A Day with the Chapita Village Orphans & Chipendo
Trip Start Sep 11, 2010
25Trip End Oct 06, 2010
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Started out along the Kamuzi Procession Highway (the first President of Free Malawi) that I had learned about the day before and navigated through all the roundabouts. They are not hard to navigate….just problematic on which of the spokes to get off on!
We bought fuel for our gas hog Toyota Ipsum which has a gas leak. Again we fill up with about $60 of gas. The Sunday morning life in Malawi is exciting to watch. People carry unbelievable things on thier heads. A woman carried a full pyramid of tomatoes to market on her head. How they do this, I don't know.
The 100 mile drive to Balaka is beautiful. Malawi is a beautiful country. We enjoyed our time and conversation with Christina Davis. One interesting and somewhat amusing information she gave us was that young children have been avoiding her. Christina is very blond. The word is that a blond woman comes to Malawi and kidnaps children. With Madonna adopting a Malawian child, this is the kind of story that has been going around.
We arrived at Dr. Chilopora’s who we know so well. We were surprisingly greeted by Chiku Chilopora. She is about to turn 20 years old. She has really grown up since we first met her in 2001 when she was 13. Her mother had just died and Dr. and Esther Chilopora, her grandparents have been caring for her. They have sent her to boarding school and really watched for her development. She is now studying insurance at the Malawi College of Accountancy. It’s unusual for a woman to be in this field, but it is one that is most that most likely promises a job at the end of studies. The course is to be a two or three year course. Chiku is one of our LifeNets scholarship students and promises to do well.
She was very helpful with her grandmother In the kitchen making nsima and the rest of the meal for us.
With Dr. Chilopora we reminisced about our years together, our first meeting in Lilongwe in 2000. Then we talked about how Dr. and Mrs. Chilopra met and then had to be separated for six year while Dr. Chilopora studied in France and Esther in London. Esther was invited to a garden party with Queen Elizabeth who invited students from different nations to Buckingham Palace. She even was able to have a few words with Queen Elizabeth who asked her about some particular thing she wore indicating the regency of President Kamuzu.
Today is Dr. Chilopora’s 81st birthday and we all sang "Happy Birthday" to him.
After lunch we headed off towards the Chizeni clinic and on towards the orphans. At the clinic we are offered bottles of either Fanta Orange or Coca Cola. There is not opener. No problem. One of the young rips off the bottle caps with his teeth!
This is the first time that we have seen the clinic fully completed. The razor wire that had to be imported from South Africa has been put on top the 400 meter wall (that they call a "fence") was in place. The main blue formidable gate is in place. It was a wonderful site for us to see. LifeNets has financed this entire project and it’s good to see a well-run clinic by Dr. Sam and Esther Chilopra. We’re glad that young people like Philip Myers, Aaron Blue, Jennifer Myers and Christina Davis have been able to experience the ambiance of Malawi life being connected with Dr. Chilopora.
The day has to move quickly because we have lots to do. We then drove to Chapita, the community of orphans that Dr. Chilopora works with with. This is where our goat progam is, too…..that has been financed by the fundraisers in New Jersey and New York by Dr. Barbara Wall and JoAnn Hawker. We started with 30 goats. But disease has taken its toll and we have been losing goats, particularly the newborn. We are getting a veterinarian to help us get to the bottom of this problem. We really want and NEED the goats for helping sustain our children.
This orphan community is about 15 miles from Dr. Chilopora’s place. When we arrived the children and guardians were singing and dancing. What a beautiful sound! Then we were seated by the chief, her assistant Asikumu and the “political” leader of the area. Rose Kida. Dr. Chilopora also praised the coordinator of this programs Rose who was very articulate and spoke good English. She is a political leader in the area and heads up the Women’s Organization, the service deals with women’s needs in the area. This is a project well supported by the chief, LifeNets, Dr. Chilopora and the civil authorities. It helps 150 orphans in this area. They are a little too far from the clinic so Dr. Chilopora drives out there with Esther periodically to bring food, do medical assessment and train the guardians. He also administers the goat program. We really appreciated being able to witness all this first-hand.
A few speeches were given by the coordinator and then by Beverly Kubik who always does a great job to explain what LifeNets does. We have a YOUTUBE story about this at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52j-VxpiC40. Be sure to watch it.
We had to continue moving on because we wanted to meet Salawila’s and Lawrence Chipendo at Chipendo’s property. This is where we put in our first borehole back in 2003 or so. It was a project financed by the Akron United Church of God in a fundraiser in 2002. You can see the story about this event at http://lifenets.org/volunteers/akron2002.htm. We have not been back here in seven years.
We met with the Elifazi, Lewis Salawila and Lawrence Chipendo on the highway after a 45 minute drive from the orphans. Then into the bush! I don’t know how we really got in there, but we did. Lawrence wanted to show us his new dam that also was financed by LifeNets. The borehole and dam project are not only for his benefit for 20 other households in this remote region. We saw the dam that has now been dug, but it still needs to be lined with cement so that the water collected during the rainy season doesn’t seep out through the sandy soil. It is nearly 15 feet deep and fills up completely during the rains, but seeps out in less than three weeks. With lining it can provide lots of water through the dry period. Water is life here and directly corresponds to their economic development.
Then the drive to Blantyre which was over about an hour and a half. Driving is dark Africa with bicyclers, pedestrian no reflectters bright oncoming lights…..for me it’s frightening!
Christina is to stay with an 81 year old nurse Elizabeth that we have gotten to know over several trips. She served us drinks.
Then on to the Shiri Highland Hotel where we are to stay the next three nights....