Today has undoubtedly been one of our busiest days since arriving in Malawi and it is also our last day in the seminary.
Once again we were woken up at 5am by the sound of bells ringing and cockerels. Ms McFadden (aka St Bernadette as the Malawians prefer to call her, much to our amusement) had told the group to try and get a good sleep the night before. However, most of us had difficulties doing so due to the sound of the wind battering against the corrugated iron roof of the house. After another “eco-friendly” refreshing shower we were up and out for mass at 6.30am.
Before we came on the trip we were all feeling uneasy about having to go to church twice a day, every day. Yet I think I can speak for the majority of the group in saying that we enjoy it. Mass is much more joyful and the songs they sing are so infectious that we all find ourselves singing and participating without even realising. Ryan done a reading this morning which received a great response from the boys.
Following morning mass we had yet another interesting breakfast of potatoes and bread then prepared for the days events.
Today we were going to visit the local school for the disabled. I was feeling apprehensive due to the fact that I didn’t know what condition the children would be in. As we entered the school and first looked at the pupils seated on mats on the ground
Most of the children had at least one of their limbs amputated and others had learning difficulties. Despite this, we were greeted by smiles, clapping and of course singing. As we sat down with the children they sang “Our visitors have been sent from God to help us. We are happy to see you here”. This touched all of our hearts. Although the children in the disabled school experience difficulties daily, they show no signs of sorrow. The school is entirely sun by nuns who devote their lives to care and educate these children, free of charge. We were given a tour of the sleeping areas and school. It was shocking to see the horrific conditions that these children are living in all year round. They truly deserve better. Before leaving the school we presented them with gifts such as clothes, stationary and Luke also decided to donate his laptop. We gave each child a balloon and lollipop. Seeing the smiles and happiness of the kids receiving gifts is really rewarding. In Malawi, the smallest of things are appreciated and can make a great difference to their lives.
Next we visited the local primary school. We were warmly welcomed by the head teacher who showed us around the classrooms so that we could meet all of the staff and pupils. Whilst doing so we were following by an increasing number of small children desperate for a handshake or high-five. Some would look up at us smiling demanding “BALLOON!”. The students were all very friendly, eagerly asking questions about the purpose of our trip and life in Scotland. Whilst visiting the school each person in our group coordinated a different activity with the children. We began with only Standard 7 (Primary 7 equivalent) but eventually the whole school of around 400 – 600 people joined in and each of us were surrounded by a large group of children. It was a fantastic experience teaching so many people how to play a game that they had never done before. They were all so happy and excited. We gave the school stationary, sports equipment and toys. They were all very grateful.
We returned to the seminary and began some partnership activities with the boys after having our lunch. We tested their fitness levels so that it could be compared to Scottish people of their age. In addition we also carried out a survey in order to see how a Malawian teenager’s lifestyle differs to a Scottish teenager. Some of us also created a banner as a symbol of the partner between the schools which was later put up in their auditorium. It was a good afternoon which allowed us to get to know the boys a bit better.
This evening we had our last dinner in St Patrick’s. We ate outside in the darkness and we were also accompanied by four priests- Father Daniel, Father Chunda, Father Angels and Father Nasarius we ate rice, beans, chips, chicken and beef.
Since it is our final evening we also had a Scottish/Malawian concert in the school. Luke, Ryan and Matthew wore kilts which everyone found hilarious. It began with a performance by the school’s drama club. In true Malawian style there was also singing and dancing. The eleven of us also participated in the concert as we sang (or at least tried to sing) “Oh Flower of Scotland”, “Donald Where’s Yer Troosers” and the “Jeely Piece Song”. Another great part of the evening was the ceilidh dance that we taught St Patrick’s – The “Happy” Gordons. Each of us danced with one of the boys and everyone seemed to have a good time. We finished the concert by joining hands singing “Auld Lang Syne”.