On to Balaka and the orphans

Thursday, October 05, 2006
Balaka, Malawi
This is another WOW day as we see some tremendous progress in our Malawi projects. Bev and I are just so excited to see this first-hand and how people's lives are changed for the better.

Dr. Sam Chilopora drove from Blantyre to Balaka. He was to have a trailer connected to the ambulance so that the Chilopora's, Bill and Cheryl Jahns and Bev and I could all go together to Lake Malawi for the Feast of Tabernacles. The trailer never got delivered and it was decided that Bill and Cheryl would go directly from Blantyre to the Lake with Henry and Cindy Khembo.

Dr. Chilopora is 77 years old, but amazing in his energy level. He still sees 20-30 patients every day at the Chizeni fifth Health Centre along with his nurse wife Esther who is 74. He wanted me to drive the 100 miles back to Balaka which I really enjoyed doing. We passed by one of the biggest open air markets that is open on Friday. Hundreds of vendors were selling EVERYTHING. For fifteen miles past the open air market we saw people walking away from the markets carrying unbelievable loads on their heads. At points past the market they were already reselling the items they had bought at market.

We drove directly to the Chizeni Clinic in Balaka where a portion of the 200 orphans of the LifeNets Orphan Care Centre were waiting to greet us. It's always such an exciting event as they noisily greet us with singing. At first we were greeted by the grandmothers, then by other guardians and the orphans.

This time I was able to meet some of the managers of the program besides Dr. Chilopora. One was a competent young woman named Irina James that seemed to be the "traffic director" of all the activity. She is the chairman of the LifeNets Orphan Care Centre. There is a committee of four that includes a treasurer and secretary. The Centre provides food, medicine and education for the guardians. We have also provided clothing and blankets. We were able to see the 230 blankets that the ladies in the Portland and other Northwest United Churches of God provided. They are safely stored for distribution when the weather turns colder. Right now in Malawi it's spring and time for the rainy season to begin. For this season mosquito nets are needed.

Part of our visit with the orphans was to distribute mosquito nets. Christina Davis, and eighteen year old young lady from Portland, Oregon raised $5000 for mosquito nets mostly to be distributed from the Chizeni Clinic here in Balaka. We started that distribution here with Beverly handing out nets. The initial distribution is for 500 nets with more than 2000 to follow. We have also provided nets in Lilongwe, Blantyre and for the Zambians. Dr. Chilopora is able to get four poster nets as low as 80 cents apiece through a subsidized program, so Christina's fundraising is going a LONG WAY!

This the fifth year that LifeNets has sponsored the care of 200 orphans under age five. They come from an adjacent village to Balaka called Mpulula. This area is predominantly Muslim. The chief from Mpulula came to greet us this time. She had written to us before, but this is the first time I had met her. She is Muslim, very modest and very kind and very caring about the children.

We were told that if this orphan program would not be in place, mortality of the children under age five would be as high as 50% in the five year period.

Life is not easy here and it's so difficult to get things turn our right. Animals get into things, people steal things, the government interferes and the weather is unpredictable. In the midst of all these obstacles we still are joyful that we can get SOME things right.

From Balaka we drove on about 30 miles in the ambulance to Ntcheu where Dr. and Mrs. Chilopora live. Things do see a bit better than in former visits. We passed by the witch doctor on the way to their home in Ntcheu. Even she has spruced up her place.

It was dark and the road very dangerous with many bikers and pedestrians. There are many bikers hit by vehicles and I can see why.

At the Chilopora's we had dinner. We gave their granddaughter Chiku an mp3 player and tried to help her with some computer problems on her laptop.

What a full day! Bev and I are just happy to be here and visit.
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