Up to Lilongwe, Malawi

Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Lilongwe, Malawi
Today we leave for Balaka and on to Lilongwe. First, Mark Phiri, the member of Parliament, drops by to bring a package that he and his wife want us to take to their daughter Tiamo who goes to DePaul University in Greencastle, Indiana. He also owns a very large commercial poultry operation. We want to make our LifeNets poultry operation successful and ask him some questions. He is more than happy to advise us and even let us see their proprietary manual on poultry-raising. We want our person who has started the poultry enterprise in Blantyre to move towards a bit more free range on his laying hens instead of the method he uses which has more risks and require more high-priced feed. Mark P. will give us his designs on nesting boxes and other features of a chicken coop. All important information to increase egg production.
Gracious Mpilangwe arrives promptly at 9:00 am and we're off. First fill up the car with petrol. Another $80 fill. I still can't get over how these people deal with this $8 a gallon gas! Then to bank to change more money. The largest bill as I've mentioned is equivalent to about $3.80. So, we get a big wad of currency. Hardly any place take credit cards, but is "in the process."  
The drive to Balaka takes a little over one and a half hours. The scenery of Malawi is beautiful . One noticeable item for sale is charcoal for cooking. The land has been stripped of trees in the past 20 years to make charcoal. Now people are going deeper into the interior of the country to fell trees to make charcoal. They cut a tree into logs, light a fire and cover it with dirt to slow the combustion. That's basically how the charcoal is made. The government has been trying to stop this destructive practice, but the people are resisting, saying: "Give us an alternative!"
For a while the government outlawed commercial areas on the main highway to operate on both sides of the road. People were crossing and there were many accidents. We arrive in Balaka and drive straight through to the Chizeni Clinic. Dr. Chilopora is waiting for us an we will continue on with him to Lilongwe later. It is really great to see the clinic. The last time we were here was two years ago at this time of year. The huge 400 plus meter wall is done-all except for the razor wire on top. The wire has been bought-just needs to be installed. We want to again thank the United Church of God young adults for their generous support for this project that was so vitally necessary to provide a secure environment for growing food for our orphans. The circumference of our wall is 450 meters and encloses that amount of land which appears to be about two acres. They have planted mango, walnut, papaya, maize and all sorts of vegetables that will be used to help feed the orphans. The Chizeni Clinic houses our LifeNets Orphan Care Centre which was established in 2003 and cares for 200 orphans under the age of five in this community.  
Dr. Chilopora and his wife Esther are leaving for South Africa for the Church Festival and shutting the clinic down during this time, so it's very quiet. We miss the sound of the orphans that we had seen on previous visits.
The clinic is beautifully maintained. The inside is spotless. We are pleased with the entire Clinic venture that LifeNets has helped with since 2001.

We were also very happy to see the water cistern/tank system working. Back on the 2002 container we provided a water purification system that we bought in southern Indiana. It's a system designed to work off a car battery in remote areas and produces chorine gas. It's taken some time for them to get the cistern and tank working with the purification system, but now it's working and has been since we've visited last. The missionary group in Underwood, Indiana will be happy to receive this report as this is the only place in Malawi using their process.
During the rainy season rain water from the sheet metal roof goes into the 10 foot by 10 foot by 10 foot cube cistern. From there it is pumped up into a tank. After the tank it flow into a drum inside the clinic. The water purification system is between the tank and drum.
It was only about a week ago that the blankets that were donated by the Whittier Alternative School in Sedalia, Missouri arrived. There were 100 blankets and 250 toys. Half the blankets will go to the orphans and the balance divided up between the Lilongwe and Blantyre churches.  

We then drove 30 miles to Dr. Chilopora's home in Ntcheu accompanied by his visiting grandson Mphatso meaning "Gift.". There we met his wife Esther. We feel so much at home here. The Chilopora's have been special and dear friends to us over the years and a joy to work with. They spoke lovingly of the LifeNets summer project workers Phil Myers, Aaron Blue and, of course, Jennifer Myers. They also saw Jennifer when she was in Lilongwe teaching the LifeNets Business 101 class.  
Esther prepared a tasty meal of chicken, rice, nsima and vegetables. To drink we had water and squash....orange concentrate with water.
We all leave for Lilongwe. The Chilopora's will be proceeding on to South Africa from Lilongwe. We will be in Lilongwe for the Day of Atonement and then go to Lake Malawi for the Feast.
I drive the ambulance. It has held up well in the four years that they have had it. The roads are rough and they are on their third set of tires. Even though you are on Malawi's main highway, there are people and lots of children right off the road. Lots of them! On some sections of the highway, the highway itself is the boundary between Mozambique and Malawi. Sunset is 5:30 and the last hour of our three hour drive is in complete darkness. Complete because there are no road or street lights. Also, there is a very short twilight period-then blackness!
We had to wind our way all through the center of the Lilongwe through a traffic jam in blackness to the Titanic Lodge were are staying. We did have a sinking feeling several times as we tried to find it, but finally did.
It's very nice and elaborate....Dr. Chilopora then drove away with the ambulance to his daughter Margaret's where he and Esther are staying. Dr. Chilopora will translate my sermon into Chewa tomorrow morning.
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