Message from Malawi
Click on arrows to move through pictures.................... Ruth Markus is in Malawi working for the AMECA Trust which assists Malawi with medical aid. She sends details of the devastation and its effects.
Hope all is well with you all and that you are keeping well
I am writing this email under my mosquito net as no power for a change and have my halogen battery light to see by. It has been a very hard day!!
Here is the news for you all from Malawi.........................
A total of 604 houses have been destroyed by the floods and cyclones in the cluster of villages where we will be building the clinic. Went to the main village today to chat to people and see what is going on.; everyone was in very good spirits though and Chilaweni itself is looking very lush and green, with a lot of maize crops. In Chilaweni, they have fresh water from the bole hole, but the other villages are not in a good condition re water and are drinking out of filthy streams. Bridge has held and road in good condition; well good considering the heavy storms we are having. In some ways they are better off than the towns as we have serious water and power issues. (Photos attached )for. Am going back there with some food in a few days time. Conditions tough, but obviously much better off than Mangochi and the Lower Shire. Kids are getting sick though with Malaria and intestinal deseases. Hopefully they will not get Cholera. They need water purification stuff and basic first aid. Will see what I can do.
We had a big meeting re clinic developments and then walked around to look at the damage. Bless them they were really excited to see the architect plans for the clinic.
OK, I have to say this is the hardest time I remember in Malawi; can't remember when life has been this hard and the smallest thing is such a struggle. If ESCOM is actually working then the fierce storms we are having cut us out again!! This may seem trivial, but have had a few really tough evenings wandering round in the dark, looking for candles and when the progress of this project depends on adequate email communication with everyone, it ain't that funny. Still eventually we get some decent internet once we have power.
The experience of learning how everything works here, (or rather doesn't work) is a bit like being 18 again and leaving home. You have to buy units for the electric meter, (not quite sure why as we don't have electricity much!!), you buy gas bottles as no piped gas like home. But then you have to find someone to drill a hole in the wall as you can't keep gas bottle inside so it gores on the khonde (veranda). No automatic DD for utility bills and rather like the UK when we were small, except that nothing really functions at the moment and you need tranquillisers at the banks!!
Of course I am so bloody independent, that I have found it hard to depend on others, but I guess I have to learn. I feel frustrated without a drill, or tools and must get some screwdrivers etc so I can mend things. Funny thing is though, when I do manage something, it is a real achievement.
Have finally managed to get mains water in our house after 6 days; the storage tank is now cleaned and hopefully I can function. Water is polluted though, so will have to put something called Water Guard in the tank. I also have an interesting entomology collection outside the windows which will be exterminated tomorrow as all house guests must have 2 legs or 4 legs and a tail.
It is difficult to describe to you just how hard getting things done is over here; 1.5 hours just to get a gas bottle and regulator for my gas cooker which friends have donated; running around all day trying to get things fixed etc; it is very hot and then we have huge storms some afternoons and the world feels like it is ending; driving is really hazardous and big holes in road sometimes. Some of the locals have obviously totally lost it, which is very sad and pathetic and we see more ragged beggars running around on the main highway, which is really what you need on top of the mini-bus chaos.
The hospitals are in a terrible state and the lack of power has really taken its toll. Lack of everything, as usual and don't want to think about the death rate at the moment.
I don't actually remember Malawi in this bad a state, ever. But you know, having said that, it is still good to be here and friends are wonderful and the Malawians are so damn stoic and kind. I am actually taking some pride in making a home here, even though I have a rather strange collection of donated furniture and so forth and the place is actually starting to look nice and it is fun collecting bits and pieces.
If this seems a frivolous comment, all I can tell you is that it is these stupid little nest-building domestic moments that keep you sane out here, otherwise, it really would be too depressing to handle and we all need a roof over our heads and a bed and a shower to face the next day's challenges.
Project going forwards slowly; we now have build costs and Dept of Health happy with our plans.
So that's it from here; frog chorus outside and the rain has held off.
Will send if and when we get some power!!
Love Ruthie xxx