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October 27, 2012 Day to Day 0 Comments

Call for Donations

I am beginning to think about the Christmas package to our girls in Malawi.  Presently we are caring for 10 girls.  Also, I like to send items for Azikiwe and his family and our 2 cooks.

The following items would be greatly appreciated:

  • New white socks for girls
  • New underwear sizes small – large for girls
  • Short sleeved T-shirts sized small – large for girls
  • Training bras for girls aged 11-14
  • Solar calculators for use by grades 6 to 10
  • Pens, pencils, erasers and pencil sharpeners
  • Lip balm or flavoured chap stick
  • A few summer outfits for a 1 year old baby girl.
  • A few T shirts for a 5 year old boy

And cash is always a great donation.

For details, please email me at jennifer@itatuorphancare.com

Thanks everyone for your continued support.

October 21, 2012 Day to Day 0 Comments

I Give You Good Price

Mini-buses feature prominently not only in my posts but in my life in Malawi.  Without a car of one’s own this is the main form of transportation.  As I have written, a mini-bus trip is always an adventure.  To add to the adventure is life just outside the bus.

The mini-buses do not run on a schedule, rather they depart the depot when they are full.  As I have said, full in Malawi is far different than full in Canada.  I have become quite skilled at estimating a mini-bus’ time of departure.  Being impatient I have also learned that although an empty bus gives me my pick of seats, it’s best to squeeze onto a bus that is already loaded with people and goods.  Once on the mini-bus it is common to wait at least an hour before departure when traveling outside of Lilongwe.  I remember my first trip from Lilongwe to Salima.  I had to stand on the coach as there were no seats left.  I stood for 45 minutes before we even left the depot and I was furious.  I now know that wasn’t such a long wait after all.  Once I waited 2 1/2 hours on a mini-bus before leaving for Ntcheu.

On this last journey to Salima I boarded a mini-bus with 4 people already seated. As I waited for other passengers to board I had a clear view of the goings on in the depot.  It is actually a perfect vantage point from which to observe as it is safe and you can just sit and watch without having to move on or be afraid of being pick-pocketed.  I sat back and enjoyed the show.

In the depot young men wander around laden with goods for sale.  If you stay on the mini-bus long enough you will surely find whatever you need.  Being a Mzungu the vendors will approach me quite aggressively trying to get me to buy their items.  Oh and the items they will offer to sell! Of course there are the typical and expected items, which include pop, doughnuts, buns, candy, water boiled eggs and ice cream.  I have yet to learn what this ice cream is that they sell.  Obviously it’s not ice cream.  It would melt.

Aside from the food one can buy while waiting there are a plethora of other goods.  While I waited to leave for Salima I was offered pirated DVDs of Nigerian, Chinese and American movies.  A DVD usually has a few movies on it and will cost about $4.  A CD of of music by Malawian, Zambian or South African artists may cost about $5.  If I needed a charger for my phone, this would be the place to buy it.  I might also want batteries which would quickly be offered to me.  If I needed a portable radio I could easily obtain one here for about $20.

Aside from electronics I was offered art, clothing, toiletries and household items.  Vendors will display holographic type pictures of Hello Kitty, Bob Marley, Kung Fu stars, angels and of course, Jesus.    Clothing can also be purchased.  Men can buy shirts, suit jackets and belts as well as shoes.  Unfortunately women must go to the market or a shop to buy their clothing. At the mini-bus she can really only buy a scarf.  If one needs spoons they can be purchased from a vendor at the mini-bus window for the low cost of 5 cents a piece. Dish towels, doilies and runners for tables are available to the patient shopper.   Mirrors, brushes toothpaste and razors are all available for a good price.

All in all waiting on the mini-bus is like having a personal shopper.  Unfortunately most of the items sold are junk and will either not work or will break within weeks of purchase but the price is right and for me, the entertainment value is priceless.

 

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October 7, 2012 Day to Day 0 Comments

Thankful

Traveling to Malawi always reminds me of the many things I have to be thankful for.  Living in Canada we often lose sight of how fortunate we are and my frequent visits to a developing country are always a great reminder.

I am grateful for those things that we often take for granted like clean water, electricity and safe food.  In Malawi the water is often switched off at the source for maintenance or conservation.  It is most definitely not safe to drink.  Even those living in the city will not drink the water in the villages.

I am grateful for our health care system.  When I returned in August I was quite sick and I was able to see a trained medical  doctor several times.  I was given a variety of tests and finally some powerful medication.  If I’d been that sick in Malawi I would have seen a kind-hearted medical officer who had 2 years of training most likely in Malawi.  I would have been given a blood test for malaria and likely a generic antibiotic to treat whatever was wrong.  I would have paid about $7 for the clinic visit and the medication.

I am grateful for technology and friends who like to stay up late.  During my last two weeks in Malawi I discovered that I could use iMessage on my iPhone to text for free to my friends in the US and Canada.  This was a real treat as it allowed me to share thoughts and experiences with friends here in a way that felt like we were only minutes apart, not hours.

I am grateful for those people who supported me through my challenging times.  When my bag was stolen I was terrified and angry.  I felt like turning around and coming home and I likely would have if my credit card hadn’t been one of the stolen items.  Reading the posts and seeing the donations on the Indiegogo site I was touched.  So many people, I’d never even met were concerned and supportive.  This gave me a renewed faith in the kindness of people and I will hold that with me as I venture forward with my work.

I am grateful for my friends in Malawi.  They truly want what is best for me.  When I am in the presence os Simon, Kalirani, tamiwe, Denis, Almakio, Florence or Azikiwe I know that I am loved and protected.  My friends try to make my experience as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.  They offer guidance, support and warmth even when I don’t know it is needed.  These are true friends who do not love me for my money or for the prestige I bring to them.  They love me because we are true friends.  Without these wonderful people I could not stay in Malawi.  I hope they all know how much their support means to me.

Of course I am grateful for the support we can offer to our girls.  Without the food and clothing we give to them they would be languishing in the village with no hope of a future.  I feel honoured to be able to help them.  People often praise me or thank me for what I am doing in Malawi.  When I hear such comments I always feel guilty.  I love going to malawi.  I love seeing the girls and knowing that we are helping them.  I feel as if what I am doing is selfish.  I love the adventure and the experiences I have there.  No one should thank me, I should thank them for allowing me the opportunity.

Finally I am thankful for the safe, easy life I live here in Toronto.  It is so much different than the life people lead in Malawi.