Newsletter May 2012

18th of April 2012
The only paved road that leads through Senga Bay to Lilongwe is deserted. This is to the advantage of the many cyclists, who are usually honked to the side by the passing cars: petrol is currently nowhere to be found. Good to know that there is a black market in case of disaster, where the liter is on offer for an equivalent of 4 to 5 euros.
So we wait patiently, a virtue one needs to develop in Malawi, and enjoy the pulsating life in Kunyumba, until the “jungle drums” proclaim the opening of one or the other petrol stations in Salima.
Last week, Peter drove into town with great hopes of getting a few liters. The first time, he queued in vain for 8 hours and the second time, having spent the night in the car, he was given 10 liters, which was not enough for us to get to Lilongwe and back, in order run our errands.

24th of April 2012
Yesterday was President Bingwu wa Mutharika’s funeral. He died of a heart attack. They tried to fly his corpse abroad in an attempt to hide the news of his death for a couple of days, to avoid the coming of a woman to power for the next 2 years. However, it seems that too many people refused to play along (including the pilot) for the conspiracy to succeed.
Now the countrymen have put their hopes in the vice-president Joyce Banda. Bingu wa Mutharika had become increasingly unpopular, having driven the country into bankruptcy, developed bad relations with the neighboring countries and having put a lot of money into his own pocket. A few days after his death, for example, South Africa and Zambia have already promised their support and…sent a large amount of petrol on its way.

27th of April 2012
Today, a young woman introduced herself to us, asking us to look after her disabled child. 7 year old Zaina is a beautiful young girl and - due to meningitis- heavily mentally disabled. Apart from a few shrill shrieks, she is unable to take part in any activity. She just sits there, staring deeply at her finger and seems to live in her very own world.

We’ve seen a lot of poverty in Malawi, but I couldn’t get this mother out of my head, having seen her living conditions at close hand. As well as Zaina, this beautiful young woman has 7 month old twins, weighing 10 kg each! One of them has both legs in plaster, probably because of a slight deformity of the femoral head after birth. She carries him on her back, the other one on her chest. She arrives smiling happily, day in, day out, mornings and evenings - a 40 minute walk each way. Kunyumba has rekindled her hope in what was a hopeless situation. Maybe she will soon be able to run a small business with a little help to start off with. The father was killed in a car accident, so she lives alone with her three children - in inhumane conditions - in a pitch-black, tiny hut with no windows. By candlelight, I saw a few rags in a corner but nothing else.

5th of May 2012
Tomorrow we’re flying home again. We’ve had a really lovely time here. Living with the staff and children was so harmonious, almost familiar, that leaving was for the first time hard for us. The day before yesterday, we had a staff meeting, true to German tradition, with coffee and cake. Peter opened it with an English Christmas song (in May!), which Sarah had taught him during her last visit.
Having worked through the agenda, everyone, without exception, wished to express their gratitude. Kunyumba has not only fundamentally changed the lives of our now 19 children for the better. In comparison to 90% of Malawians, the employees have hit the jackpot with their contract of employment, the relevant health insurance for their families and the excellent working conditions.

Vera Kleinstoll

(translated by Natalie Glanville-Wallis)

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