Malawi: Raising the Roof

August 22

Today we went to the village of Matapila. The main road to the village was paved, but once we turned off, they were dirt roads; many of them unmarked. They seemed as twisty as New England roads and I wondered how Tsalka even knew where to go.

As I think about my Africa experience so far, I’m realizing the needs here are so much more than dresses.

We enter the village where we are greeted by more widows and children. You know what that means? More singing and dancing! A girl could get used to this! If I started each day like this I would be a happier lady for sure!

We unloaded our bucket supplies and assembled more Buckets of Hope. These were then distributed to the widows and child-headed families.

Buckets of Hope: sugar, salt, tea, cooking oil, Vaseline, soap and laundry soap

I enjoyed watching the children play on the playground at the MoH. Not too keen on the wooden slide (ouch!) but this is the first play structure I’ve seen here.

I also saw the children playing a quick game of soccer. In the dirt with no shoes using a ball they had made out of plastic and tape. These people are so resourceful!

We departed and picked up a few volunteers along the way. They are young men who are sponsored by the MoH (meaning their school fees are paid for by the MoH). In return, they do volunteer work for the ministry. Today we were repairing thatch roofs in the village.

While some of our guys worked with the locals laying the bamboo frame, the rest of us were busy pulling apart thin strips of recycled tires. These would be the threads that would tie the bundles of grass together. Later they would lay them on top of the roof.

See that pile of rubber strips in front of me? I think I found my calling.

A handful of children came by to watch. They just kept watching & giggling. While we sat there, I began to sing an African song that I had learned as a music education student. The kids caught on quickly and began to sing along. I realized my fingers could use a break from my work, so I grabbed a few stones, set them up in a circle and began to play the rock-passing game that went along with the song.

It became apparent to me why this rock-passing game would be such a hit here. There are no toys. But there are plenty of rocks and there’s plenty of singing (no lie, not a single African sings out of tune). These children were engaged in the game, playing independently, even after I resumed my work.

The village is high on a mountain top and the views are stunning. “I could live here,” I thought to myself. The well was a short walk down the hill from where we were working. It was a beautiful well with a washing station for the women to wash their clothes. I loved to see the children filling up the buckets and playing around the fresh, clean water. I knew it wasn’t available to everyone. They even allowed us to fill the buckets – one of my teammates  carried the bucket on her head up the hill back to the village. It’s not as easy as they make it look!

The men continued to work on the second house. And again, the rest of us found a crowd of children around us. They followed us on a hike up the mountain. No parents in sight. No need to ask their parents if they could come with us. Just beautiful children, their white teeth shining against their ebony skin, following a handful of strangers up the mountain. I found that astonishing.

We only completed two roofs that day, but Little Dresses for Africa paid for 12. So the work will continue long after we’re gone. We were treated to another Malawian dinner at the MoH center. More nsima, beans, cabbage & eggs. We took a tour of their gardens, which were even nicer than the last one we’d seen. Here they had an irrigation system set up. This garden would feed many people.

Random, but worth noting: On our ride home, we calculated the cost of gas. $8.50 per gallon. And we thought gas here was high.

We arrived home to a late dinner, around 9 p.m.  As I reflected on the day, I made a note of some of the needs I saw:

blankets (the nights get cold)
clothes
more playgrounds
trash removal
education
bicycles
clean water

I keep wondering how God can use me to help meet some of these needs?

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