Newsletter June 2016

Dear Readers,

This time you can read an entry from my diary, which I’ve been using regularly to record all of my experiences in Malawi ...


I’ve been back in Malawi for 3 weeks now and I am so excited about the Kunyumba project...

After six years of regular visits, it always feels like coming home to me, to people who welcome you with an open mind, an open heart and a lot of singing. And as I write these lines, I can hear the sound of the waves from the nearby Lake Malawi, which I can see from the terrace.

It is "winter" in Malawi, a comfortable 25 degrees Celsius; the nights are cool and stormy. In the middle of the night I am woken up by singing from the mosque next door - it's Ramadan and before the sun rises, it is time for the Muslims in this country to have something to eat and then to start their day. I also hear the voices from the fishing village at night, especially after a succesful catch and the chirping of crickets and the buzzing of mosquitoes ...

My day starts a little later, at 7:30 am with breakfast on the terrace overlooking this seemingly infinite blue lake.

Maaike and Fred who are planning a great follow up project for older Kunyumba "children", were here until yesterday and so we spent the day more or less together creating visions, plans and some concrete preparations.

I am taking care of some organizational matters for Kunyumba and interrupt this repeatedly to get in touch with the children. Meanwhile the group has grown to 33 children, all extremely lovable and sooo grateful. They were so happy about the IKEA kids-cookware I brought over for them, they play with it every day and every afternoon everything is being cleaned carefully - this and DUPLO bricks are a big hit here; the youngest (6 months) and the „big one" (Bia is at 24 years of age the oldest one) love to build, to sort by color or extensively cover the blocks with saliva - every day, without getting tired of it.

The community here is unique, with or without disabilities, they can all relate to each other and they all seem happy. Still, I'm very worried about three children in particular: Sainab, who prefers squatting behind the door in the dark and often wets her bed when her mother comes to pick her up in the afternoon; Patrick, who is very susceptible to disease because of his HIV infection and often suffers from high fevers; Mateyo, a very weak twelve year old boy, we recorded last week and brought directly to the hospital, diagnosis: Tuberculosis ...

Late mornings are quiet, with the five children that suffer from severe mental disability and our five "minis". As the holidays won’t start until July, the others arrive from school around noon and then we all eat together. It's an amazingly quiet and intense experience - up to 40 people who clearly enjoy their food. Especially after the weekend, which the children spend at home, I realize how much happiness a secure meal can create.

The local staff do a great job here and the team has been stable for years now. Everyone has found his / her role that makes him /her happy.

Oops, Ibu (14 years) just stormed in to place a wet kiss on my cheek; Sofie (our „guard dog") lies at my feet; I can smell alluring fragrances coming from the kitchen (mashed sweet potatoes mixed with peanut flour); Evance (2.5 years), Imulani (2.5 years) and Rita (2 years) look at me with excitement - I am also looking forward to spend time with them soon and to hear their merry chuckle and laughter - even more beautiful than the sound of the waves ...

Ute Reichl

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