Friday 28th July Day 1
I, Pat Pickering, a Nurse from Paignton and Mike Ansell, Director of Seed Sowers Trust and
Project Leader took off from Heathrow Airport at approx. 10:50, bound for Lilongwe, the
capital of Malawi. We landed at Addis Ababa on Saturday 29th
August 07:30 local time 2 hours ahead of UK time.
The flight from Addis Ababa to Lilongwe was delayed 5 hours due to fog. Should
have left at 09:30 but eventually took off at 14:30. The
flight time to Lilongwe was 3 hours 10 minutes, so we arrived at 17:40 local time 1 hour ahead of UK time.
By this time it was now Saturday 29th July. Here we were met by George Bhima, a Malawian who is the local Link man for Seed Sowers,
the Charitable Trust supporting the Mission. George drove us in the minibus, our means of transport for the
next month, to the Baptist Mission in Lilongwe. This was to be our accommodation for the next 5 days. Here we
met up with Hank Webb, an American and formerly a Naval Medic and Nutritionist, who had just flown in from California to join the team.
Once we had freshened up after our long journey, we all went out to dinner to a place called Moody’s, where we ate Chambo, a local
delicacy, and is a fish caught in Lake Malawi .
Sunday 30th July Day 3
Attended the 07:30 morning service at the Pentecostal Church Area 18, Lilongwe has numbered
districts. We met Esmay, a High Court Judge, along with her Husband Daniel.
Later we took a drive out to Tsoka village. As the cities expand and develop
the native people are pushed out to the fringes. Lilongwe has 700 such villages surrounding it. A TBA Traditional Birth
Attendant Clinic was under construction at Tsoka and Mike wanted to check on
the progress since his last visit a year ago. It turned out to be rather
disheartening for Mike as the clinic was built to roof level last year and it
was still at the same stage after money had been provided to put the roof on.
There appeared to be no enthusiasm amongst the men folk, whilst the women were keen
to get things moving. Mike decided to ‘pull the plug’ on the project as it
were, and take the support elsewhere where there was a greater willingness to help themselves. However, Mike left them with the understanding that should
they get their act together and start to move things along, then Seed Sowers would consider coming back on board.
We drove back to the Baptist Mission and had a relaxing afternoon, then went out to a local Restaurant for dinner.
Monday 31st July Day 4
Went down town shopping for groceries & other items needed for the project. People also bought SIM cards for their
Mobile phones in order that they could use the local Network, filled up with fuel and drove back to the Mission. Mike, Hank and George went back to town later for some electrical
equipment, Pat and I stayed back at the Mission to pack up the bags of nutritional tablets ready for the trip to one of the villages where Pat would be holding a clinic. These tablets are
like a sweet and contain over 30 vegetable extracts, minerals and vitamins.
The children take one per day. We count out 60 tablets into each bag and this is two months supply.
Once again we ate out in the Old Town, which is the
Moslem area of Lilongwe.
Tuesday 1st August Day 5
Went into town to get some photocopying done and also to get more supplies and to buy a set of bathroom scales for
weighing the larger children. Came back to Mission for Lunch where George’s Wife, Rejoice, joined us having travelled
up from Blantyre. We arranged to meet Esmay at her village in the afternoon with the intention of holding a
clinic. The village is quite some way out of Lilongwe and lies near the Airport, it is called M’bango’mbe means Cattle Stealer. The access roads are very poor with no metal surfaces, just dirt. Each
village has its own Chief then there is a paramount Chief over all the villages.
Mike and George were in discussion with the village Chief and the Paramount Chief
regarding building a clinic there for next year. Great enthusiasm was shown
here, much more than the previous day at Tsoka. The welcome we received here
was a moving experience, Hank and myself were quite emotional as a result. Upon our arrival, the vehicle was mobbed by over fifty women and children singing in
harmony and I was taken by the hand and lead into the village totally
surrounded by these people, it was truly amazing. We all sat in a semi circle
whilst Esmay addressed the crowd introducing us all, although some of the team
had been before. The Chief responded by saying that this was our village and we
were part of their community. He said how glad he was to have us there and
that we were most welcome and that he wanted to see us there again in the
This particular village is one of the more advanced in so much as it has a water pump, a washing area with raised laundry tubs. It has a form of
irrigation system using ground ‘run off water’. Pat and Hank got to work on
the clinic as soon as the opening address was over, working 5 hours non stop.
They saw 200 children and 40 adults, they worked until gone eight in the
evening using the vehicle headlights for illumination as it is dark from around
6:00 p.m. We then drove back
to Lilongwe and had a meal at Moody’s where Mike thanked us all for a successful and positive day.
Wednesday 2nd August Day 6
We attended to some last minute business. Later we packed the minibus and around 11:00 a.m. headed off towards Liwonde National
Park to a Safari Lodge called Mvuu. We arrived at
the Park around 4:30 to 5:00 in the afternoon and had to leave the minibus at a ferry point, then we boarded a
boat which took us about half a mile up the Shire pronounced shiray river.
There was a dispute over the so called entrance fee. The sign said the charge was 1,750 Kwacha, which is about £7. It turned out that the man on the gate
wanted that per person per day. Mike and George spent a long while arguing with the man trying to explain that the sign was very misleading and should not
read Entrance Fee but should read Daily Fee. I believe they paid in the end.
This was the first safari and we spent 2 nights here. The accommodation
comprised of thatched roof chalets, some had 2 bedrooms sleeping 4 people and
others were twin bedded. Meals were served in the main lodge which had a bar.
It was a beautiful place abundant with wildlife of which many species wandered freely
around between the chalets where we slept. Such creatures as warthogs, baboons
and hippos were common neighbours. After we had settled into our
accommodation, we assembled for the evening game drive. We were delayed a little as some more people joined our party. Mei
Mei and her daughter Georgina, along with Dave Shastri, his wife Trish and their son Richard had just flown in
from London. Our game drive was an enjoyable trip and we found plenty of game, including water buck, baboons, crocodiles, impala, hippos
and kudu. There were also lots of bird life but no elephants, although there
were signs of them having been in the area but they had moved on.
It was dark by the time we arrived back at the lodge. After dinner we sat and chatted in
the Bar until one by one we drifted off to bed. The dawn chorus around 5:30 a.m. is a sound I shall never forget, even
though at that time in the morning, I wanted to sleep. Before getting into bed
that night, I set up my Mini Disc recorder and microphone ready for switching on early next morning.
Thursday 3rd August Day 7
I managed to record some pretty good sounds of the dawn chorus. After a full English breakfast we were taken on a
River safari. The striking feature of this particular game park was the abundance of bird life. We were also told that there was such a plentiful supply of food
in the river that the crocs had no need to take animals from the banks. Elephants
were sighted but a very long way off and standing in some very tall reeds and as we approached they went deeper into them.
Came back to the lodge and had a buffet lunch. There were a couple of hours to relax then at 16:00 we went out on another game drive. It was just as enjoyable as
the previous evening with an abundance of wildlife, though still no elephants.
The sunsets are quite spectacular in Africa , with the birds quietening as they roost for the night. Then once
again it was back to base for a lovely dinner and a relaxing drink in the bar.