After our weekend of relaxation at Lake Malawi, we journeyed to Liwonde Malawi to visit a variety of World Vision projects and a lot of children sponsored by Canadians at the World Vision Mposa Area Development Program. Liwonde is on the edge of Liwonde National Park in Malawi and is a wildlife reserve where safaris can be taken to view Hippos, crocodiles, elephants, etc. We are staying at a very interesting place called “Hippo View Lodge”, which is aptly named because it sits on the banks of the Shire river, which is full of Hippos, and they actually wander up the banks of the river and eat the grass on the grounds of the hotel. There are all kinds of signs around the property to “Beware of the Hippos”, and “Beware of the Crocodiles”. We are just about to venture out to see if any come on the property tonight, we can clearly hear them coming up out of the water and making a very loud grunting sound to one another and the night watchman assures us that they will come out after 10:00 to eat the grass on the grounds. Did you know that more people are killed by hippos than any other animal in Africa? Seems like a strange statistic, but most in the group agree that this is true. If you would like to have a look at where we are staying, have a look at this link – http://hippowviewlodge.com.
Visit to a primary school
Our first visit in the Mposa ADP is to a primary school where a group of some of the cutest little kids you have ever seen put on a show for us singing and dancing along with their teachers. If I can get a good connection tomorrow I am going to upload a video of this, the picture just doesn’t do this part any justice at all. Our access to the internet has been greatly reduced at this hotel, and we don’t really get any access at all until we go to the World Vision office in Liwonde.
The drive to the pre-school is kind of unbelievable. The following photograph shows you the caliber of “road” we are driving on to reach our destination. We are driving in a Toyota Land Cruiser configured with one front passenger seat and of course the driver (left-hand drive vehicle, they drive on the left here), and 2 bench seats facing each other where sometimes 6 to 8 of us are seated with backpacks, cases of bottled water, etc. It is the wildest ride you can imagine between getting used to someone driving on the left hand side, and the speeds they travel when we are on good highways (actually they travel fast enough on the paths as well)! As the photo shows, it isn’t much of a road at all and you are constantly meeting bicycle and pedestrian traffic as well as the odd ox cart which really presents a problem since they are kind of wide, generally full of bags of rice, and not really any place to turn off so we can pass. What can’t be easily described is the overall condition of the path (I’m going to stop calling it a road, I have seen ATV trails better than this), and just how incredibly bumpy and full of abrupt holes it is. Believe it or not we drive on this sort of thing for sometimes an hour to reach our destinations, our driver jokingly refers to this experience as an “African Massage”. We actually reached one place today where even the Land Cruiser couldn’t pass and required a 40 minute walk (it’s at least 36 degrees today) for one lucky couple.
The areas that we are driving through contains some sort of community farming project where a plot is given to a family and they grow rice alternated with corn. We passed field after field of men, women and children tending to these fields and actually harvesting and bagging rice. These people in this picture are standing in a rice field field actually harvesting rice. Don’t look too hard for harvesting equipment because there isn’t any, they are actually beating the rice stalks on the ground, by hand until the rice grains fall off, then they bag it by hand.
When we finally reached the pre-school we were treated to a demonstration of what the children were learning. They were so eager to sing their songs, some in Chichewa, and some in English, this teacher starts them learning English before they enter kindergarten. They were so animated and proud of what they knew, it was incredible! They did their “ABCs” for us and a few other very loud vocal exercises where they would yell out very loudly “Calendar – January, February, March…”, and also counting in English, all in perfect unison. I am really going to try to get this video uploaded, it was really something.
At this point the children came outside, some for play, others to demonstrate some of the other things they were learning. These children are as fascinated with us as all of the others have been, and just can’t get enough of getting their pictures taken. Sometimes you can cause a bit of chaos, if you happen to take a picture of one child, any number of others might rush in to get in the shot, and if you happen to show them the picture, then any kind of order the teachers are trying to establish is gone out the window, as they all come running in and crowding each other to get the smallest glimpse of themselves or someone they know on camera.
Actually, just before the little ones went outside, a few others were in the nap room getting rejuvenated!
They were only to eager to show us their playground equipment, actually this is the first I have ever seen anything like this since I have been in Malawi.
Here are a few of the classes that the children are participating in outside: the first group in the photo below are learning about drumming. When one of the World Vision guides starts singing some children’s song that they all seem to know, they all start drumming to it immediately, in perfect rhythm.
Here the children are learning about numbers…
I’m really not sure what they are doing here, perhaps learning to use an essential tool for pounding rice or corn into flour. It was pretty cute to watch, they were so proud of their abilities this this tool.
Here is a picture of the bathroom that all of the children used. This was not that uncommon, we have seen this sort of thing in our travels already, what was interesting was the hand washing “station”. Can you see the 2 upright pieces of bamboo with the bottle suspended? Have a look at the following picture for a closeup.
So the bottle is filled with water and is suspended between the 2 bamboo sticks with string. It is tied near the top of the bottle, so that when it is filled with water it would naturally rest right side up. There is another stick on the ground, this stick also has a string and is tied to the neck of the bottle. When a child wants to wash their hands, they step on the stick which forces the bottle to be turned upside down and the water will pour out over their hands. A couple of the children came and demonstrated this procedure with a level of pride that couldn’t be hidden – very cute and sad at the same time.
This is the room where the children’s lunch was prepared.
This lady is showing me how she dries the corn flour that is used to make their staple food, nsimas ( I think I am still getting this word wrong, definitely spelled it wrong in an early post). You see this activity played out constantly wherever you go. If you read my post about many of the children only getting rice at Christmas time, this is what they eat every day.
Here I am getting a bit of a demonstration on how they eat their nsimas. It looks like mashed potatoes, has a consistency that is a little more “rubbery” than that, and is very, very plain. They eat this, and pretty much only this every day, and you can see they are happy to have it.
Here are a couple of miscellaneous photos from around the preschool to end this post…