Dear readers and friends of Kunyumba,
From Mid-April to May Vera, Diethelm and myself visited Malawi.
Kunyumba is doing well and continues growing. We have now 25 children coming regularly from Monday to Friday and a new member of staff. Michael works greatly in our team and assists Kingless in the hygienic care of our children. It is a cultural standard in Malawi that children of a certain age receive care by people of the same sex. Michael primarily cares for the boys which has been positively noticed by the childrens’ caretakers.
The beautiful garden that was created during Maaike’s visit last year has grown very well thanks to a good rainy season in spring. Every Kunyumbian planted his tree in the back of the garden, which used to be sandy and put a name tag around it.
After a very warm welcome by the children and staff we started working quickly on different tasks concerning Kunyumba. Diethelm checked the medical books of every child. The most important topic was Ulita’s pregnancy that ended end of May with the birth of her healthy daughter Rita. Ulita is the little sister of Joyce and became pregnant at the age of twelve years because of rape. Rita is our youngest Kunyumbian and will stay in Kunyumba while Ulita goes back to primary school.
We also drove to the Beitcure Hospital in Blantyre in order to visit an orthopaedic clinic, where international doctors provide medical care to children free of charge. Our aim was to find a solution for the hip dislocation of Chifundo, that has affected her ability to walk since birth. Currently she is dependent on pain killers in order to walk and go to school.She is one of the best students in Kunyumba and will finish her secondary education next year. Her dislocation however seems to be too complicated to be operated in Malawi. Therefore we are looking for different options to allow an operation abroad. Diethelm has contacted other doctors in Germany and we will keep you updated on that process.
Our travel highlight this year was surely our yearly trip with all children and members of staff. Thanks to the generous assistance of the Safari Beach Lodge, we spent a day on a wonderful beach in Senga Bay including a big barbecue. Everyone had a lot of fun and we enjoyed the calm atmosphere next to this beautiful lake.
Because of the presidential elections that took place in May and were finally won by Peter Mutharika, election posters dominated the appearance of Senga Bay. Trucks carrying gigantic loud speakers drove all day and night and played election songs, the national anthem or speeches of the presidential candidates. Before the actual elections took place it was already clear that president Joyce Banda, who took over the presidency in 2012 following the death of late president Bingu wa Mutharika, would lose the elections.
During her presidency she radically changed the economic policies that were introduced by her predecessor like the artificial fixing of the Malawi Kwacha to the US-Dollar. This fixing was the reason of the fuel shortages and the lack of medicine in Malawi and had to be changed sooner of later as no one was willing to change foreign currency in the official bureaus. The devaluation of 30% in 2012 and subsequently up to 100% in 2014 shocked the average Malawian as their salaries were not necessarily raised and the prices for common goods exploded. As an example the fuel price was raised from 200 Kwacha (1€) in 2008 to 860 Kwacha (1,6€) in May 2014. In Malawi Kwacha this is a rise of over 400% while the rise in Euro is approximately 60%. This led to anger and resignation among many Malawians and she became the scapegoat although the reasons for the economic problems were all laid in the former governments.
Another huge scandal that erupted in Malawi was the cashgate corruption scandal that costed around 100 mio. US-Dollars. Over a period of 2-3 years the ruling party of Joyce Banda and presumably the DPP received donations from companies and assigned those companies with infrastructure contracts e.g. road works, medical supply etc. that were never terminated but fully paid by the government.
Fortunately the elections went peacefully although there is a lot of vote rigging evidence and the president as well as some contestants accepted their defeat. The new president Peter Arthur Mutharika now has to work on several topics including donor support, the cash gate judicial process, the catastrophic educational system as well as food security.
We will keep you updated with our next newsletter in August/ September as Ute is travelling to Malawi in July.
Best regards and zikomo kwambiri!