During our first trip to Malawi, on the plane from Germany, we got to know Karin from Kumhausen (near Munich). She was on the way to Malawi to see if she could help out at one of the many orphanages and children's homes in the country, perhaps even staying on long-term.
That was three years ago, and since then she's given up her apartment in Germany and is now focusing on her work at a home for children in Ntcheu, Malawi. She has already set up a nursery and planted an impressive vegetable garden. As well as growing fresh food for the children to eat, she also hopes to grow herbs, which she'll use for home remedies to treat the children's illnesses.
We were very excited to visit her and learn from her experience. Therefore, we decided to stop by and see her during our next trip to Africa.
Orphanage Ntcheu, 2016
Malawians rarely go beyond the borders of their own city or home region. Therefore, we take Ernest and Jylos with us on an excursion during the second week of our visit. We want to visit the church orphanage in Ntcheu (supported by To-All-Nations e.V.), which has been built up by German missionaries over the past ten years. We hope to get ideas and inspiration that we could then use for our orphanage in Zomba, and as it turns out, we succeed in doing just that.
At the gates of the small community, we are greeted by Anatol. He leads us on an amazing tour. Unfortunately Karin is not here, but she has carefully arranged everything for our visit. We see the small farm behind the orphanage, where cows and pigs are raised. Cheese is made from the cows' milk and any leftover meat is sold to locals. From the farm, we continue past the bakery, where the familiar aroma of freshly baked German rolls greets our noses. That brings us to the sewing room, where five tables are equipped with small electric sewing machines. An older German woman volunteers there, teaching the young women from the orphanage sewing and tailoring, and they teach her English in return.
The kitchen is outside with a gas stove to save wood. The Nsima simmers in the cooking pots, the fresh meat is chopped and diced by the cooks. Ernest is excited because cooking with gas is new to him. He only knows heating food over a fire, but firewood in Malawi is running short and it's time to think about alternatives. Our tour continues, past the library, the garden, the corn plantation, a small hospital, the carpentry workshop and finally the school buildings. Everything is very clean and everyone friendly. The schoolchildren wear uniforms and the classes are manageable, an important thing to note, since many classrooms in public schools are filled with up to 200 pupils.
It quickly becomes clear that this mission is a little paradise. Money is raised through donations and the carpentry business. Rainwater is collected and there is room to play and catch insects in the tall grass. I see how rich the people here are and I envy them for that: rich in freedom, creativity, healthy work and friends. Thank you Anatol for this wonderful tour! On the way back to Zomba, Ernest—the director of the orphanage there—is restless. His head is buzzing with ideas, inspired by what we've seen in Ntcheu. He immediately wants to plant a garden, clean up the office, and create a library. The next day we see smoke rising from in front of the orphanage. Old papers are being burned as the cleaning woman sweeps and polishes the floor. Shelves are transformed to make space for a library. Kathrin shouts joyfully “exploration successful!”.