Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Today marks the midpoint of our trip and the start of a new week. After taking the day off yesterday to explore the areas outside of Blantyre, we resumed our visits to the Kumponda communities.

Once again, we went to meet up with the AFES team at the Kumponda group village headman’s home before heading out to visit a new community. We are starting to become regulars here.  The children are getting even more comfortable and warm with us playing around and holding our hands.

The children of Kumponda village are always excited to see us.
This visit was to Kamwendo, which would be our most remote community yet. Although it was only a 15 minute car ride from the main road where the Lunzu trading center is, it is a very large distance for a community that primarily travels by foot and sometimes by bicycle.

These women carry these containers full of water up to several miles a day for their families.

It was apparent that the distance significantly impacts the ability of the community to access services, especially healthcare. We met some families that only get to the main road once a year. The desperateness of this community was even greater than others that we have visited, which is largely to their remoteness.

A Kamwendo mother comforts her sleeping child

Many of the families here very seldom access healthcare facilities due to the fact that the Mulambe hospital in Lunzu is a private and is too expensive for them. The public hospital that has free services takes a full day for them to get to, making a visit to the hospital a several day journey.

The primary issues of this community are similar to those of other that we have visited though they all center around economic deprivation. Hunger is a major problem in Kamwendo, largely due to lack of funds to buy fertilizer for their crops.

Even in the face of all of this hardship, the spirit of the Kumponda community at large is positive and impressive. It has been encouraging to see how happy and playful the community children have been in spite of their situation.

The children of Kumponda village
When I was first invited to be a professional mentor on this trip, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Though I have been doing a lot of work in Africa, I knew that Malawi would be very different from the countries that I have traveled to and have been working in. What has surprised me the most is how positive and peaceful the people are here although this is one of the most underdeveloped places on the planet. There is so much we can all learn from these people about how to make the best of a difficult situation and how to persevere in the face of hardship. 


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