A lovely Mwaya Mondays post by visitors Judi Duck (Retired Midwife) and Jim Duck (Retired GP) who stayed at RIPPLE Africa for 2 weeks:
A 6am swim here is delicious! Cool, clear, fresh unchlorinated lake – miles of uncluttered, sandy beach coming to life – a kingfisher darting – and Esther’s breakfast waiting….
Then a hot, sweaty cycle to the road-end, a squashed, sweaty minibus ride south to Kachere, and 4 hours sitting in on an Antenatal Clinic (trying not to contrast it with care at home) – and a baby boy unceremoniously born at 11am – my first delivery for 5 years! Back to Mwaya for fruit, eggs and fluid, everyone’s news – and a helpful debrief on my morning’s observations with Dr Jenna.
Each day since we arrived at RIPPLE Africa has been delightful and enthralling to me. I’ve seen school classes, clinics and tree nurseries, and helped with several Pre-school mornings, and joined Phoebe at Adult Literacy classes. I’ve walked to distant villages around Chintheche with Catherine and Charlie to see the impact of Changu Changu Motos (RIPPLE Africa’s fuel efficient stoves) on the community, been to two Anglican services, shared countless greeting exchanges with friendly Malawians, marvelled at all the “National Geographic” scenes, cycled miles and sweated buckets!
After 4 weeks travelling in Tanzania and Northern Malawi, coming to the well-designed charm of Mwaya Beach and it’s welcome has been a joy for me and Jim. We are so grateful for the ready helpfulness and kindness of the current volunteer bunch – all interesting, funny, enterprising and kind folk, who have included us, and shared endless conversations and discussions and laughs with a couple of Scots oldies! Dan and Charlie and Morton have been wonderfully thoughtful and attentive, we love all the staff here – and the food – and these eight motivated, hardworking, fit and fun-loving young people have entered our hearts and will remain friends, we very much hope! They are a credit to the Projects!
“Azungu, Azungu” and “What is my name?” and “One picture” – the cries of glistening kids frolicking in the lake, or in blue and white uniforms en route to school, or from the tots invisible under the trees…. These will echo as I try, in Scotland’s winter, to feel again the warm wind, the hot sun, my back soaking under a rucksack, the strain in my thighs cycling through sand, determined not to get stuck, let alone fall off! So will the haunting hooting of the tropical boubou, the melodic black-eyed bulbul song and the “Cassava, Drink Lager” call of the blue-spotted pigeon. I will miss the clang of unripe falling mangoes hitting the roof, the cheeky romping of the vervet monkeys and wondering whether the shower will be hot, cold or even working!
And the characters – so many, so colourful: pumping the well, carrying head loads of wood or water, suitcases or handbags, often with a baby on their back; laughing, so much to say; the music of the Chitonga language; men holding hands; children cuddled as soon they cry, even by other kids – all this would have been enough. To have, then, the joy, excitement and thrill of working with such an energetic, accepting group of bright adventurers and visionaries, has recharged batteries I didn’t know I had.
RIPPLE’s commitment to local conservation, health and education is very impressive, as are all of their staff. Dan’s enthusiasm for tree planting, budding and grafting for sweet mangoes, lemons and guavas, and Charlie’s for the Changu Changu Moto project, ensure the priority for sustainability. The passion of the Education and Health teams, their honest facing down of huge challenges and their manifest affection for pupils, patients, staff and colleagues, albeit tinged at times with frustration, is nothing short of inspirational. The delicious meals prepared by the much loved cooks make a perfect end to each day!
It is, therefore, all our new friends at Mwaya Beach and Lowani I will miss and think of most often. And they’re not even Scottish!