Safe to say it was the perfect ending to a fantastic week building houses in Thanguli village. Our house dedication and celebration with the community was as festive as any. Filled with dancing, singing and heartfelt words of endearment, it makes it all that much harder to leave. Sharing our intangible feelings is as important as sharing in the work of the tangible house building. We know we have made a difference in one short week.
Our host community shared many aspects of their lives with us with great hospitality. We danced with them, joked with them, ate their food, held their hands and shared their sorrow and joy. We observed a way of life where people are unencumbered by the trappings of the familiar lives we left back home. Among the villagers there seems to be no emphasis on what clothes you wear, the variety of food you eat, or how your career is advancing. No one checks their Facebook status, complains about how small their closet is, redecorates their bedroom or runs their children to gymnastics, soccer practice, piano and ice skating lessons on Saturday. Through Western eyes it is utterly freeing to savor the simplicity of their life.
Yet we miss our beds, our favorite foods and products, our routine and all of you…our loved ones. And life in the village ought not to be overly romanticized; it is difficult. People go without enough to eat, especially during “the hunger months” of January, February and March when it’s been raining since last November. Most people don’t have more than one set of clothes and many have no shoes. Their shelter is inadequate and they are more likely to get sick. This is, after all, why we came. To help alleviate their suffering.
We ended our time together by sharing one last meal of traditional Malawian food, nsima, rice, goat meat and goat stew, chicken stew, pumpkin greens, sweet potatoes with ground nut flour and cabbage. A feast.
We have been changed.
And we hope you will be tolerant of our new selves.