Thursday, March 13, 2008
Time to Go
Lilongwe: Having survived the long (5hr drive) from Mzuzu to the capital city of Malawi, our team is preparing to depart for Johannesburg. Because of Chappy's condition, we decided to try to make a short transit connection in the airport and fly straight through to JFK rather than spend the night and do a sight-seeing day in Johannesburg.
I took Chappy to the Adventist Clinic this morning to get a doctor's signiture on the airline medical form certifying that he was "fit to travel" but required some assistance to get on and off the plane and to make the connection.
Because of time restraints, Chappy was moved to the front of the line to see the doctor. I was struck by the positive, cooperative attitude of the receptionist and nurses, and the understanding of other patients. Every in Malawi smiles back at you, without exception. The doctor was especially warm and friendly, helpful and empathetic. After a few tests and questions, he concluded that Chappy did not have malaria but some kind of intestinal bug that lots of liquid, antibiotics and rest would cure, gave his some meds and send us on our way. All for about $30. (What can I say, this just not happen in New Jersey).
I asked Dennis, "why are ALL Malawians warm and friendly? Why no social unrest, civil war, and tribal conflicts in Malawi? Why does Malawi have the reputation as the "warm heart of African?"
I guess I expected Dennis to say that Malawians were friendly because most were Christian, thanks to the successful missionary activity of David Livingstone and other missionary activities in Malawi in the 18th century. Instead, he explained that the ancient tribes that comprise contemporary Malawi believed that they were all children of the One Father, that they knew that all tribes were connected to each other and were able to get along, and that most Malawians were careful not to harm others. Long before Christianity, people were superstitious enough to fear what would happen to them if they harmed another, and thus had by nature happy hearts and friendly attitudes toward one and all.
Well, whatever the case, it was sad to leave the warm heart of Africa for the cold winter of the northeast United States where not everyone smiles.