We’re on our third day in Malawi, currently in Blantyre but soon to depart for the Lake and the District Conference. Yesterday we toured Beit Cure, an amazing orthopedic hospital that is part of the International Cure Organization. It’s a private hospital that receives US funding, but has already managed to institute a program that allows them to generate a third of the money needed annually; primarily they charge adults for their medical procedures and then use that money to fund the free orthopedic services for children. In the afternoon, we ventured out to Mt. Mulounje; the third highest mountain in Africa. We didn’t get a chance to climb the mountain, but we did take some beautiful photographs of the impressive peak and the surrounding tea plantations. We made a brief stop at a local coffee roaster and had a crash course in determining coffee quality. Tamara and Robin were in heaven; we had to physically restrain them from climbing into the bins of roast beans!
May 9, 2010
Today we set off on Kenyan Airways to cross the Zambia/Malawi border. We had to leave some of our belongings (and souvenirs) with our friends in Lusaka in order to comply with the KA baggage weight limits. Hopefully they will make it through the bus trip to Lake Malawi and rejoin us at the conference! We entered the country uneventfully and met up with Rotarians from the Lilongwe Club, including GSE Chair Hutch Mthinda. We deposited our bags at our host homes and headed for the evening Rotary meeting and presentation. Tomorrow the plan is for David to visit the embassy and the rest of us to tour Lilongwe in the morning, then we’ll hop on a bus for a five hour ride to beautiful Blantyre.
May 7, 2010
Lake Kasiba was amazing! Many of us had never before seen a lake that wasn’t surrounded by lake houses and marinas. We picknicked by the clear water, admiring the fiery red dragonflies and watching the vervet monkeys play on the opposite shore. Most of the locals avoid the lake; there are many stories of supernatural happenings. Some say the lake has no bottom, and the spirits that live in the depths have grabbed swimmers and spirited them away, never to be seen again. It is said that fish caught in the lake cannot be killed and eaten, and misfortune will fall on anyone who tries.
May 6, 2010
We arrived in Luanshya last night. In true Zambian fashion, we had an enormous amount of delicious food at a braai. We met the famous PDG Patrick Coleman and wife Sherri who offered extra support for our team. This morning we had the choice to either do something vocational or rest, and the Team did a bit of both. After lunch with our hosts, we gathered to visit Zamefa, a metal fabrications plant. We saw how the recently smelted copper is transformed into copper wire and then into power cables. Tomorrow we are going on a hike to Lake Kasiba; we’re all looking forward to that!
May 4, 2010
A fabulous day! This morning, we toured a local underground copper mine (well, all of us but Robin, whose claustrophobia kicked in at the last second), experiencing two different shafts, the pump house and the winch house, which controls the mine shaft elevators. It was amazing to be inside the Earth that way, and we learned a great deal. If only I were able to post photographs! We all have a great respect for the miners; they work in extreme conditions – some areas of the mine are sweltering, some are partially flooded – and yet their attitudes are upbeat. They are proud to earn their living through hard work, and they could write the book on teamwork. In the afternoon, we had vocational activities. Dee went to a local hospital; Robin spent time with the TV station, David observed city government officials (and a truly hilarious retired attorney), Tamara visited the Sarah Rose Children’s Home, and I visited the local animal welfare organization. We all thoroughly enjoyed learning how our vocations are done here in Zambia. I think we’re all a little more appreciative of the facilities and technological advances back home that we take for granted.