Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Tuesday, October 13: Lilongwe, Malawi

This morning after breakfast we were off to the Parliament complex which is located very near our hotel. Since Justin is a Member of Parliament (MP) we could go anywhere with him.  It is a lovely area – very impressive – for Africa.

A bit of history – In 1964 Malawi won its independence from Britain, so it is a fairly new independent country.  In the past several decades there has been a lot of corruptions – in fact the last President who died in office was worth billions of dollars, all taken illegally.  Poverty is extremely high, less than one dollar per day wages, and a whole generation of people are gone due to the HIV virus. One half of the population is under 18 years of age.

After our tour of the Parliament complex we went to look about a new, used, tires for the vehicle at a roadside tire shop.  The spare we put on last night was not the best, so we drove at a slower speed than usual. At the roadside tire shop Justin bought replacements for all 4 tires.  The rear tires are now larger so he has more clearance during the rainy season.  After the deal was made the first thing they did was place a bench under a tree where we could sit while they changed all 4 tires and the spare. 
Malawi Parliament Chambers

Our friend the Honorable Justin MP

Rachel and Cal in the Parliament Chambers

People watching is always an experience in itself, but sitting alongside a busy street was very interesting.  I kept the camera on my knee and took photos of people going by without them knowing I was doing so.  We also did a lot of chatting about the needs in Malawi.  They need everything.  Things that we feel are trash have a value to them, the issue is transportation to get things here. Justin is a visionary type person.  He has lots of hopes, dreams and ideas of ways to help his people.  Like I said earlier, he has a PASSION for Malawi.

The Bicycle, a popular mode of transportation - A root crop

A mother and her child 

A father and his two children

Cal and I should have brought another suitcase full of calculators - you ask where we get calculators – These calculators are simple solar units. They were made for ACT Testing; however, they were made to include the square root function which was not wanted by ACT Testing.  So the calculaters were totally trash, even though they are absolutely good calculators. The calculators were given to a recycling company in Iowa City to shred.  The recycling company asked if they had to be destroyed or if they could be given away.  Destruction was not necessary, they simply wanted these trash calculators to go away.  Rotarians in Iowa have been giving them to local elementary schools of which we did in all of Henry County (the county in which Mt Pleasant is located).  We still have boxes of calculators in our garage.  We should have taken our one small suitcase as carry-on luggage and checked-in another large one full of supplies to be left here. The two pieces of luggage we are leaving here were given to us for this purpose.  Here again these suitcases were give-away by our standards, but they are still functional and will still be used here.      

We were sitting in the lovely shade chatting away about the needs of Malawi when all of a sudden there was a truck off the road on the dusty shoulder about 300 feet from us.  We saw the aftermath of a truck hitting a guy on a bicycle!!! the guy never moved!  NOT GOOD!!  The bicycle was mashed flat. The truck did stop and they loaded the guy onto the back of the truck which took him to the hospital. But it definitely did not look promising.  Just an awful thing to witness.  If the truck would not have stopped, later there would have been “mob justice”.  They would have found the driver and he would have been stoned.  However I must say I cannot believe it doesn’t happen all the time.  Bicycles are everywhere and trucks are moving at fast rates of speed.

The tire changing operation took 2 hours!! We were thankfull for the bench under “the tree” so we could sit down while waiting.  In true African style it was "the tree"!  Due to the heat during the day, people always gather under a tree – sitting on benches if they have them or just simply sitting on the ground in the shade. 
The Tyes

Tyre transportation

By mid-afternoon we returned to the hotel so we could rest. We have plans to meet a local Rotarian and possibly two tonight for dinner at 6:30. Their regular meeting time is Thursday evening, but this week is a special event and they are meeting at a venue out of town, plus by Thursday evening we will be out of town too. 

At dusk (5:30) we went outside on the hotel patio for a beverage and to enjoy the beautiful evening. As the sun goes down, so does the temperature plus it seems there is always a breeze in Africa.  We remember this from before too. 

Justin and us had a wonderful meeting with the Rotary Club Secretary, of the club with whom we did the solar panel grant, over dinner tonight (other persons interested in meeting were out of town). This Rotary Club is extremely active in doing Rotary Global Grants to improve the lives of people in Malawi.  Lots of good ideas/needs were discussed.  Decisions have to be made as to which idea has priority. 

Tomorrow we have to be packed by 11:00 when Justin will pick us up to head out of town to the rural areas.
A Shopping Mall

Another type of Shopping Mall

The Traditional Rotary Banner Exchange


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