I would like to start my blog by thanking everyone who is following us and those leaving messages. It is very encouraging to hear these messages when we are reading them in the evening, even if it does start us crying sometimes.
Today started, as usual, with 6:30am mass, (even I made it along this morning), before the group met for breakfast. We were lucky enough to present each of the form fours with a graduation gift since they completed their last exam yesterday and left this morning for home. Samuel and Robert (Bob) have agreed to stay back and spend some time with us before we go home which is great news for the group. My Malawian son, Felix, has also been allowed to join us for the last few days and I cannot tell you how happy this made me. I will enjoy every minute of this special time we have together. The group who travelled over, along with the boys who were previously in Scotland, make such a lovely group. Everyone has got on so well with each other and support each other with everything we do. Despite some very emotional times the sound of laughter, accompanied with tears of laughter, has been very prominent this week I am happy to say. I know some very strong bonds of friendship have been formed this week which will continued after our trip I am sure.
Today the organised activities involved the pupils and former pupils of St Benedict’s explaining a typical day for them to the boys of St Patrick’s, who in turn will write their typical day which we will bring home for the school. Jim and I had some time to ourselves during this period, and ‘no’, there was no gin or wine involved, well it was only 9am. Instead I sat in the glorious sunshine and read my book whilst enjoying the stillness of the day.
Just as well I conserved my energy early this morning as after break we went to ‘R U 2’ which is the local primary school where we were introduced to all the staff and pupils. I was not prepared to find the children sitting on the stone floors during their lessons, clutching their small bits of pencils and a few sheets of paper each. The alternative was chalk notes written on the stone floors. A very small number of students had desks although they were definitely in the minority. The class sizes were large and in some of them I counted over 80 students. I couldn’t believe how they were crammed into such a small space. How can teaching such a large number in such a confined space be comfortable? I suppose the answer is that it isn’t. In each class the children welcomed us and responded to our introductions in English, even the standard ones (primary 1).
We continued our visit with a sport’s day for the children. Showing the kids how to play Frisbee, golf, football and skipping with the numbers continually growing left us with what felt like a crowd control problem. The important thing however, the kids had a great time, each of them sporting huge smiles on their face. I think it would be fair to say it was a success.
After lunch we visited St Magdalena’s for the second time this week. We did some activities with the kids ranging from playing card games, reading stories and jigsaws to cricket, hopscotch and badminton. Each of the groups had an opportunity to take part in each of the activities. Our group of twelve kids that we started with very quickly became a group of thirty children as the local children came running to join in the fun. Again, their faces were beaming. Poor Sister Anesta though, we left her to calm some very hyper children. Everyone in the group left feeling warm- hearted and proud. It was most definitely an hour well spent.
I am only writing about the highlights of the day, I couldn’t possible tell you about everything we manage to cram into our daily routines. However, I will have to tell you about our last visit of the day. We were again very fortunate to be able to visit one of the local villages, Luwuwa. We were greeted by the people of the village with the women of the group singing traditional songs. We were hugely privileged and were given a tour of the some of their homes. The houses were built from red bricks which were made from the soil and left to dry in the heat of the sun. The end of our visit involved us presenting each of the families of the village with a parcel containing soap, sugar and salt. For those of you who were at the comedy night, I had to get it in somewhere, and now you all know I am not in Florida! We were also presented with a sack of groundnuts as a gift by the villagers. It was overwhelming how these people are so poor and yet still so warm and giving us gifts, their hospitality is truly unbelievable. Our developed country has a lot to learn.
The young people from the group are now with the boys in St Patrick’s again, teaching them drawing and singing. They are preparing the boys for our concert tomorrow by teaching them our Scottish songs so they can join in. We had a brief practice in the house tonight before they left and judging from this I can only hope I do not traumatise some of the poor boys in St Patrick’s. It will, however, make for interesting viewing if anyone should video the performance, which I hope they don’t. My dancing has already left me red faced this week. I should add at this point that the other adults are playing mathematical top trumps! It’s MATHEMATICS hour.
The final task of the night was to start to prepare our suitcases for our departure on Saturday to the lake. As much as I have missed my amazing friends and family, especially my son Connor and of course my puppy Kali, the thought of leaving this beautiful country is already tugging at my heart strings. I would gladly forgo all my commodities and be in this stunning country a while longer with such superb people. The lessons I have learned this week will stay with me for a lifetime. I feel so honoured to have had such an enriching experience.
To finish my blog, I would like to say a massive thank you to Bernadette whom, without her dedication, patience and kindness I would not have had this opportunity. It was great to see how highly thought of you were in every place we visited throughout the week. Keep spreading the word. The boy’s in St Patrick’s can never thank you enough, as is the case for any people lucky enough to have travelled with you both in the past and those who will be lucky enough to travel here in the future. Thank you!
I cannot leave without saying a huge thank you to the rest of the group I have travelled with. Each person has brought something different to our trip and made this journey an unforgettable one. Thank you each and every one of you.
Finally, to everyone reading the blog, please do not think that my bleating about Malawi is over. Now that I have seen the marvellous work done here I will continue to encourage you all to support this great cause and I am determined more people should know about us! I am sure you all cannot wait for the fun times of slideshows you will all be invited to, to view the 6 million or more photo’s we will return with!
I cannot end without saying thanks also to Father Daniel and Father Angels (my name sake) and all the priests we have met on our journey. There are too many to mention individually. Without them all this trip would not have been what it was! Tawonga chomene!
Malawi nicharo chakutowa (Malawi is a beautiful country)
P.S. To the parents who have trusted us ‘adults’ with your children we have been very vigilant! All this talk of wine and gin hour is of course exaggerated, as is the stories they have told about home whilst we have been here! Only God can Judge