You can never anticipate how many ways your plans can be thwarted. Â Today it isÂ deaths in the village and student riots in Blantyre, yesterday it was petrol.
Yesterday when I awoke and told my lovely wife I loved her, her affectionate replyÂ was âI want petrolâ. So while I met with the District Medical Officer in theÂ morning, Ruth, accompanied by Victor, one of the villagers who serves as ourÂ handyman out here, were on the search for petrol. Â They found it! Â When you ask herÂ where she got it? Â â If Â I tell you, Iâll have to shoot youâ Â Translationâ¦. fromÂ the Black Market well away from Mangochi. Â Petrol is again absent from the country.Â But we had a full tank! Â So off to work! Â It was not to be.
Today Florence, the HIV/AIDS outreach worker was to travel to the villages withÂ Ruth to hand out school uniforms. Â She called this AM to say that her Uncle hadÂ died in Dedza about 2 hours from here and she would be going to the funeral. Â ThisÂ was shortly after our night guard, Patrick, came back from his nearby village toÂ let is know that his 24 year old niece also died last night. Â He needed extra moneyÂ for the funeral arrangements.
To understand the impact of death, beyond the emotional trauma to the family, youÂ need to understand the ceremony that surrounds the death and burial of your family member or coworker. Â I think it impacts the gross national product of this country.
If your coworker dies, it is your employer along with the family who makes theÂ arrangements for the burial. Â The whole office or business shuts down. Â LargeÂ numbers of friends and coworkers gather at the deceasedâs home, women are inside,Â men are outside. Â From inside the house continuous wailing can usually be heardÂ (some from professional wailers). Â The men sitting outside are in small groupsÂ usually silent only speaking greetings when another arrives. Â Food is served toÂ all. Â In the Muslim community here,Â this is traditionally a 24 hour Â to a several day Â process . Â The Christians are aÂ bit faster. Â But funerals are a big part of daily life and they take a lot of time.
So if there would be abbreviated village visits this day, at least my friend inÂ Blantyre would be able to secure some additional car parts for the 1996 Subaru. WeÂ had it on consignment and were considering buying it from a good friend. Â We need aÂ shock absorber, Subaru spark plugs, and some rubber boot covers for the drive shaftÂ and steering column. Â At exorbitant costs (about 30-50% more expensive than in theÂ States) they were available from the dealer in Limbe, the town contiguous toÂ Blantyre. Â It was not to be.
The College Students were rioting and the road between Blantyre and Limbe wasÂ closed. Â They should have been rioting because of the Inspector General of theÂ Police had visited and Â questioned Â one of the political science faculty on why heÂ was discussing in class the recent events in Â Egypt. (The faculty took this one onÂ in a protest). Â The students were upset by the way the government was changing theÂ requirements and payback for student loans.
Our friend never made it to Subaru before having to return to Mangochi. Â So muchÂ for this plan! Â You always have to have a plan B and C and for safety D also and beÂ prepared that none of them will work.
It is hard to explain the difficulty of getting anything done in this country.Â Everyone complains about it, especially middle class Malawians. Â We see the humorÂ in itâ¦.government bureaucracy gone wild. Â There are many examples. Â Petrol and lackÂ of foreign exchange is just one. Â Upsetting a bunch of folks was the governmentsÂ decision to invalidate all passports, and issue new ones. Â Felix, the deputy atÂ MCV, had a passport good to 2015. . ..now no longer valid. Â They opened the officesÂ from 6 am to midnight. Â People started lining up a 4 am. Â It has been a mess.
The reason for this Felix suspects was the government needed the money Who knows??Â It has never been explained to anyoneâs satisfaction. Â And everyone who owns aÂ vehicle talks about the two day process to get it registered .only in the two majorÂ citiesâ¦and so it goes.
These and other stories make the success of the Â Malawi Childrenâs Village evenÂ more remarkable. Â Started by Malawians in 1997 with the help of a former PeaceÂ Corps Volunteer from the Mangochi area, it has assisted over 8000 orphans in the 37Â villages that surround the Center. The earliest orphans are now returning asÂ teachers, clinical officer, agriculture extension workers, physical therapists andÂ nurses.
They would never have had a chance. Â We personally know a dozen or more of theÂ graduates. Â They are wonderful young adults, making significant contributions toÂ their country. It is a testimony to the vision, tenacity and perseverance of theÂ Malawians who run MCV and the many individual contributors and USA Rotary clubsÂ who have madeÂ this happen.
Success does not get any better that this.