Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Clare's Reflection on Zowe Village

We're all back safe and sound from Zowe Village. Here's is Claire's report to her sponsoring church--Central Presbyterian Church of Summit:

Hi all - greetings from Malawi!

This morning I'm sitting at the CitiHope Accountant's laptop banging away at church email. It seems a world away. Looking at emails about the $24k we're going to spend in the CE wing this summer makes me wonder how far that same relatively small cache of cash would go here. Surely it would build a school, a feeding center, a clinic, pay for 2 deep wells, the options go on & on. There is so much need here. And the inequities in our way of life and those of the people here seem unbridgeable. I have to constantly remind myself that our job is to bring hope when I see so little myself.

Yesterday we traveled 3 hours and 92km to the village of Zowe. Zowe is a grouping of 18 villages with 2250 people where CitiHope placed a well (thanks to some faithful CPC donors!) a couple of years back. It is much like an ADP in that there is a clinic - open one day a week and very ill supplied with medicines, etc. We brought a couple of plastic grocery bags full of ointments, over the counter medications, bandages and we doubled easily their available supplies - so sad!

All but 1 or 2 of the km traveled yesterday were on a dirt, rock, sand road. Amid the jostling, jarring ride we witnessed incredible scenery -rocky outcroppings, termite hills ten ft. tall and 12 ft in diameter, 8 ft. tall poinsettias, amazing trees and corn planted everywhere, along with millet (local beer anyone?), soy beans, etc.

When we got to the village of Zowe - we greeted the people, got a tour of the pharmacy, presented them with 2 soccer balls, and sat in their school getting our bearings. Then we went into a local house where we shared a picnic-style lunch amongst our group out of the eyes of villagers - it is hard to eat when folks with so little await your return.

After lunch part of our group went to scope out another well site several km away and some of us stayed to play with he kids. Elaine, a retired school teacher in our group and a great sport began a pick-up kick ball game. It was a delight! A lot of talk over rules of the game finally ceased so kids could just laugh and run and watch at least 3 grey haired folks (me included) play with them. I don't think adults in their culture ever really play. Kick ball without rules is really more fun
than the ruled variety and the faces of the children here when gleeful or laughing at the antics of white people is intoxicating. It was almost impossible to get the girls to join our game - ultimately we were successful with only a few. The girls here are taught to be totally deferential to men/boys of all ages - even younger than themselves. They are taught to be shy, many are painfully shy.

Children as a general rule are impressively well behaved throughout the country. They sit in rows on the ground for church without tugging at kids near them or whispering to them. They follow requests of adults with very little time lag. It's truly incredible. However all that goes out the window when we begin to hand out treats. Then we are overrun, swamped by the hordes. We've learned to make the selection of children to receive goodies random or to leave goodies with their teacher for distribution after we go. When we figured out that the girls and youngest kids wouldn't join our kick ball game, Stacy pulled out a bottle of bubbles and began to play with the pre-schoolers. I took out a bag of balloons and began to blow them up and sail them over the heads of the kids clamoring around me. I was surprised when the mothers intercepted the balloons, wrestling for them as much as any scrappy kid. They wanted them to decorate their homes a translator told me. So I gave each mom a handful to take home hoping they wouldn't feel the need then to compete with the kids to grab them. A few quit but not all! Anyway - more later - gotta go to lunch.