Archive for October, 2010

Our Land Lectures Start

October 29th, 2010

Good news.

Some shots here of the first TT Land Lecture at the Mchoka resource centre. We had a guy from Agri-Foresty called Watson Jali and our own Kenny give a talk on composting.

Watson is the Land Resource and Conservation Officer for the district Agricultural Office and he was great. The women are leaders from some of our original projects: Magumbwa, Mphunga, Mchoka, Kandulu and we also had Phaka, Chimoga and Sanimaganga, three new gardens.

The women were really enthusisatic and Watson has kindly agreed to come himself or send somebody else for the next four weeks. I have also asked him for information on organic fertiliser. I am hoping that he will put our teams on a government programme next year to supply tree seeds and bushes and the technical backup. There are also grants available. However we are too late this year but they are very happy to give us all the technical support we need. In return l have told them we will develop the data on the different gardens using agri-forestry which l am sure he would find useful.

The women in the photos are all leaders of the different groups. I asked them if they felt this way of working i.e. seeds, support, etc was better than us simply giving them a bag of maize. Without doubt they all want to go forward developing their gardens and most importantly, they want the education to back it up. They were so excited today and participated so well.

 Watson and group leadersLand Lectures at Mchoka dscn1271.JPG

If You Grow Up

October 14th, 2010

If You Grow Up.

A crocodile ate Lucy’s great-grandmother.


Feel bad because l laughed.

First time l’ve met someone who actually knew somebody who was eaten.

By a crocodile.

Sneaked out tonight.

Music coming in loud and clear.

From  the bush.

Grabbed the New Canadian Doctor.

Something not right.

He’s dancing with the ladies over 60 and I’m dancing with the boys under 16.

Not easy coming home through the bush.

No traffic lights.

New Canadian Doctor afraid of snakes.

And there it was again… Madonna.

He heard it too.

Asked a boy today what he wanted to be when he grew up.

He looked straight at me. ‘’I might be dead. I might be a drunkard”.

Thought I saw him at the party.


Going to look at crocodiles tomorrow.

Hope Lucy won’t mind….


Tuesday Trust is coming along.

Learning lots about termite resistant fences and rural Malawian politics.

The village women have their first lecture tomorrow.


Coming up next… agri -forestry.

These women are smart.

Gate crashed an opening they were having in another village.

Such ceremony.

Lots of chiefs.

And chiefs of chiefs.

And wives of  Chief’s….

Lucy did not eat her dinner tonight.

Too sad.

Little 16 year old girl who was a friend of hers taken to a missionary hospital (you have to pay) with a serious headache.

They are very poor.

The village chief wrote a note asking the hospital to care for the young girl.

She went at the wrong time. 4 am.

The attending medic did not give her any respect.

He put a drip in and went back to bed.

He ordered the staff not to disturb him.

He went back to sleep. But he did not put the drip in properly.

It was leaking all over the floor.

Her family could only find a watchman to complain to.

Eventually somebody else came along and gave her a new drip.

By 10 am she was dead.

Her family left.

The hospital gave them a bill.

And their daughter’s body.

So sad.

It brings you face to face with human rights.

It’s in your face.

Every day.

Looking forward to the weekend. Heading up to a small reserve.

My Irish friend is the camp manager. Lots of Rangers.

(Wonder if they will let me shoot)

Bringing the Two Canadian Doctors.

Called for directions.

Was told to bring a saw, chains and two planks (because the bridge is down)

The saw to cut up trees on the road, which the elephants have knocked down.


Chicken for chickens!

Packed the ambulance full to bring all to the clinic.

Carefully helping the young and the old.

Got to the clinic.

Opened the doors.

The oldest woman handed me a huge black live chicken.

Yes, I dropped it.

She’s in trouble with Lucy.

No chickens allowed in the ambulance…

Yesterday I was walking through Lucy’s garden and through the gate came a young Malawian man in a red Arsenal shirt, a man in a black cassock and wooden cross, with a tiny Malawian baby over his shoulder.

He is Brother Michael and the baby’s name is Christina.

I don’t know what “ Arsenals” name is.

He is an Anglican Benedictine Monk.

The last one in the world.

There were four of them but he is now on his own.

He is mid 30’s.

Spend most of his adult life in an enclosed order in Scotland and the last five years in different countries in Africa working with abandoned babies.

Usually physically or mentally handicapped.

Christina was born with brain damage.

She has cerebral palsy and she had a stroke at birth.

She was abandoned to die.

Brother Michael took her to his home.

He nurses her, cares for her.

She did not sleep more than 2 hours a night at first.

He works around her.

She is tiny and lovely.

He and his little group arrived from another town on the bus.

They have little.

He wants to open place for abandoned children here.

I hope l see them again.

(Already hatching a plan for Bro. Michael to get him a new light grey cassock.

The heavy black one he wears …way too hot.

Wonder if he will surrender to us or will we steal it while he sleeps…..)

If l kill a chicken on the road, it’s 200KW.

If l kill a goat, then it’s 6,000KW.

If l kill a cow we reckon it must be 50,000 KW.

Just back from camp. Five of us on 40,000 acres.


Huts, monkeys and elephants.

And fleas and horrible flies called TziTzi flies that give you a disease the locals call  ‘Sleeping Sickness’ (Eventually getting into your brain).

The Two Canadian Doctors l was with seriously need to re-sit their exams….

They jumped into a pool of stagnant water covered with flies and fleas, small animal poo and parasites.

Am watching them very closely to see if they will die.


It’s getting hotter.

34 degrees today.

Very high humidity.

Almost unbearable.

Have surrendered to the lake.

Will take the medication later.

Starting to see beyond the dust.

Driving home, l now see the big guys in the field play powerful football.

I see tiny children playing and running.

I see the older women gossip around the pump.

I see young men giving their girl a lift home on the back of the bike.

Fridays are like home.

At 5 o’clock, people everywhere.

Carrying wood for the fire, maize on their head.

A few wobbly bikes.

Too many beers.

Mosques calling to prayer.

Oxen running for home, with a couple of 10 year olds waving sticks at them.

The street markets buzzing with music.

Young boys selling mice on a stick…..

Feeling more at home….

And missing my family.

But it’s OK.


October 1st, 2010

Film crew came yesterday. Volunteers. Making a little movie to Lucy raise money.

Big Canadian film guy… Tom.

Lucy made us cry.

She sat in front of the camera and Tom asked her to tell us why she does this. Her sister was dying.

In the next room was a young Malawian soldier. He screamed in pain for three days and nights. Lucy begged for help for him.

He died in pain.

She promised that as long as she could… in her world… nobody would die in such pain.

A man died yesterday at the local district hospital. He had had a stroke and lapsed into a coma. His wife and son said very little.

He must have been a good man.

The look in their eyes was unbearable to watch.

New Canadian doctor arrives. Donating three weeks to the clinic. Good fun and a great doctor. (Really bad driver!) Asking all the right questions but still can’t get the right answer.  Just as we were leaving the house this morning… a woman brings her sick baby for him to look at. Very ill child with measles.  He checks the child. Lucy explains how it is. There are no tests. There is nothing we can do. The father waits in the kitchen. His son is very important to him. He says nothing.

Tuesday was washing day for me. Took all my clothes outside to the sink to wash them.



Slowly looked over my shoulder. About 20 VERY quiet people sitting on the wall. Watching me. All waiting to see if they could get a lift into town. Lucy sends half away with a quick flick of her hand. Not quite sure what she said but could take a guess…

Major problem with morphine supplies. (An issue of distribution, organization and Centeral Medical Stores). Am becoming  an expert on essential medicines. Draining.

Lucy stressed.

Have sourced some weak morphine to keep the clinic going for a couple of weeks. Had to send a guy from the clinic on the bus (4 hours each way) to pick it up. Can’t send a car…diesel shortage. Major changes have to come. Tony at the forefront of the attack. Spent most of the last 10 days doing this. More to come…

My new Irish friend who is running the nearby Reservation is beginning to see the attractions of army life. Has six scouts and two armed rangers at her disposal. Lines them up in the morning…checks them out. Sends them out to catch poachers. Listens for rapid gunfire. That means they have caught a poacher. Am heading up next weekend.

Hope the elephants come out to play.

God… I truly hope there is nothing too creepy up there. Had to skip over a snake in the garden yesterday.

Not to mention the two monkeys who live in the high trees in our garden. On Skype, my 7-year niece asked if l could catapult some bananas up to them. They look like fat cats to me!!

Not to mention the GIANT things that live in my roof that run around at night. I don’t want to know…