Rob Pfeiffer Blog 12/21/2015 Malawian Children
Here in the center of all holiday activity, we are absolutely buzzing with excitement as the big day approaches. As a matter of fact, even the weather has gotten excited. It was so excited yesterday with torrential rain, fifty mile per hour winds, and lightening dancing all around me that I feared for my life. I was at the village water station with two of the local women. They wanted me to go first as a deferential show of respect, but I refused and helped them with their containers. No sooner had they left and I had started to fill my containers, all hell broke loose. By the time I started wheeling up the hill, a torrent was pouring down the pathway deeper than my boots are tall and making pushing my favorite new conveyance a total nightmare. Add instantaneous thunder and lightning to the fact I was blinded by the force of the rain, and I think you get the picture. That was one long slog. And all this is to tell you that, yes, we were out of water again so a refill was in order, but the weather changed that dramatically and suddenly. We are now in the rainy season, finally. So planting is going full speed ahead. The seed bank is now in tubes full of moist soil and we are praying for good germination.
But, the real purpose of this missive is to talk about the children. We really need to look at child rearing practices in our country. These kids are incredible in so many ways, but I am going to focus on their ability to entertain themselves, something I see our children failing at. To my way of thinking, drugs and alcohol are ways of entertaining yourself when you can’t find another way. These kids are all about playing and they do it with no toys or electronics. I take that back; they have rolled up plastic bags taped together for soccer balls and old bicycle rims which they roll beside themselves with a stick while running at top speed. No other toys in evidence. And, this independent ability starts early. I have written about the eighteen month old boy with whom I locked eyes and hands at the water station. His mother has been part of the construction crew here at Go!Malawi. She lugs water up and down that same hill, moves sand and bricks, and generally helps out all over the project. Little Raymond is with her all day. He is either on her back, breast feeding, or playing by himself for 12 hours at a time. He loves the sand pile. He also makes really authentic truck noises without the benefit of having any trucks around or having a toy truck. I have heard him whimper twice in two weeks and both times, he responded to Christmas music whistled in his direction. Very special!
Yesterday, we celebrated children in a special end of term assembly at the school. We at Go!Malawi loaded 200 seedlings into a borrowed pickup truck and drove down to school for the 9:00 event. The teachers had a meeting until 10:30, so, as a throng of curious kids surrounded the truck, I started to whistle, something I do quite a bit spontaneously. The kids all joined in and soon we had rollicking versions of Rudolph, Jingle Bells, and Silver Bells filling the atmosphere. My lips were pretty sore by the time the teachers showed up, but it was all good as the kids were so enthralled. Inside one classroom, we all assembled. Again, the kids rose to the occasion by sitting on the floor, in each others laps and squeezing together so that 200 of us all fit. Then they were silent and well behaved for the duration of a three hour event. We at Go!Malawi have 64 awards for outstanding academic achievement (four boys and four girls in each of the eight grades). Each student received a certificate, a notebook, a pen, a soda, and some cookies. Then, we all filed out into the rain where we passed out the 200 seedlings to 200 eager pairs of hands. The children are challenged to take care of the trees for the two week break and, if they bring them back healthy, they receive a notebook and a pen.
Since it was still raining and I needed to return the truck, I asked the owners if pie making might be a good rainy day activity. They own the Ntchisi Lodge and serve four star food to their guests. I serve as their chain repairman and now am their pie maker. Their staff did not know how to make a pie so we set about making two. In no time, the aroma of cinnamon filled the lodge and I brought one pie back to the crew here, leaving the other to go on the evening menu for the guests. We were practicing up for the Christmas festivities which will include four apple pies. That’s most of the news from Malawi. Please have a happy and safe Holiday Season.