Day 7 – Thursday
Rick had originally canceled this morning’s meeting with Martin and the Meteorological department and did not think he would be able to make the Rotary Lunch that was set for 12 noon but he pulled it out of the hat and arrived just before the Rotary meeting started.
We got to present our power point to the club and show them what we had been up to at the Holy Cross Parish in Nkhamenya and we were very well received – in fact one of the members and childhood friend of Martins actually grew up in one of the villages nearby – he is a Doctor now. There were a lot of guests at this meeting nearly outnumbering members and even included a visitor from Ireland who was there on a Fair Trade Project with KPMG. Rick was able to pay compliment to Martin who had come as a guest and we both paid tribute to the welcome we had received from everyone up and down Malawi. We received good comments during the meeting and following its conclusion were able to speak with the Project coordinator and the President of the club and exchange email contacts.
One of the Rotarians commented on how great it was to see a Malawian (Martin) be complimented on doing a good job from within the country rather than someone from outside having to do it for them – made a great point.
Rick then left to go for his meeting with the Meteorological Department with Martin and I stayed to have a chat with the Sergeant at Arms who ran a paint business, originally from Holland but had lived in North Carolina for a bit returning to Malawi for most of the last 45 years
It was a great discussion on the politics of the country, the population, education, demographics and what the potentials for the country were. There are a lot of common themes in Malawi with other countries it is just so poor that it seems to create a vicious circle that can keep going around in circles – did you know that 60% of the population of Malawi was under the age of 16? We met a few others that had some influence – the CEO of one of the local banks, the owner of one of the country’s largest food producing companies and the CEO of the BP operation in Blantyre – (kept his number handy for the gas problem)
I took a walk later in the afternoon and visited the flea market where you could buy clothing, shoes, phones, chargers, bags and food all laid out in make shift stalls, there were throngs of people and it took me a little bit to get comfortable and move through the crowd – would have made a great Market House with all the activity but I guess it just wouldn’t be the same as our famous Market House in Annapolis!!!!!
I could see the parking lot where all of the small little Toyota Hi Ace Vans assembled getting ready to bring the people back to their respective villages after working in the town for the day. There were about 50 of them all ready to go.
We still had not heard from Avis and were unsure of what we were going to do the next morning.
I met back up with Rick at the hotel at about 4.30pm and we waited for Martin and his family to come and meet with us as he wanted to introduce them to us. He arrived shortly before 5 with his wife, two sons and daughter who were all in college or finishing school. We had a good conversation and he presented us both with a gift each of a wooden sculpture, there was a lion for Rick and an elephant for me, they were great.
We shared a beer together and then they departed, in the meantime the Avis guy returned with the car and a full tank – we were ready to go the next day. One thing for sure I was glad we went with Avis and not some of the other cheaper choices that we could have made.
We had some dinner and then headed to bed early for a 6am start