Newsletter March 2010
„Lain, lain go away (lain = rain)
please come back another day....”

So sing the children in the rainy season.
The downpour which has flooded so many houses here in central and southern Malawi is now missing in the north, where the concern for the corn crop is growing.

Coming back here after almost 1.5 years, having lived and worked in the country for nine months in 2008, was very impressive. We actually found everything the way we had left it, only our view of the Malawian reality was very different.
To do justice to the continent and to reasonably cope with everything, we had to stop seeing things through European eyes.

We were welcomed with great affection, but also with a respectful distance by the Kunyumba staff and "our children". We were glad to be able to spend some time alone with Maaike to begin with, so she could inform us of all the peculiarities and looming problems. What’s more, each child has his own individual background with his strengths and weaknesses or disabilities, which need to be taken into consideration.
But now we will give you an update on our children:

Not surprisingly Missy, who is now crawling, turned into a Sunnyboy, for he is properly spoiled by everyone.

Ruthie continues to make remarkable progress. She is completely fixated on Diethelm. She loves the daily walking/ balance exercise with him.

Mtima, who is severely disabled by a mental meningitis, is just enjoying his freedom in Kunyumba (see Newsletter Sept. 09). He is happy when there is food and he never gets tired of playing with his bottle caps.

Sem is a quiet boy, much too serious for his age and a little learning-and speech-impaired. However he completely blooms when he can help in the garden.

Memory, is now able to attend a boarding school (50 € / month). During school holidays, she spends time with us and is a welcome guest. She is a great help and participates fully.

Earlier this year, Mary (9 years old) came to us. She is an orphan. Mary is very intelligent and unfortunately she is often bored. She is simply missing an appropriate playmate.

Our 15 year old Joyce a is a very special challenge. Because of her epilepsy (which has never been treated), she is mentally retarded and is also very stubborn and moody. One of the only times we saw her completely happy, was when a group of musicians visited us. She surprised us all with her sense of rhythm and joy of dancing.
Diethelm is currently trying to ensure that she gets prescribed the 3-month contraceptive injections to prevent pregnancy. A positive decision in favor of the patient doesn`t depend on the "doctors", but on Diethelm’s successful advocacy in the clan, for they must unanimously agree to it.

Yesterday, Ibrahim (9 years old) came to Kunyumba for the first time. During a severe malaria crisis, a dangerous drop in his hemoglobin levels led to his brain not being sufficiently supplied with oxygen. Timely blood transfusion could have prevented his brain injury.
I think he will settle in very quickly. During communal meals, he already creates a good mood, digging into his food as if he had to stock up for days. He then watches for the moment when the tables are cleared, to pick leftover bones from the neighboring plates and quickly stuff them into his mouth as well.

Here in Malawi, disabled people are the poorest of the poor - and I think that is the case in all 3rd World countries.
Often the mothers are also abandoned by their husbands, which makes earning a livelihood even more of a worry.

When the children arrive in the morning, Diethelm is already always in the startingblocks, because unfortunately one of them is always ill. Even one of the employees is normally always suffering from malaria. Currently Kingless, our nanny, is affected. Her cough is so persistent that Diethelm has sent her to hospital to have a TB test.
Diethelm also made all of our children do an HIV test, and we are happy that all are negative. Only Missis’ result is not 100% sure. When he is a little older, he must renew the test.
We are very grateful that we are – the initial intestinal problems and minor infections aside - healthy and in good spirits.
Honesty, however, will have the last word: Our current living conditions having no power/electricity for the last 4 weeks and going to bed early every evening, we do dream now and again of being in Cologne ...

Our best regards
Vera and Diethelm

Recent images will be posted online once we get back to Germany (late April). Thank you for your patience.

Kunyumba e.V.
Am Beethovenpark 40
D-50935 Köln