As much as most everyone is really a good and nice person, I have noticed that Malawi's race relations feel like that of 1970s USA. I have been noticing this more and more. The whites and ex-pats have the money for the most part, and the black Africans don't. They also get treated differently. At the hospital, if you are white, you can walk through pretty much any door without any questions asked, while black Malawians get stopped and questioned about why they need to get through and often turned away. When I was at the soccer game one guy walking passed yelled "Azungu, go over there!" obviously pointing toward the expensive seats. It seemed very apparent by the surprise and range of reception that I got that the Mzungus don't go to the game on that side. Even in the minibuses because I am a white girl they often direct me to the front seat as if I somehow deserve it, I know they are just being nice but... It's strange too because a lot of the folks that are perpetuating these barriers are of the same color as the suppressed. Like the guards at the hospital doors who let me through but then question all the others, the guard is a black African as well.
This afternoon was a super refreshing experience as I and three of my cohorts went to Tidzalerana, which is Blantyre's club for children and families of people with disabilities. We also got to see the Tidzalerana home which is a permanent home for adults with disability. It was great, we came in to the place to find a lecture to the mom's about how they can enroll their children in a daily morning program through a government/school program (or maybe it was another NGO). Then we helped the children with spasticity stretch out on the yoga balls, and also have fun bouncing as well. Yvette and Liz were in the back doing crafts and reading stories to some of the older children. Liz made friends with this beautiful little girl named Loveness.
Loveness looks to be about 4 or 5. She is deaf, so I immediately fell in love with her and tried to tell her she was pretty (with ASL). She has no signs and I am not sure if there is sign language in Malawi, other than what people make up to communicate the basics. So she and another boy whose name I didn't catch were deaf and so smart and cute and...I think I have found were best I can help Malawi.
I gave Pastor Mike, a Canadian Presbyterian minister my email, he sends out a newsletter about Tidzalerana he may add me to. I hope he does because this program is near and dear to my heart and am so glad I got the opportunity to see what they are doing. It may be one of the few in its kind in Malawi but it is a gem.
The program was held in a church in the part of Blantyre called Ndirande. Ndirande is much more what you picture when you think of African neighborhoods. It is poor, very condensed, lots of people and kids out walking, and they were surprised to see Mzungus around. It was a refreshing change from the guarded walls we live in, in the same neighborhood as the VP of Malawi (needless to say, it's RICH). It is nice to go and be in a place that it feels like your presence and your gifts may really be appreciated and badly needed.
Kids outside the car laughing as we sang their names in the name song "Vanessa-essa Bo Bessa..."
This is Loveness, I have a few more of her cuz she was so adorable!!!