Monday 20 April 2009

Malawi GAP Team 1st Project Update - arrival and starting work

After a somewhat arduous 24hr journey, we finally arrived at the cowshed reminiscent Blantyre airport to begin our three month extravaganza! As we drove over all the bumps and potholes (many the width of the road itself!) into Pen Sulo, our village, we were greeted by a group of people singing and dancing to celebrate our arrival – one boy getting a little too overexcited and running smack into a tree…oops. On Saturday we had the big official welcoming ceremony complete with speeches, songs, plays and traditional dancers in rather scary feathered masks – our cultural contribution was to do the hokey kokey with the kids…Everyone is so friendly and welcoming here, we have kids with us wherever we go, we’re like Madonna without the court order. Saturday night was spent at our project partner Sylvia’s house, all of us very excited to able to use a real toilet! She very kindly invited us for dinner and drinks. This would be the first of no doubt many times to see one of our local contacts, Mary, a little bit sozzled!
Easter Sunday gave us our first taste of African religion and we all walked proudly to church in our new chitengas (sarongs) bought especially for us by our leaders Sarah and Charlie. We were shown round the secondary school by the Pastor and Smart, who told Sarah off for paying more attention to two mating bugs than the pastor! During the service we had to give a performance of Amazing Grace that we’d prepared but two minutes before. Unfortunately the church choir sang just before us and also sang Amazing Grace, putting our version slightly to shame. However, Becky Mole signing the visitor’s book “you can’t O.D on G.O.D.” went down as well as Jesus himself.

After topping up our spiritual reserves we headed to Mary’s house where she and the local youth group performed some skits, songs and a rap for us. A small child farting next to us half way through Mary’s seemingly made-up-on-the-spot song did knock our concentration slightly! We taught the youth group Splat and Wink Murder which went down a treat although a few people (i.e. Sophie!) got a bit too into it and scared all of us with her splat tenacity!

During the week we’ve been hard at work on the doctors accommodation that we’re building – it’s pretty darn tough although helping out at the orphan feeding centre seems to be tougher! By Friday we had built all the walls and everyone is surprised at how fast it’s going. We are all brick laying pros now although there have been a few frog-shaped causalities when we’ve been wielding our cement mixing shovels!

Other events in our first week include building a massive sofa out of ladders and mattresses for Amber’s birthday, replacing Amber’s deceased mug Humphrey with the aid of gaffa tape and Becky Mole’s dual stream…Alas a lot of people have been struck down in their prime with a wee vomming bug this week, nowhere has been safe and at the time of writing Sarah and Charlie are the only ones that have remained unscathed! Don’t go worrying though, everyone was back on form to enjoy the local cuisine.

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