Thursday, October 22, 2015

Saturday, Oct 17, 2015: Third Mobile Medical Clinic and Trip Back to Lilongwe

The morning began with our last breakfast on the deck by the lake.  The fishermen were coming in with their nighty catch.  They work in groups of 5-6 small boats with a net.  There is a scout who will dive to see if any fish are in the area before they put down their nets into the lake. They will create a circle, capturing the fish as they close the net.

By 9:00 we were off to the 3rd mobile medical clinic.  It was a long drive on dirt roads that turned into bush roads.   The dirt roads have not seen a road grader in at least 10 years!!! And the bush roads have never seen a grader!! We thought we would never arrive!!  But all of a sudden a school was in our sites and there was a crowd waiting for us.  The chiefs were all sitting on chairs in the shade of the school veranda.  The rest were trying to stay in the shade of the trees.  They are building on a new school building, out of cement blocks instead of bricks – not sure what NGO donated the money for this.  Honestly any improvements are being done by NGO’s, not by their own government. The government does not have money to do anything.  The last President, who died young, was guilty of “cashgate” – they found billions of dollars stashed in rooms of the Presidential mansion when he died. As to where it went, after it was found, no one seems to know!! But 98% of the people live in poverty – earning less than $1.00 per day. 
Typical Scene along the Road
An Unusual Corn Field and Vegetable Gardens
An Open Market
Cattle being Herded along the road

Fields Worked and ready for planting Just before the Rainey Season

Notice the Tree Stumps left in the Field

Stacking Bricks ready for Firing

A Brick Pile being Fired to Cure the Bricks
An Open Market in Mangochi

Houses along the Road

There were the usual ceremonies, however today an agent with the government Development Department and a representative from the government Education Department were also there.   After the last speaker, people jumped up to form a line, each with their own little “health booklet”.  These health booklets are their own personal Medical Record History.  Anytime they see a medical person it is recorded in the booklet.
People waiting for the Clinic

Justin Talking to the People

The Line-up of the Chiefs

The Head Chief Talking

Lining up their medical booklets to determine the order of consultation

The Consultation

Pharmacist Dispensing Medication
The one school building had the solar panel on its roof.  The electrified room was locked, but the Head Master opened it.  Three lights were working – the 4th one was broken and the replacement (Chinese) bulb did not fit the India made socket.  And the adaptor to charge cell phones was not working correctly.  Justin will be checking into this situation.

A Walk Through the Village - Fence around this House

Building a New House

Brick Layers

Young Man (Second from Left) took me to his House

Young Man's Father

Giving away Free Water Bottles

The media was planning to attend this medical clinic, but they did not show up, or were working on African time.  Plans were made for us to return to Lilongwe via a different vehicle and driver, so Justin & Jane could stay for the fourth medical clinic on Sunday, however, they had wanted us to stay until the media arrived. It was getting later and later and we still had to drive the whole way back to Lilongwe.  We said our Good-Byes’ and Thank You’s to Justine & Jane, so that at 3:30 we left even if the media had not yet arrived.  (We did meet them on the road about 15 minutes later).  We had not gone far when we realized our driver did not know how to get to the tarmac road!!  He asked people along the road at least 4 times, due to little signage anywhere.  We bounced, bounced, bumped and bumped down the road, 1 hour, 1 ½ hours and 2 hours before we finally arrived at the tarmac road.  Wow!! We arrived by a different route and were much farther south than where we wanted to be.  We had driven 2 ½ hours!  We drove another hour before we arrived at Mangochi where we stopped for vehicle gas, rest rooms and a small cup of ice cream. By now it is pitch black, and people are all along the side of the road either walking or biking, as it was Saturday night. At least we knew we were on the right road, but the driver still did not know for sure how to get to Lilongwe.  He again asked in several villages along the way.  We were pretty sure we knew the way, and after a while signage for Lilongwe began to appear at intersections.   
The Road we Drove

Notice the worked ground next to the house

Driving Through a Village


Also we were not sure how much English our driver knew.  He spoke basically none, but he did seem to understand some of what we said. 
The drive to Mangochi from Lilongwe took Justin 3 ½ hours, so the return will take us at least that long as we have a smaller vehicle.  We were looking at the time and realized it would be at least 11:00 pm before we made it back to the hotel in Lilongwe. We are going to sleep-in tomorrow morning!  We are tired!! When driving in rural areas the number of walkers and bikers along the side of the road was minimal, but near villages, it was crazy busy, plus you would meet more cars in the villages.  The oncoming head lights made it difficult to see those along the side of the road. 
Between Mangochi and Lilongwe there is a mountain pass, which has a steep climb, with sharp hairpin curves, so you do not make good time in this kind of driving conditions. 
After 7 ½ hours on the road we pulled into the Walmont Hotel in Lilongwe. Thrilled that we made it by 11:15!!! And safely! Driving after dark in Malawi is not a relaxing thing to do!  After we had done so going to Mangochi, we did not want to do it again, but here we were doing it all over again. Plus we had hoped to see the mountain pass area in the daylight, to see the landscape.  
At about 11:30, after we checked into the reservation we had made earlier in the week, Cal opened our email accounts.  What!! We had two messages from the airlines we were using to fly to Zambia. They have moved our flight time from 13:45 (1:45 pm) to 9:30 am!! I quickly send them a response that we had received the message, and we would indeed be at the airport in the morning for a 9:30 am flight.  This ruined our whole plan of sleeping-in Sunday am.!!  Instead we were up at 6:00 am!! So glad we had looked at our email. 

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