Day of seeing LifeNets projects in Lilongwe
Trip Start Sep 11, 2010
25Trip End Oct 06, 2010
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We headed straight for the Oasis of LifeNets school in Area 49 of Lilongwe (near the Dubai shopping district. We were very anxious to see the nursery school now in operation since July 12th or so.
The teacher for the day is Grace Njembe and obviously has a way with the little children who range in age from one and a half to four. Normally there are two teachers, but one was not there this day. The school is just starting and there were 17 children. It is expected to grow. They need a little dolls and cars, poster board, a wall clock and a bell. Very basic items.
Took lots of video and stills. We have our story posted on our Website at www.lifenets.org/oasis. More will be coming.
Then we proceeded to DHL and the Customs Office at the airport. At first we were told that we would pick up our boxes shipped from Cincinnati downtown, but now they wanted us to come to the airport again. It always seems that there is a change in plans…usually in way that works against us. When we got to the DHL office at the airport, it was closed. But, Wordsworth found someone who told us to go to the Customs office not far away. We did. A lot of people were standing around in a small office with three desks and bureaucratic employees with stacks and stacks of papers that were being loudly stamped. They finally got to us after almost half an hour. The verdict: $130 duty for the items we brought in for the Feast. There was almost 20 pages of paperwork. We collected the receipt and headed back to the DHL office where we could indeed pick up the boxes. The amount of duty probably covers only the cost of all the bureaucratic procedures.
We drove by the Academy for Girls construction site where Madonna is building a school.
Working in a poor country like Malawi is frustrating. It is so far away, so expensive to get to. Because of baggage restrictions we carry less than before. Everything takes a long time and I can understand why people give up on countries like Malawi and Zambia. Things don't work, procedures are complicated. And, there is such an obvious lack of care by the government for people. The government makes it quite difficult for charities such as ours to do work. I hope that we can make headway on customs clearing which is what our meeting at the tax office was about the day before.
Then to the bank to handle some of the money transactions for the group. Wordsworth has been very instrumental in help the delegation out.
From there we proceeded to shop for some toys and items requested by the LifeNets Oasis Nursery School. Bev bought dolls for the girls and little train cars for the boys. Watching commercial life in the business district is always interesting. It’s interesting to see the huge items that people carry such as living room chairs on their heads….who knows how far they have to walk with these things?!
We saw Mr. Chiphale Njewa who had a stroke more than two years ago and when we visited him, he was not in very good condition. We had gotten him a wheelchair since that time. We were pleased to see that he was doing a some better and looked quite good even though he has difficulty with mobility.
Mr. Njewa was asking for blood pressure medicine and some herbal treatments. We will have to try to get the medicine from Cephas Chapamba.
They also need fertilizer which is essential for any kind of a good crop. It takes four bags of fertilizer for each acre. Each bag costs between 5500 and 7500 kwachas. They have an acre and a half of land.Mikeas and his wife run a grocery story on the corner that LifeNets financed. It was fun watching people coming up to buy eggs and other items. One little girl came up and bought two eggs.
Chifundo Njewa came by.
Lester Njewa showed us how they hoe. They break down ridges and cover the valleys in the field. Then plan the maize.
Finally, the evening ended at Mama Mia’s for the final dinner with the Africa Startup Group.
Met Stella the Armenian lady who is wife of head of programs at CRS (Catholic Relief Services).
The mechanic and driver on this trip is Fenuel Sigwa
Sharon Maggard and I discussed oru JohJan LifeNets Academy in Migori, Kenya. She has managed construction projects like this and had some helpful advice for us.
Christina’s Google Website is http://africastartup.google.com/. We saw it in the evening at (at this writing it is still under construction).