Up a mountain…
It has been cold in M’Pamila! Something in the last few days has kicked up the winds and at night and covered the sun with clouds during the day. It is cold! We are making a special sweatshirt and blanket stop on our way to Senga Bay on Monday because its cold!
We are a small group. Ten of us with Daniel. But already there is a feeling that we have been together for much longer than a few days. On Wednesday most everyone slept in (except Scott of course) and relaxed in the AM. In the afternoon Griffin and I had a couple of meetings and so Munda (Gail) took the newbies for a short tour of the village. When I trudged up the hill it seemed as though the village had followed the group back to our little hill. The field nest to our dining tent was full of kids playing, laughing and having a great time with each other. Everyone was so excited to get a chance to know each other that it was hard to pull them away for dinner. They needed a good meal and some rest, as they were going up Ntchisi Mountain in the morning.
We met Eston on the way to the trail head in the morning. He had the foresight to bring a couple of walking sticks (Susan and I are forever thankful), a panga knife and a huge wrench. He was a professional guide to the forest and the mountain. His father and grandfather grew up on the mountain and he knew every inch of its landscape and history. He pointed out places were the Chewa people hid during a tribal war in the late 1800’s, to an Elephant trap used by ivory poachers. He showed us the site of a long disappeared village in the middle of the forest, and where snakes are most frequently spotted along the trail (we “bumped” into two of them during our hike). The trail along the mountain went in and out of the rain forest and it is incredible to feel the air completely change in a. Few short steps. He took us to a cliffs edge that peers over the west side of the mountain, and a showed us several viewing rocks along the south face that looked out over the forest and the villages beyond. He is taking us again on Saturday to see the caves on the western face.
Griffin had to leave early to get somethings done in Lilongwe and to pick up our good friends Solomon and Louise from the airport. The are heading up the School of Hope project in the village of Kongoma, just outside of Lilongwe. Griffin also was going to visit Edna, our favorite primary school student who we are sponsoring in Lilongwe. It is her last day of school and Griffin wanted to make sure she was ok for her journey home. Griffin also needed to bring Daniel for a check up at Kamuzu Hospital. Daniel was not very excited by this part of the plan, so much so that he hid the car keys and was able to delay the journey by over an hour. When they finally drove away Griffin was shaking his head and Daniel sat in the back with a satisfied grin on his face. Ehhh…
After breakfast we trumped down to the M’Pamila Community Primary School to meet the students we would be teaching during our afternoon classes. Goodwin, the school’s headmaster, has asked us to work with the Standard (grade to us) 3 and Standard 4 students on English grammar and the ABC’s. We had a great meet and greet with the kids and with the teachers at the school and we were on our way home when Munda decided that these kids were going to “get some learn’in today!”. She invited them back to our hill and we divided them up into small groups, grabbed some pens and markers, and had about and hour of spontaneous classes right there in the grass. Munda and Evan led one group with the help of Scott and Catherine, and Joanna and Lindsey tackled the young ones with the ABC’s. Susan and I bounced back and forth between the two groups, taking pictures and helping out. It was a great introduction to the kids we are going to work with and great fun coming up with games and lessons right there on the spot.
In the afternoon we trekked back down to the school as we were invited to attend the school’s netball game and football match with a neighboring village primary school. The match was scheduled for 2 in the afternoon, but as Munda immediately predicted when hearing the schedule, the games did not begin until after 4. What is great about these games is that the crowd is just as involved as the players. When ever there was a basket scored in netball the supporters would bound onto the field in dance and celebration and then quickly charge off the field just as ply resumed. While Scott and Evan warmed up with the footballers, we all cheered and jeered from the sidelines. When the game finally got going Susan and I commented how amazing it was how hard these kids played without getting hurt. You really have to see it to believe it.
We finished the day off in a mad dash to sunset rock for… the sunset. As Scott, Joanna, Lindsey, Susan and I frantically clicked pictures as the sun was setting, Scott said “No matter how many pictures I take, it is just not enough to show what it is like being here right now.” Put perfectly.