Today’s activities have been over shadowed by the very sad news we learned this morning: that my good friend Fr. Francis passed away during the night. One of the main reasons I came this year was to spend time with him as he has been gravely ill for the past couple of months. Francis has visited Scotland several times and he always came to stay with me for a couple of nights. I have very good memories of the time we spent together including the time I took him to Millport and it was his first time on a boat. He also was a regular visitor in St. Benedict’s and he spoke to R.E. classes about life in Malawi. It was on one of his trips to Scotland that he became very ill and was diagnosed with skin cancer. Glasgow diocese sponsored his treatment at the Beatson and he was fully recovered when he went back home. Unfortunately he had a relapse and there is no cancer treatment available in Malawi. Thank God I was able to see him briefly in hospital last Friday and he was very touched at my visit. Tomorrow we are attending his burial in Mzuzu. I take consolation in the fact that I am here for that.
We had assembly this morning at 6:45am and Christine spoke extremely well to the whole students about her visit. Afterwards I held my last marathon teaching session – 4 periods in a row. As i left the classroom students were running after me trying to get me to look at their work. I wish I could bottle their work ethic to take back to St. Benedict’s!
In the afternoon we went for a farewell party at St. Magdalena’s, the disabled boarding school. I thought Christine would have been in bits leaning the children but she is learning fast and really held it together well. It was my first chance to see them doing the activities that they’ve been doing with Christine all week. These kids really are exceptional and it was wonderful to watch how they overcome their disabilities. Two boys with 1 leg each were playing badminton very successfully. Another 2 who cant walk played tennis on the ground. As usual they were full of joy which makes it difficult to be sad. One of the lasting memories of this trip will be watching a boy with very limited mobility pushing 2 girls in a wheelchair from the church to St. Magdalena’s. The wheelchair only has 3 wheels so he had to balance it on 2 wheels. Christine is determined that the first project at Largs Academy will be to raise money for a new wheelchair.
As if our heartstrings hadn’t been tugged enough, we went straight from St. Magdalena’s to the village I visited with the group last year. Yet again we received a wonderful welcome from the village chief who showed us all around the village. This village is the poorest I’ve ever visited in the whole of Malawi but the people are so friendly and welcoming. We donated packets of soap, rice and sugar for every family.
It is hard to believe that our time in Rumphi is coming to an end although we have extended our stay by one day as the graduation has moved to Sunday due to the burial of Fr. Francis tomorrow.
p.s. Suzanne my iphone isn’t working so no I haven’t received your message.
My Malawian number is +265 882 602181