Tag Archives: NGO

Madzuca Bwangi

Muli Bwangi! More specifically, madzuca bwangi (which means good morning, or literally, how are you waking up), to which you reply dazuca bwino, caen (I am waking up good, how about you?). I have also added some other words to my vocabulary…bongono “a little” (helpful when you are being served unidentifiable food!), gogongola “beautiful” (good to use when taking pictures of people), and momaconda “I like very much” (good when people ask you how you are finding Malawi.) In case you ever find yourself here, I just want you to be prepared…

We have been without wifi for a while which is why I have not written. Over the weekend we were out in the bush. A funny story along those lines…
We did a play for a Sunday school in Ntchisi, at the CCAP church (Church of Central Africa Presbyterian) there which is becoming a sister church with St. Andrews. Our story was about the anointing of David as king. It is told in the book of 1 Samuel, if you want to look it up, but basically Samuel, a prophet, goes to Jesse, the father of David, to anoint the next king because God has told him the king will come from one of Jesse’s sons. Jesse brings his 7 strong, big, powerful sons before Samuel, and each time God tells Samuel, this is not the one. Finally Samuel asks if there are any other sons. Yes, there is David, but he is out tending the sheep. Well, after the story is over we were quizzing the children, which is their custom, and the question was asked where David was. One of the children raised his hand and said “out in the bush, with the wild animals.” Somehow David out with the giraffes was a different image than I had in Sunday school! The end of the story? David is anointed as the next king and the moral is that God does not look on the outward appearance (strong, powerful…white, American…?) but on the heart.

The reason that we were in the bush for the weekend was to go visit the village of Nthondo, where the 600+ children are that St. Andrews people sponsor through World Vision. I got to meet my mom’s two sponsored children! Khokho is an orphan and came with the woman who cares for him. They walked over an hour to come to meet me. Rita came with her mother and father, and they live more than a three hour walk from where we met them!! It was really incredible to see the children gathered there, each one holding up a sign with the name of their sponsor on it. The World Vision sponsorship money goes for providing clean water, health education, food security, HIV/AIDS prevention and support/treatment (often the treatment in such a remote location is through herbal remedies that they have easy access to—garlic, aloe vera, ginger and other plant substances). I am really impressed with World Vision’s attempts to bring relief to the community as a whole, yet in a way that empowers the community and does not create dependence.

One of the things we have learned since being here is how much money comes into the countries through NGOs (Non-governmental Organizations) but how little of that money actually gets to the people in need. The common phrase is that the NGO’s have nice cars and nice buildings…and that somehow the money never trickles all the way down. The three organizations that we have visited with, Ministry of Hope (the Crisis Nursery and orphan centers), World Vision and Opportunity International (a microfinance institution that makes small loans to the poor so that they can start their own businesses—more on that in a minute!) seem to be examples of the money actually making it all the way to help those in need.

There are two other things that I cannot neglect when talking about our weekend—the Mbolebole Motel and the singing…

The Mbolebole is where we stayed so that we could be closer to Ntchisi and Nthondo. From Lilongwe (our base for the trip) it is about a hour (paved) drive to the Mbolebole and from there it is about another hour over BUMPY dirt roads to Ntchisi and another 45 minutes over BUMPY roads to Nthondo. How does one describe the Mbolebole without experiencing it? Don’t be deceived by the advertisements of “a fan in every room” or “hot water.” Yes, there was hot water at the Mbolebole, which I enjoyed our first morning there as the Mbolebole alarm clock (a rooster) woke me up at 5:30AM. Some who were later had cold water, and those who were even later had no water, as the amount that was in the tank (like a pila in Guasmo, Ecuador!) had run out and it would not refill again until that evening. I guess the rooster was not so bad after all. We did have flush toilets, which was more than I was expecting, but there were no seats. We did have a fan in our room, but it was a European plug (two round prongs) and the sockets here are British (three rectangular plugs). So, the first night we went fanless, humid and breezeless air trapped in the cobalt blue mosquito nights tucked tightly in around the mattress (though mine had large holes in it which makes one wonder about its effectiveness…). Silly Americans, for giving up so easily. I asked one of the workers at the motel if he could help us with our fan. He saw the problematic plug so he went to get a British plug power strip, which he could wedge the European plug into (good to know) but then the power strip would not plug in as the top prong of the socket was blocked. So, in an ingenious move that was reminiscent of things I saw the summer I lived in the Dominican Republic, he pulled the plug off the end of the wire, split the wires, and stuck them directly into the socket—sure enough, fresh air!

Aside from meeting Khokho and Rita, the most incredible part of the weekend was the singing. Imagine being on Broadway to see the Lion King. Imagine being in the front row when all of a sudden the entire cast bursts into song. That volume and beauty of singing is what greeted us when we arrived in Nthondo on Friday and continued at every stop along our journey. In church on Sunday the service began with each of the various choirs—there were about 6-8 of them, singing. I felt either like I was in a movie soundtrack, or in heaven, or perhaps a bit of both! After church we had a picnic at the manse (the pastor’s house) of the usual—seema, Chinese (which is what they call greens), rice, a tomato sauce, and various meat (I have become a temporary vegetarian!). After having lunch we went back into the church for a choir festival in which each of the choirs shared a song. At one point all the women from one of the mother’s choirs asked our women to join them singing and dancing, which we did, to their enjoyment or humor, I am not sure which! We do have video tape of the experience, which I may have to destroy!

It is time to go down for breakfast before our last day working with the kids. For now, tionanna (see you later).