By: Shannon Farrell
After a gruelling 3 day drive from Zimbabwe in the heat and confines of the small space that is the Overlander we arrived at Murandy Cottages – our home for the next week. Set right on the shores of beautiful Lake Malawi; we had an amazing view of the lake and the bustling fishermen each day.
Our arrival was followed by a short walk down the beach to “Cool Runnings” where we met Sam – a truly amazing woman! We were treated to a hot dinner with the most amazing garlic bread – soft and warm and fresh. Delicious.
The heat is something to reckon with out here – a very different heat than that we experience in Zimbabwe. It is a very humid heat and we have found it quite tough to deal with as a group.
Our first day started off with us learning about what would be required of us over the next week, we visited the school where we were to be working and saw what needed to be done, and we started gathering materials for the next few days. We were split into groups of 5 each effectively becoming a team, and each team was assigned a different piece of equipment to work on and fix up. We also had to come up with an idea for a new piece for the playground. We have a very busy week ahead of us!
We have to uproot two trees in the playground – a baobab and a blue gum. We got really stuck into this and everyone had a go at cutting the trees several times. A great stress reliever I can assure you! The afternoon saw some of us heading into town to buy supplies and other items needed for our project. Suffice to say there was not much room left in the back of the truck for us after we were done. The drive home was rather interesting with us all perched on tyres that were piled high in the back of the pick-up. We definitely drew some strange looks!
Sam spoke to us about cultural aspects of the village which we found really interesting and it definitely opened up our eyes and gave us a better understanding of the people we are surrounded by. She also gave us some facts about her own life which helped us to better understand her and her mission. Evening time came with not much difference in temperature unfortunately, and majority of us found our way to the bar at “Cool Runnings” – which is thoroughly decorated with smiley faces, giving it a very cheerful and happy atmosphere.
Over the course of the week we started to paint our various projects and put them together as well as doing some hard graft in the morning. We continued our efforts to pull up the baobab tree and we finally succeeded in this on Saturday – we were all happy to see it come out as it was starting to get very frustrating – in the way that a loose tooth that refuses to come out is bothersome! It did take a truck and rope and numerous attempts to get it out however and much swearing was directed at the offending tree!
Unfortunately for most of us, we managed to get quite a hectic bug and we were dropping like flies over the course of the week. Thankfully it didn’t last too long – a few days, and we were able to get back to work and continue to help out our teams and carry on fixing up the school. By Saturday we had accomplished a fair amount and had put most of the playground in – we just needed to put a few final finishing touches in.
On Friday afternoon we were taken on an outing to a local market which we arrived at a bit ahead of time and had to wait a short time while they set up their wares. The girls had to wear sarongs or kakoys to ensure we were adequately covered and we had to have our shoulders covered as well. This is mainly to adhere to the predominantly Muslim communities views regarding women. Also I don’t think any of us would have liked to have been mistaken for a “pay and take”!
Saturday evening brought along a massive wind which was quite violent as it gusted through our current home. Luckily for us it heralded the coming of a small storm. The rain was a god-send and gave us a brief respite from the otherwise unrelenting heat. It was certainly most welcome after our afternoon of activity playing soccer and netball with the locals. Needless to say we were thrashed quite soundly in both sports! It was great fun however and we all thoroughly enjoyed playing and all the local children were quite fascinated by the “azungus” and we felt a bit like we were on Big Brother with all the attention we received!
Sunday is mostly our chill day (in theory). This Sunday however, we had PT at half past 5! After dragging ourselves out of bed and running a quick 4km we went to work on the finishing touches on our playground. Thank goodness the rain had cooled things down – such a nice change to be working in semi-cool conditions. Stepping back after we were done – we could see how much we had really accomplished during our week here! Not to boast – but Sam said we had produced one of the better playgrounds Quest has done! Go Mixed Core!!
Our work was followed by some fun in the sand and water, with our intake being split into two teams and set against each other in beach volleyball and water rugby. It was such fun for all with elaborate dives and tackles being made. A few minor injuries occurred but all in the name of fun!!
Now we have this afternoon to look forward to! Who knows what awaits us!
Thanks Sam for the wonderful opportunity of working with you and the community! It has been an incredible experience!
Zikomo! (Thank you)
Until next time!