Archive for April, 2014

Something uplifting for Easter

April 19th, 2014

Something uplifting for Easter: Kachelenje Church Choir, Malawi on a shaky iPhone. But gorgeous singing. Magical.

Sending out our love and very best wishes to all our friends and supporters everywhere this Easter.

A letter about Ava

April 14th, 2014


Dipping under the bougainvillea,  I can see Ava clean out the huge maize cooking pot. Bent over at the waist. Thin. Much thinner than my last visit 4 months ago.

I had heard she was having seizures. Were her meds failing her?  That’s the problem with HIV territory. Some of it’s effects still unchartered 20 years on. Has she developed a tumour in her brain? I bite my lip relieved she was alive . That’s the problem here. Turn your back for a second and a person passes silently into their faith.

Not Ava. She looked up and whooped!! We danced towards each other. Both of us laughing. One step forward; 2 steps back. I threw my arms around her tiny frame and we both knew this was good. Made it. To now.

Ava is 48. At least I think so. She looks about 60. That’s what Africa does to poor women. Her 3 children died from HIV, leaving her 6 grandchildren to rear. She works as a kitchen porter in a small clinic. She is smart. Fluent English and bright. Very.

She scrapes together money for school fees. I once saw a handful of her grandchildren come to her, looking for food for lunch. It was the “hungry season”.  She gave the eldest a tomato to take home and share. He wrapped it up carefully, lifted up his baby sister and turned for home.
The others following quietly behind.

I’ve known Ava since 2007. She’s laughs easily. Eyes always moving to spot any opportunity. Does what she needs to..
Easy to see her as a little girl. Tiny, obedient, curious … funny. Her mum and dad must have loved her very much. Same love driving her forward.

I once asked her did she miss her husband. She looked at me as if I was mad! No! Did she miss the company of a man… are you crazy, she asked!  Just from looking around I think this is what happens in Malawi. Too busy living to think loving thoughts. You can’t eat them. They can’t put a roof over your head.
Anyway… her husband slept with sick women and gave her HIV.

Ava knows her time is short. She talks to me about owning her own little house. If she owned her own house she could sleep in a lean-to and rent out the house to guests. So when the day comes she is too old or sick to work, she can sleep easy.

Keep her small family together. Like you and me.

I wish, more than anything, that Ava gets her small house.

Bricks and tin…. Bricks and tin…..

A final touch from Ava at Ndi Moyo cooking demo

Malawi April 2014

PS the shot here shows Ava adding her final touch to a stew pot demonstration we were running at Ndi Moyo.