Happy Easter everyone. I hope the weather cooperates and that family and friends can all get together safely. Over here, we just ate a watermelon we grew and have had eggplant at two meals this week. I missed out on both at home last summer (was that only months ago or years?) as the potato bugs ate the eggplant and the watermelon did not mature. So, I am making up for lost time. Speaking of that, I just came up with a plan to redo all the holidays which have happened while I have been away starting with Halloween (maybe my favorite). So get ready to see a burly, fairly well tanned fellow ambling around Lincolnville and Camden with a costume of some sort very soon. Too many special events have gone by and I miss them all as it means connecting with dear people.
We connected in a special way with 400 learners at the village school on Thursday. The term ended then and we hosted an awards ceremony. When I say we I am referring to is the Go! Malawi crew. We give eight prizes to each grade for academic performance and effort,etc. So, 64 students stood up to be recognized and then received a notebook, a pen, a package of biscuits (really good with tea) and a soda (either Coke or Fanta). The event took place in one of the 20 by 20 classrooms with all those little bottoms sitting on the damp concrete floor. As Malawians love to talk and there were 20 adults all with speeches to make, my empathy was definitely with the learners as they squirmed their way through the three hours. Amazing.
Sitting in front was a young lady I would peg as a fourth grader who stood out in much the same way I do in Malawi. There are Albinos here and I have seen adults in Lilongwe but this young lady is remarkable in many ways. My heart goes out to any and all who are “different” and to stand out as she does certainly qualifies her as different. She sat very composed throughout and seemed genuinely engaged the whole time. There is a great deal of superstition here about Albinos and they are even dug up after death sometimes for various reasons. May she keep learning and aspiring and move on to great things. She and I were certainly outstanding in our fields that day!
The weather here is warm and sunny (I am back hoping for rain) but there has been a slight cooling lately as we are in the fall of the year here–not that much falls here although one of the biggest trees on the mountain broke in the wind the other day. What a crash that must have been. I used two blankets the other night for the first time after going without a blanket or with one over my legs for the whole time here.
About half (236 to be exact) of our 500 bamboo seedlings are in the ground now and there is a great deal of excitement about how this experiment will turn out. Sustainability is the key word here and if people take care of the plants this first year, the plants should take care of them for the foreseeable future. I sure hope so. Pressure on the forest is way over the top and if that keeps up, the villages here will eventually empty as there will be no water. The teachers from the school came en masse this morning to purchase their seedlings and I am so thankful. They are good role models and the new head teacher has recruited three new teachers for the start of the next term. There will be nine staff for the eight grades. Wonders never cease!! There have been days with three staff for 400 kids in eight grades. What a travesty. Yet, the children persevere and try hard. By the way, my English students came away with a clean sweep of the seventh grade awards in spite of my efforts. That is some of the news from Malawi.