Saturday, 19 December 2009

Matty's Malawi Diary - Part 2

It took about 2 hours to drive to Kasungu, passing a few towns on the way (one which was market day), but the one thing I noticed was that, outside the capital city, how quiet the roads were. You would see the occasional car, perhaps one or two every 10 minutes and then the occasional minibus (these being the only mode of public transport) but otherwise most people would walk or cycle everywhere. There was also a lot of people selling food on the side of the roads, this also included mouse kebabs (to make these they would set fire to shrubbery and then the smoke would drive the mice out, these would then be caught and cooked and then sold on the side of the road).
When I arrived in Kasungu I went to an office when my mum and the project workers had a meeting. After that we drove down to the Kasungu District Hospital where we went in and were showed around by one of the medical officers. Then hospital was like nothing I had ever seen, a queue of about 60 people waiting to get into the building and then inside sick people and pregnant women lying on the floor, waiting for service. In the hospital I went into the maternity ward, where I was shown data about the recent births and deaths and then shown in a room with all the beds in. Then I donated my gift to that hospital, funded by the money raised by The Painters Chronicle. After I left the hospital I went for lunch in the Kasungu Inn, where I enjoyed a meal of soup, vegetables and metze, the staple food for most Malawians which is a large dumpling like food made from maize. After lunch I went to the village of Santhe, where I went to a health clinic. I was showed around there and then there was a meeting between the MaiKhanda team and the people working for the Santhe health centre. After leaving there I headed right out into the scrubland to a village when I was greeted by singing, dancing and children crowding around the car. At that village I then got driven to their vegetable farm, a place where they are growing vegetables to try and encourage pregnant women to have a healthy diet.
After that we were driven to another village, which would be inaccessible without our 4x4 jeeps. In that village they had painted health messages on the houses to lessen the danger of disease. I was shown around that village and I saw some houses where pregnant women would stay in the latter stages of pregnancy. Then a band did a short performance for me under the shade of a mango tree. Then I presented my gift to the chief of the village which was some equipment for children who were going to school (pens, pencils, calculators etc.). Then I went back to the main village when there was a singing performance and also a comedy sketch. Then there were some speeches, and then I should everyone’s hand. A few hundred handshakes later I was invited into the chief’s house were I had some food, vegetables, fresh bananas and metze and also some Fanta (a drink, as well as Coke, you can get just about anywhere in Malawi). Then I left and drove back to Lilongwe in the dark (there are no street lamps in Malawi except on the road leading to the president’s office). The only light I saw were fires in remote villages in the distance.

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