Friday, July 2, 2010

Chapter 2

Our lodgings reminded me of a holiday chalet with everything a bit worn and tatty, however it has running water ( not hot) and flush toilets – I was expecting the infamous long drop- in fact didn’t get to use one all the way during the holiday. Had my first good chat with Jumbo, he told me about his disappointment of coming home after his family had set such high hopes for him in UK. Times were very tough when he got back but now he was pleased to be in Malawi and his maize growing with the help of specialist advice was going well.
Went for a pizza with the guys – British prices. Llilongwe is quite expensive, same petrol price as UK, I don’t know how people on low incomes cope – there are thousands of them. We went back into the suburbs to Mthwalo’s house . Government owned bungalow with tin roof, comfortable with kitchen bedrooms, quite suburban. M. is growing a cash crop of Chinese cabbage in his garden, all Malawians seem to be entrepreneurs.
Killed first mosquito at chalet, gave up wrestling with mosquito net which insisted on wrapping itself around my neck, no problem with bites. Something heavy landed on the roof in the night.

18.6 Breakfast in refectory – the Malawian national dish – chips and eggs. African music and dancing on TV. First Chichewa words – Muli banji and Zikomo. Sat on verandah and began to read 1 Peter, our book for the week, lovely to share Christian things with Jumbo.
Off to juvenile prison, amazing sights on the way, so many people, rickety wooden scaffolding, children heading off to school in their droves, some waiting by road side ash pits for baked potatoes for their breakfasts. Prison was a disturbing medieval place. 71 under 18s kept their, six in for murder. A farm-yard with cowsheds for accommodation, open latrine, one tap, no shoes, doctor or education. Apart from Kennedy and Johann’s input the boys there are abandoned by a system which says that criminals deserve no facilities. All education takes place outside in the yard at the mercy of the weather. Two volunteers were leading groups and an older inmate teaching another. I gave a short talk on Jesus stilling the storm, Kennedy translated. We talked to an 11 year old who had just arrived after a fight the previous day where someone had been hurt. Kennedy and Johann have great plans but few resources.
The prisoners have no legal aid. Outside the governors office, a prisoner had climbed a papaya tree, 40 ft up he was happily knocking off fruit which crashed down. The staff seemed to be pleased.
Walked to town centre past two huge mosques, swarms of people, very dusty and litter strewn. J and K. kept on bumping into friends, including one guy they had successfully helped out of prison. Lunch and then taxi to jumbo’s uncles’ house where jumbo’s dad was recuperating after an eye operation. Jumbo’s uncle is an MP and not surprisingly has a beautiful house and five cars. Mr. Kalua Snr remembered the independence days when he had personally met the great hero of the nation, Hastings Banda in 1958. He said that it had been a dangerous and fearful time with many killed in the unrest.
Chinese in the evening, a first for the lads. Jumbo stayed at the resthouse and bought a great plateful of white maize back – just like blanched mashed potato- bean stew and limp stewed Chinese cabbage.
Terrible England performance, worst I have ever seen. Only been here 1 ½ days but it seems like months. Tough place to live, dust smoke but Christians are very strong.

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