Wednesday 13 May 2009

Malawi GAP Team - Food, work and play, in that order!

*****Warning the following blog entry depicts scenes of killing animals and may not be suitable for readers of a sensitive disposition*****

After a particularly eventful but hilarious prank week, the group eagerly embraced secret friend week. Everyone showed off their ingenuity and gifts included a fire bolt broomstick with accompanying snitch, a tennis court, a full drum kit, poems, chocolate, banoffi pie, and of course more chocolate.

Whilst we were performing random acts of kindness for our fellow human folk, our feathered friends were not so lucky. Yes, this week we dispatched our two chickens, Harry and Hermione. Katherine and Baptiste performed the actual throat cutting, whilst the rest of the group stood back and watched in a mixture of awe, admiration and slight hysteria. Baptiste's decision to throw the lifeless and bloodied chicken head into a crowd of screaming girls didn't really help.

Katherine's swift wrist action was particularly effective, however as she let go of the (seemingly) lifeless body we witnessed an actual chicken running with its head cut off, as it back flipped into the rubbish pit. Any feelings of remorse or guilt were extinguished as we sat down later to a delectable meal of chicken, chapattis, rice and salsa.

On the work front we had an exceptionally busy week. Along with the usual leveling and painting around the site, the group ventured into the local surrounding schools, participating in life skills lessons and sports coaching. Being back in classrooms seemed to be too much for the elders of the group some of whom (Katherine and Sarah) had to be reprimanded by everyone's favourite teacher, Mary. All was forgiven though when the group whipped out a raucous rendition of Katy Perry's "Hot'N'Cold", always a crowd pleaser. The performance was a huge success, no doubt because of some people's temporary amnesia to the fact that they can't actually dance.

On Wednesday, the local youth group came round for an afternoon of mendazis (small fried dough balls), games and dancing. It was a roaring success and was followed by Charlie showing off her impressive poi skills and local kids Lamion and William very much upstaging us all on the secret friend drum kit. We are bereaved to report a lack of everyone's favourite game "Splat" from the afternoon's events, but there’s always a next time.

On Thursday afternoon we were invited to the house of our friend Mark to meet his family and see his home. Even a short walk around the local village bears resemblance to the Pied Piper. We tend not to mind though; in fact we're sure we'll find it hard to adjust to the general lack of roaring fans when we return home. Although the weather was somewhat tempestuous, a fun time was had by all. Mark's mother led a prayer, blessing the group and Mark showed us his home and spoke to us about his life and hopes for the future. One of Mark's neighbours allowed us to try wrapping her baby in a chitenga around our backs - the traditional Malawian way, which turned out to be harder than it looks! The afternoon ended with a sharing of sodas, and of course a song and dance session - would our day be complete without it, we think not. We are not yet disheartened by the fact that most African toddlers have more rhythm than all of us combined, we've in fact learned to just embrace it.

This week, groups of 2 have been going to the Quest bakery, just outside our home to bake the morning's bread, with everyone's favourite baker, Lucy. It is a talent we are yet to master, with Lucy often forming entire rows of rolls in the time it takes us to complete one individual roll, but hey, who's counting? This has, however been of no detriment to the taste factor, exemplified by the inhalation of hot peanut butter rolls every break time.

The feeding centre is still running smoothly, although the ladies have stopped asking us to recite Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes to the children. We take no offence at this, admitting it’s probably a good idea for all members of the group to get the actions down pat before we scar a generation of Malawians. As the project continues, it is nice for the group to get to know the kid's personalities much better, although we know we may have to restrain some from pulling a Madonna when we leave in 10 days.

Regular readers of our blog may have picked up on the fact that we are a group that likes to eat, often implementing a no judgment rule at meal times. Saturday morning was of course, no exception. Taking a devil may care attitude as our arteries were permanently blocked; we tucked into Katherine's Quesadillas of Joy- an intoxicating concoction of left over chapatti, marshmallow, peanut butter and chocolate.

There was unanimous agreement that Saturday's breakfast was a potentially divine experience.
This week the group has also begun to coach the sports teams of rival schools to varying degrees of success. On the netball front, some have struggled to come to grips with the no running rule, but then again that’s hardly essential. On the football front, many of the local kids have been showing us up with their skills, but none of them can claim to have an international player in their ranks (thanks Sinead!).
Whilst one group had a very successful training, complete with netball skirts and marked courts, the other group had slight issues with the netball hoops that had to be held above ground, making accurate shots that much more difficult. Nonetheless, there is already a healthy rivalry brewing, which is sure to come to an exciting head in the coming weeks.

As a lovely and civilized end to the week, the group was invited to Molly's Gran's house (Granny Dora) for a big Sunday lunch. Some of us particularly Charlie, were overwhelmed just at being inside a 'real' house with a beautifully set table, roaring log fire and everyone's favourite amenity - flushing toilets! Sylvia joined us for a scrumptious lunch of beef and chicken lasagna, salads, chocolate cake, custard meringue tart, mince pie biscuits, cream and ice-cream. It is safe to say that everyone was subtly unbuttoning the top button of their trousers to allow room for their 'food babies'. From the dining room, we waddled the five metres to the living room, where we drowsily relived our childhoods (or in Sarah's case, her childhood, adolescence and Uni years) through Disney's "The Lion King", "Hercules" and the beginnings of "Aladdin". We can all safely say it was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon and a perfect end to a perfect week!


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