We got back from Malawi last night. It was an amazing trip! We met some incredible people, both from Malawi and from the states. Pictures to come!
Here's just a snippet of what we got to do:
1. Build a foundation with bricks for a pre-school. Yep, we used brick, dirt, and cement to work alongside the actual bricklayers to finish the foundation walls.
2. Visit multiple villages where World Vision works with the tribes to provide fresh water wells, agriculture education, HIV/AIDS prevention, and education just to name a few.
3. Visit World Vision's HIV/AIDS swine and chicken project. This project provides an opportunity for those who are positive for HIV/AIDS to be employed, and to sell the meat in order to show the villages that people with HIV/AIDS do not need to be outcasts, but can be productive members of the community.
4. We toured the Nkoma Hospital. There are just a few doctors, and nurses have 150 patients a day. When a person comes to the hospital, he/she must be accompanied by a family member who provides care for the patient during the hospital stay. Because of the shortage of medical personnel, the staff only provides the medical care. Thanks to Louise from FTS for the tour. Nkoma is one of a few hospitals in the country, and people will walk for 50 km plus to get care.
5. Work with FTS partners on an outreach event in a village. The village has a high percentage of witchcraft followers. When we hear witchcraft we tend to think of kids during Halloween, but this is actually some really evil stuff. Kids get taken in as early as 2 years old and sold to the witch doctor. The witch doctor in turn teaches them to kill, perform sacrifices (human and animal) etc. Pretty nasty stuff that I really didn't think existed. Any way, we were there with the amazing FTS Malawian crew to provide an alternative and hope to the village.
6. Work with FTS on a day with kiddos in the villages. We got to play with kids from infancy to teenagers, and some mothers. It was basically a VBS kind of day. Lots of games, lots of laughs, and a little learning about family and caring for each other well with Bible stories.
7. MVUU (Hippo) Camp Safari. Yep, yep, hippos, baboons, monkeys, water buffalo, birdies galore, crocodile, elephants, and wart hogs. (The rhinos, lions, and zebras were hiding). A great two days!! Josh and Heather stayed in a little hut on the banks of the river with the windows facing the water. We woke up at 3am one morning to elephants eating on the trees about six feet in front of them. We got to watch them for about a half an hour before they moved on.
8. We got the GREAT PLEASURE to tour the Partners in Hope health clinic. This clinic was started by a doctor from the Westside of Los Angeles, Dr. Perry Jansen. The clinic has two sides. There is a paying clinic for those who have the ability, dignitaries, politicians, business people etc. The clinic provides general medical care as well as HIV/AIDS testing and treatment. The second clinic, Moyo Clinic, is a free clinic for those who cannot pay. It provides HIV/AIDS testing and treatment. The clinic also stresses community outreaches through school health education etc. It was absolutely inspiring to see. And, UCLA has become a big partner with the organization, and will start sending UCLA doctor residents to Malawi to assist. UCLA also provided funds for needed equipment. YEAH, UCLA is the best! :)
9. Then, we had an additional work day at FTS property in the capital city of Lilongwe. We crushed bricks and stamped them to be the first layer of the foundation. It is definitely a process to build in Malawi. The property is going to be great once it's finished. It will have a guest house, dorms, staff housing, playing fields, camping spots, and gardens. VERY VERY cool.
10. We got to hear about Chief's Ministry and Opportunity International Bank. Chief's Ministry, run by a man named Amos, provides support and education for the traditional Malawian village chiefs. Opportunity International Bank is the only bank that is available to anyone in Malawi. A person only needs 500 kwacha, about $3.50 to open an account, and 1000 kwacha, about $7, to start accumulating interest. They also provide microloans as small as $10 to start businesses in the community.
11. We got to tour and hold infants and toddlers in the Crisis Nursery in Lilongwe. We both LOVED this place. The idea is that families who cannot care for the infants, usually due to the death of parents or infant malnutrition give the infants to the nursery for "this crisis". The children are fed, restored to health, and in the vast majority of the time, able to return to their villages with their large families. It is only a small percentage who end up needing to be placed into foster care or adoptive homes. For some reason, it was encouraging to know that "orphans" do not necessarily need to be "orphans". It was also encouraging to know that Madonna was not allowed to adopt from that nursery.
12. On our last day in Malawi, we got to go with Vasco, who is the youth leader for the area. He has about 1 million youth in his area. He was having a sleepover weekend for several high schools in the area. We showed up to keep the students occupied with soccer games, frisbee, and just chatting with them. They helped us learn more Chichewa words and they got to speak in English (of course, there English is WAY, WAY better than our Chichewa will ever be).
13. On our way out of Africa, we had a nine hour layover in Kenya. So, our team leaders made dinner reservations for us at a restaurant in Nairobi, called Carnviore Restaurant. It was all you can eat meat. We had pork ribs, chicken, lamb, beef, sausage, crocodile, and ostrich. It was a great three course meal, and we got to see a little bit of Kenya in the process.
We are leaving tomorrow! That is just insane! Our first flight leaves LAX at 8:55pm. We have a stop-over in London. Then, it's on to Kenya and finally to Lilongwe, Malawi. We are busy finishing the last minute planning, while of course, watching the Olympic Trials--just can't get enough! (Heather definitely programmed the DVR to make sure that we catch all of the trials while we are gone.)
You can call us: Mzungu now too :) Crazy white guys who run in circles :)
We can't wait to share stories and pictures when we get back.
Thank you in advance to the Ruppe's for their help with getting us to our meeting spot and back.