, the translation is coming tomorrow. Jane didn't have her glasses to write it down. you'll have to wait for the lyrics) we settled down under a large tree nearby by Kamenzi village, which is the Rev K's village. --the village/district/station/area name is kind of confusing for us. It seems to be intertwined. We did ask for a rough estimate of the people in Kamenzi and we are still waiting for an answer!
After barely escaping the van we shook hands with the singing and dancing women, singing and dancing to that great song, we met the village elders and sat down on some chairs while the adult literacy group sat down and the school children played hookey to watch the azungas. The teacher, Boniface, presented a typical lesson to the students (of all ages, including ourselves). The were breaking down words into syllables and then into letters; practising the sounds and the writing of the letters. Alimi gulani mbewa ku adimaki. Farmers sell seeds at the gov't market. They received gifts from Linda's church backhome, mostly school supplies for the teachers; some of the teaching material was Bible stories, which the people requested; some sustainable development stories; others were just about average village life. The one astounding fact was that in this past year, the 10th in its operation there were a total of 1,000+ women attending literacy classes. Only 80 men decided it was in their interest to do so. The reasons vary, but one conclusion is that the men don't like to be shown up, or since they think they know everything, they don't need to learn. I say "think!? we know everything!----yes. osakutiwila" (i'm not married). Again, another promising step in what we've set out to witness.
And off to Rev. K's house where we dined on Nsima, rice, chicken, and what Jeff and Jae agreed was goat, which was delicious again. After lunch, we headed out to the Malaria Control session where once more, we were greeted with singing and dancing. Jane, our connection with NRD, told us that the women were much less shy and were more forthcoming in their singing and dancing, which could have surprised me yesterday. One of the women volunteers who teaches other women about Malaria Control got up infront and explained what they have done and what they do. It is basically a four step approach: an analogy for new hope. kristen, 4 months pregnant, goes to the clinic to get her SP (i believe it's called that) shot. Then in July, 7 months preggers at that time, goes to get another one. Meanwhile, on the first visit to the clinic she has been given a bed net that has been treated, making it good for 6 months. and Kristen dutifully checks Ava (since she's under 5 years) for any symptoms. If she sees some, she goes to the clinic within 24 hrs.
I think that the best part of it was the song that accompanied the information. Their songs tell each other the information that they've learned, and what they can do. I imagined that when they put their finger up in the air to point out something, that it was actually a mosquito they were pointing at and that they were warning everyone; I was wrong.
We then went to a couple of houses with one of them being pregnant and the other having delivered recently. They went on to discuss how they got the nets, the shots, the information and that they also spread the information to their and with their neighbours. It seems to be a fairly common pattern to disseminate the information. They gather a few people from different areas, teach them, and let them go back home to teach others around them. And it seems to be working well....if the government had enough nets.
After saying our goodbyes we left for Rev K's house for a kuppa. There was Jeff showing photos of Solly to the children and Jae taking photos of Shayleen (sp?), the Rev's daughter who is supercute, after playing pickaboo with her.
And as we were set to head home, we looked around and could not find Jeff. I thought he had been eaten by a lion. Why not? It's possible. He was, however, playing football with kids who, by the sounds of it were more talented than him in that a) they didn't kick off their sandals when kicking the ball and b) almost pulled off a bicycle kick.
Driving through the villages on the way out, you can see in people's eyes the 'white' look. Of course, it's hard to keep inconspicuous when you've a handful of kids screaming whitey and running after the van. Malawi, or Kamenzi would not head my list for safehouses in case I needed to go into witness protection.
Two side notes: There were almost (and i counted) a gazillion kids at each of our meetings. It's hard to fathom what that will do to the country in a few years, what cost that will take, etc.
the last is that it is hard to escape the notion/idea/fact of death here. Since going to the villages, I believe (so, in the past two days) I think that I have counted three funerals that people have attended. One, unfortunately, will be tomorrow for Hanna's nephew; the human cost of suffering.
Tselani bwino. Stay well.