Friday, 17 July 2009

Malawi Summer Team - Amrit on Week no.1

Since coming to Chitakale we have learned four things:

  • Do not measure your strength with that of an African man - you will be annihilated.
  • Mixing cement is the funnest thing in the world.
  • Fried lettuce goes really well with Macaroni.
  • And there is nothing quite as exhilarating as a game of football whilst the beautiful African sun sets beyond the hills.
The people of Chitakale are wonderful. Never have we seen children so pleased to see us; upon arrival kids and adults alike burst into song and kept singing for quite a while, even after we had been led to our accommodation. There are twelve of us on the Quest-Team, including the two intrepid and fearless leaders, (these are not my words) Charlie and Richard. We are living in a four room building - three rooms with beds and one which serves as a kitchen. There are ants everywhere, but they are not a great concern to us; we will wage war on them when the time is right. And we will emerge victorious.

Meals are eaten in a grass hut outside of the main building, which has also turned into the "chill-out" area; people chat and play cards under the bright light of the headlamps we wear religiously after sunset at five o'clock.

There is no electricity in Chitakale. Showers are simple buckets of water to be poured over ones head, toilets are made of holes in the ground. Surely Darwin's theory of evolution must be wrong, or man-kind would have evolved into a species capable of "doing their business" whilst standing instead of crouching. Going to the loo has never been such hard work. Girls keep on complaining about aim being difficult - I do not understand what they are talking about.

We wake at 7 a.m with the sun drenching the courtyard in great-gold and blood-red rays, and the cry of the cockrel (who we have sworn to eat by the end of the trip). After a porridge breakfast we wander on-site and work in the blazing heat untill tea-time at ten, served by Ida and her savvies. After tea, work continues untill lunch at twelve, and then again untill four, when the boys go off for the daily, after-work football session.

We are building a school. It is to be a simple construcion - two rooms and a roof, but it will suffice; expectations here are not high - thank God! It is incredible how quickly progress is made. We work with a group of builders and the community of Chitakale - who, with our incredibly talented leaders (I don't know where these comments keep coming from...), instruct us in the art of cement mixing and brick laying. It is very satisfying to look at a days work and realize that one has built half a wall. Work is hard, but we are happy to be doing it. All in all, we are having a great time and feel privileged to be here.

To finish, a couple of interesting facts about our little group here:-
  • We have eaten 10 kg of rice in a week.-
  • Sotiris is being called the Hulk.
  • The Hulk can do five times as much work as everyone else together in half the time.-
  • Kaiky was first to draw blood.
  • Sophie has been crowned "Big Momma".
  • I have been appointed the role of "Big Bwana" - (Big Boss).
  • Charlie and Richard think they are awesome (and so do we).
  • Bella brought the kids a whole bag of toys!
  • Elise has yet to have her first bowel movement.
  • Miriam broke one of the walls we built.
  • There is a beard-growing contest on the run. Richard is in the lead, but I think I will catch up soon.

We will keep you up to date as to how the war on the ants goes.

Amrit Thind - 17th July 09

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