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News & Updates

Malawi Trip, Entry 4

› Posted July 22, 2010

July 14 | Blantyre to Little Field Orphanage (Chigamba Village near Nyenje Trading Centre), Malawi

Another new development—or perhaps a repeat new development. After loading up and heading out of Blantyre, we stopped at a ShopRite for provisions then began our drive on the Zomba Highway. After only about 15 miles along the paved, though bumpy road, the top carrier collapsed again. Everything had to be taken off the top and loaded inside along with the 8 of us.

Zomba was the next large population center and we arrived about 11:00. With a little guidance, we found someone who had top carriers and feet that would serve our needs. It took about 5 hours, some searching for steel to allow our carrier to fit the new feet, a local welder, and a great deal of patience, to get us back on the road.

Then, as we headed out of Zomba, another new development came upon us. For the first time in our experience in Malawi we came upon a speed zone equipped with a camera. Although I tend to drive under the speed limits—50 kph in this and most residential areas—the police had their camera set up at the bottom of a hill and caught me doing 61 kph. Apparently this location is lucrative for them as we saw many pulled over and we later learned that both Janet Littlefield and Bill, had been caught in the same place only recently.

I was given a citation and told to pay the fine (MK 5000) to a police officer who sat near by on a log. The entire episode was conducted in a friendly manner, and I did my best to maintain a pleasant demeanor as well, but given the day’s events, my normal effort to maintain safe speeds, and our reason for being there, the citation was somewhat difficult to take. None-the-less, I was glad to see that some effort was being carried out to reduce driving speed in at least this location. Malawian drivers, and especially minibus drivers, tend to drive too fast through congested areas.

With the delays, we were once again forced to drive in the dark and, at times, it seemed we were not on the right road. We reached Liwonde, on the Shire River, which is familiar to Clarice and I from previous visits, just after dusk. Our turnoff from there seemed obvious enough but we then rode for many miles, up a steep grade, with few trade centers along the way.

At one point, we came upon a typical police gate across the road and were glad to have opportunity to get assurance that we were on the right road. For some reason they made a point that my bicycle, on the front-mounted rack, was illegal but we told them that placement of the bicycle had not been mentioned by other officers. We were able to get them to focus on helping us with directions and Clarice gave one officer a pen—always a desired item—and we were on our way.

We reached the turn off at Nyenje Trading Centre and then found the dirt road that led to Little Field Orphanage. After another 5-6 km, we came upon our destination and children started to pour out of the gate as we drove onto the compound. There was a lot of excitement amongst the children and local people, and Janet and Bill were glad to see us. However, we hardly received any greetings from the volunteers who had been with us a few days before at Ntchisi Forest Lodge.

It was about 7:30 when we arrived and the children were having reading time along with the volunteers. As much as possible, the volunteers were reading with 1-2 children in the room where we sat down to eat dinner. The noise level was significant and we had a difficult time in talking with Bill and Janet. We learned some things about the operation of the orphanage and could readily tell that conditions were far more primitive than what we experienced at the SOS facility or any other place we had visited.

We were lodged in an old clinic outfitted with bunk beds. After another difficult day, we were ready for sleep.