|Breakfast at the hotel started the day- I knew a lot of energy would be needed, so I downed 3 bowls of corn flakes instead of two. The team split up once we got to downtown Blantyre. Jan & Heidi took a stroll down artisan’s row at the market and came away with some unique jewelry and giraffes made from recycled tin. The things Africans can do with scrap metal and items we would consider trash is truly amazing. Unable to find a hanging scale to properly weigh our luggage to meet airline restrictions, the girls settled on a bathroom scale in the shape of a pink cat saying “mew mew”- bet that one was on the clearance table for quite some time.
Greg and Francis had a morning full of errands that had to be done today. The pressure was on immediately as our first stop was our favorite, the National Bank of Malawi. Intending to pick up our Mwana Mission checkbook, we were told that our original form requesting this was “not there”, so we filled out another form in the hopes of getting it by 2013. They did have an ATM card in my name ready, so that was exciting, except for the fact that it was good only in Malawi & it expired in 6 months. Altogether, we went to 6 different bank stations in 1.5 hours to accomplish this feat.
From there we went to the Government Building-Lands division, to pick up all the forms necessary to have our newly acquired piece of land surveyed and deeded. We then picked up Heidi & Jan and proceeded to the Congoma Office, the branch of the govt. responsible for overseeing applications of NGO’s (Non-Government Organizations). We picked up the appropriate forms there for Mwana Mission to be registered as a duty-free charity in Malawi. The pieces of the puzzle were coming together.
We also drove to PAMET to pick up our order (which may require an additional suitcase) and to Bangwe Weaving to pick up our order there (which wasn’t correct, but at this point it really didn’t matter) Somewhere in the middle of all that city driving we also sat in a line of cars(queue) waiting for diesel for 45 minutes. Count your blessings in America as this gas shortage is going to get worse and uglier in Malawi.
We finally returned to the AOG guesthouse around 4:00pm to meet a very distressed Faktor Mbewe-the 80 year old cook in residence I had mentioned earlier in the journal. We all sat down and had a private talk with him, in which he told us he had just received a 2 week notice in the mail from AOG headquarters informing him that his services would no longer be needed at the end of this month. He and his assistant Steve are working for the equivalent of $2.25 dollars A DAY with free housing on the property. Keep in mind they each are supporting a wife and 3-5 children/grandchildren because their own children/relatives have died. It suddenly became apparent that the practice of downsizing the senior workforce for profit had made its way across the ocean and found roots in Africa. As a team, the Mwana Mission will be assisting him in some fashion, because it is an injustice and as Christians, we feel God guiding us on this one.
We then met with Eric & Gilbert, two local artisans who do spectacular paintings, jewelry and stationery items. Negotiations took about 90 minutes, but all parties left happily. Faktor & Steve then made a nice spaghetti dinner for us and the remainder of the evening was spent organizing our remaining donated goods for disbursement over the next two days. The end of the journey is drawing near…..