VOLUNTEER UPDATE FROM KATE – Week 11 26th June 2015
I’m writing this on Wednesday evening as there’s a power cut and I’m sitting with a candle and nothing else to do! I want to get it posted asap tomorrow before the Internet goes off again. It’s been fine this week. At school I’ve been filming more case studies. I talked to a boy and a girl from Std 4, with the help of Mr Chulu translating to Chichewa in parts! I also talked to a secondary school student, Salome, who went to MOET and comes back to use the library. It’s the kind of place people like popping back to, and are remembered by friends and teachers after they have left. It sounds like secondary school is quite demanding.
Salome has 9 subjects a day, as well as evening study. There are 52 pupils in her class! She wants to be a doctor – she said that since people have helped her in her life, she wants to be able to help others in theirs. She is very grateful to her sponsors who have enabled her to go to secondary school.
I’ve been reading a good book recently, by a Malawian guy who grew up very poor, couldn’t afford school fees but read about physics at the school library. During the famine of 2001, he managed to build a windmill out of random materials he found at a scrapyard. His neighbours thought his idea was crazy but eventually his windmills were able to provide electricity and water to his whole village! It’s an amazing story. But a line from the book that stuck with me was like “most people in my country spend entire lifetimes watching their dreams fade.” From what I’ve seen, that has a real ring of truth. I suppose that’s the case all over the world. People’s aspirations get snuffed out by life-limiting poverty. It makes me feel ridiculously lucky. I have a future ahead of me that I can look forward to living. I can expect to have enough money, and therefore to have choices. It seems like so many people don’t get the luxury of choices.
Standard 7 were writing an English composition the other day, about their future plans. Plenty say they want to go to England, but some haven’t even been to Mangochi town, 25km away. The jobs they want to do included a policeman, a nurse, a soldier, a hotel manager, an accountant, an engineer. I really hope some of them make it. They so deserve it. It makes me even more enthusiastic about MOET and the work of Fomoe. Thanks to Fomoe and the sponsors, most of them will get to go to secondary school, and get such a better chance at life. So there is hope!
In other news MOET played some friendly games against Mgereza Primary last Friday and won both the football and the netball! So many kids were there to support the teams. They were running around the pitch waving tree branches and chanting songs! It was a nice Friday-ish atmosphere and the teachers were chatting on the sidelines and the sun was going down. I was glad to be there and a part of it all, because it does just feel normal now, to be part of MOET.
At school, I know people, they know me, and so I’m Kate, not The Azungu. Thank God. I get so sick being The Azungu everywhere else. Can’t leave the house without being stared at, or pointed at, waved to, shouted at, talked about. None of it is in a menacing sort of way, it’s all friendly enough. But still, it gets pretty tiring to be made to feel constantly like some kind of animal in a zoo, a curiosity. Being white puts up an automatic barrier – you’re straightaway seen as a Different Species. I guess most don’t wonder what it’s like to be on the receiving end of that. Although now lots of village kids have combined Azungu with Kate, so now as I go by I’m greeted with cries of ‘Kattu’!
Well that’ll be the end of my ramblings for another week.
Oh one more thing actually, just that the other day I bought a sugar cane from the market for 20 Kwacha (about 3p) it’s looks like a long thick stick of wood, but you can scrape off the outside part and chew it, all sweet and juicy on the inside. Found that cool! Anyway, photographs: