Friday, July 4, 2008

Africa, cont...

Friday, July 4, 2008

It's Independence Day! On July 4, 1992 I was in London. Today, I'm in Africa. Those are the only 2 times I haven't been home for the July 4 festivities (oh, I suppose I was in Memphis for one July 4).

The drive here to Tiyamike was VERY long and VERY scary! The driver of our bus seemed concerned about the brakes. I don't know if he was worried they'd give out, or if he was trying to conserve them, but on the very steep downhill slopes he down shifted into 2nd gear to keep our speed down. He kept talking to his friends (2 guys who came to keep him company) in their native language (Chichewa), and motioning to the waning signs, pointing to the curvy road ahead, and wiping his brow. Very scary!

But...we made it!

When we pulled into the orphanage, the kids ran to meet us. Several of the children called out, "Is Cole here?" Cole is a young man who made the trip two years ago and he was well loved. Two of the girls ran up to Gia and hugged her and told her how much they had missed her. Gia was crying and hugging the girls. It was incredibly sweet.

We had stopped on the way here to have peanut butter sandwiches, but Will and Pam (they run this orphanage) had lunch saved for us. They served nsima and beans - which we ate with our hands. The beans were delicious.

We spent the afternoon playing with kids and babies - bubbles and Frisbees. The guys played football (soccer) and scored 2 goals to the other team's 4. For dinner we had nsima, Soya, and cabbage. Again, we ate with our hands, as there is not enough money to purchase utensils. The food was very good, although I'm missing fruit :)

I didn't sleep well - too many voices.

It's hot here!

July 5, 2008

Woke up yesterday morning to find that Gia wasn't feeling well. She "slept" on a small wicker couch and she didn't get much sleep at all. She woke up with a sore throat and swollen glands in her neck. Luckily, Catherine has enough Cipro to go around. Burke has the same symptoms and is also taking Cipro.

So.... I stayed in with Gia for a while in the morning. It turned out that was a good thing as breakfast was apparently awful! Gia and I had peanut butter and jelly on toast. Thankfully, Gia felt better by about 9:00 and we were able to join the group. We spent the morning cleaning, loving babies, etc... For lunch - nsima and beans.

After lunch the boys played soccer and the girls made bracelets, colored pictures, and played with stickers with the younger kids and older girls. The kids were again so appreciative.

In the afternoon, after the soccer game, we walked into "town" for sodas and snacks. The "town" consists of 6 or 8 run-down buildings lining a dirty, dusty road. It seriously resembles a turn of the (last) century old west town.

After returning to the orphanage Pam asked the girls to take turns through the night caring for 2 newborns. Catherine and I had the first shift - from 8-10. The downside of that was we missed the evening program, which included a dance-off that we heard was amazing.

Catherine and I took quick showers (yes, I said showers). The water was cold, but Bangula was incredibly hot and dusty, so the cold shower was fabulous! We missed dinner, but we decided we would grab a quick PB&J sandwich. We were in a huge hurry and I nearly snapped when I walked into our room after the shower and found the girls - who had just had dinner - hovering around the bread and peanut butter, eating like scavengers. Catherine and I got no dinner, had a tough few hours ahead of us, and I just wanted to eat a quick sandwich and get to the nursery. I know it doesn't sound like much, but at the moment it was a big deal.

I was pretty much awake all night long what with helping with the babies and then listening to the girls coming and going all night long. Even though it wasn't my shift, I sat with Gia and Bonnie for the 2-4am shift. We laughed a lot and it was such fun watching these girls with the babies! Jeffrey was three months old and fat and charming. He smiled and "talked" and laughed virtually every moment he was awake. Charity was three weeks old and tiny and precious. She was gorgeous.

The girls are exhausted today, but the night was well spent.

We're back now at Chiwaya Village. It's so nice to be back where it's cooler. The accommodations here are difficult, but so much better than Bangula. There we ate with our hands, here we have small, broken, flimsy spoons...much appreciated spoons. Here we squat over a hole, but in Bangula the outhouses are filthy and stinky and awful...and full. The weather is cooler here and we don't have to deal with bus and mosquitoes. I got lots of bug bites down in Bangula. There the nsima was well peppered with dirt. Here we have Yohanni's awesome clean nsima :)

There is a bit of drama going on now...boys picking on girls. However, it's minor compared to what it could have been over the past couple of weeks! Tonight for dinner we are having pasta and meat sauce! Ground beef is called, "minced meat" here. Whenever Yohanni says, "minced meat", I think Mincemeat and I think "Thanksgiving" :)

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