Volunteers’ Stories: Lisbeth

Lisbeth’s Story

“I had the funniest and most rewarding time, teaching every child in RIPPLE Africa’s eight pre-schools how to wash hands with soap.”

A Day at Mwaya Beach

The day starts early, as every day does, including week-ends! At 05.15, at the first break of dawn, the four night watchmen start discussing very loud! At 6 o’clock, it finally gets quiet when three of the night watchmen goes home. Instead the monkeys starts their day by playing on the roofs, making the whole chalet shake. Now you might as well get up. I did bring an alarm clock, but never had to use it.

The toilet /bathroom facilities are beautiful. Inviting showers with hot water and water closet as we know them.

I will never eat kidney beans again! The four cooks are marvellous. They can make a wide variety of very tasty dishes out of beans. And a glass or two of red wine makes every meal a feast.

I go to work on a mountain bike with 21 gears where only one gear works. The roads can be nice tarmac, footpaths or through cassava fields. Yes, I have had falls, but never serious. A special challenge is during heavy rain as it comes during the rainy season. Work can be from 1km or up to 14 km from Mwaya Beach.

It is a fantastic feeling to take a dip in the lake when you arrive home all sweaty after work.

Before dinner, we have a drink, some roasted peanuts and play cards. After dinner, we play some more or, if we have had plenty of sun , watch a movie on the volunteer computer.

At 8 o’clock we retire and at 9 o’clock we are all a sleep with the rolling sound from the lake as a lullaby.

Hand Washing

I had the funniest and most rewarding time, teaching every child in RIPPLE Africa’s eight pre-schools how to wash hands with soap. Jimmy the pre-school Coordinator was my guide and interpreter.

To “ break the ice”, I took the children on a safari where we had to jump over streams, swim across rivers full of crocodiles, balance on a narrow bridge, run out of the rain, etc. After a few minutes, the staff could no longer resist and had to join in the safari. Much laughter among the children and the staff.

The children then had a one minute ”speech” on how bacterias can cause stomach pain and diarrhoea. Jimmy was a very passionate interpreter.

Two buckets of water was our ”running water”. I demonstrated what to do, and the children followed me with earnest faces. Interesting to watch how the white soap lather very fast became very brown!

Big hugs for me, from all the children, when we had to hurry to get to the next pre-school.

I would like very much, and it would possibly improve health, if this could be done every day before tea break. But the distance to get water and the money for soap will probably make this very difficult.

On Safari with Eddie

Eddie is RIPPLE Africa’s small truck. It is driven by Lawrence the driver, and is used for transportation of building materials for RIPPLE’s many projects.

Today Eddie has to pick up payrolls and building materials in Mzuzu, two hours drive from Mwaya Beach. Allie and I got a lift with Eddie. We take off at 7 am. Allie and I make our self comfortable with pillows and blankets in the back of Eddie.

I get totally high on sitting in the early morning sun and watch Africa rush past, backwards.

Close to Nkhata Bay, we drive through miles and miles of rubber plantation. At first you see fully grown trees bleeding rubber in little black cups. After that, we drive in between rubber trees in different sizes, from little twigs to huge fully grown trees. From Nkhata Bay, the road goes upwards! Mzuzu is situated on a high altitude(cool). We get the most fantastic views of dark mountains and green valleys.

In Mzuzu, we eat meat and cheese (a rare commodity at Mwaya Beach ). We buy five litres of wine and three crates of beer. Morton and Lawrence have also been shopping. When we meet up at 5 pm, there is hardly any room for us in the back. In the end, we sit rather uncomfortably underneath iron sheets and reinforcement steel. Lawrence drives fast but safe, and we return home just after dark.

Lisbeth (Volunteer Nurse, January – April 2012)

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