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Anna Rago

Local Living By: Anna Rago

July 3, 2018

Today we woke up, had breakfast, and then went to morning devotions with the staff. Then we went to the grocery store. It is a small local grocery store that the community built to support itself. They sell simple things. I bought cookies and gum for 350 kwatcha. Next we went to a grinding mill. This is also a local store in which the funds support the community. The community members harvest the corn, then bring it there and pay to have them pound it. And then it is grinded into flour. After that we visited a nursery school. They sang the songs and we took a great picture with the kids. Sadly, the people who were supposed to make the kids practice didn’t show up today. We bought a little kids puffs for a snack instead because this may be the only thing that they eat today. Next we went to the Pamoza office to learn about Muzi Banking. I have a video explaining it off for anyone who wants to learn more. Basically, it is the local bank which benefits the community. After that, we visited a woman’s home. Miss Trudy happened to be praying for this lady for two years. Her home had four bedrooms, a outdoor kitchen, a chicken coop, crafts, a corn grinder, a wash house and some other essentials. She has three kids. Her oldest is 15 and her youngest is nine. At her house we got to grind some corn by hand. It is very difficult. They gave us potatoes as a gift. Next, we went to a health clinic. There, children were weighed and their height was checked to make sure they are healthy. Otherwise, they go to the hospital and others get food to help them feel better. Then we went to lunch. After lunch we visited two Muzi Banks. At the first, we sang, and they gave us bread and soda as a thank you gift for coming. The second also had a Bible study and put a performance on in addition to banking. The performance was about a community who believed in Muzi Banking, and a community who didn’t. They banter and it was funny to watch. After that, we headed to the tailor in Euthini to have skirts made. Euthini reminds me of a fantasy place. The teller worked out of a house. Everything was very old school. Then, we came home and had  spaghetti. Tomorrow we get to walk to school with some local high school girls! So excited!

Best Day Yet By: Anna Rago

July 2, 2018

Today, I woke up early and went to Mesesa to help with the children’s breakfast program. I helped to cook the pouriage that they served by getting water from the borehole and stirring it into the water. Then we went into each classroom and met everyone. We met the Chiefs of the village. Eventually we got to watch the lady serve the pouriage after we went and ate our own. We first served at standard one (first grade). They were so cute and loved having their picture taken. They all ate their pouriage of cups, some used spoons and others use their fingers.  One spilled porridge on her dress and had to wash off. Then a little boy had pouriage spilled on him. The poor kids, they were okay though. We went again from class to class. I interacted a lot with the kids. I made them laugh and asked them questions. I also talked to the teachers. They teach the kids who sit on the dirt floor with one blackboard and little to no school supplies while running to another classroom to teach it at the same time. They are in need of writing utensils, paper, shelves, or four, books, desks, etc. We visited the teachers houses on campus and saw that they have no beds. Why can’t we send them beds in a box? They are not expensive. The school is a primary school. It is grades 1 to 6. They have five teachers. There are a lot of projects that I want to begin when I get home. Grade 5 had kids ages 8 to 16 and grade 6 had kids who were 18. It’s crazy because if you don’t pass your exam you must stay in your same grade for another year. Most kids keep going until they get tired of repeating the same grade over and over again. They will most likely then go get married and start a family. Then we attended a Bible study. All the kids sat under a tree and learned about God. They sang hallelujah songs and some kids had a solo.We clapped with them and had a lot of fun. We even got to play soccer with the kids before then. When we left we went to the Zowe school and caught the end of their Bible study. We sang some songs with them and then walked home to get lunch. We then went to the woman’s literacy group. We visited two groups. One had so many women. They were introduced and some people had speeches. I used a pit latrine for the first time at the second group. It was not bad at all. The second group was small, but they had their own bank. They learned to read and learned financial skills. They can buy shares and take out loans. The book they use teaches them skills that they need to know in Malawi, like how to fight a snake. We then went home. I took a walk with Temwa and played ball with some local children. I took pictures with them and taught them the  starlight, starbright song. I had them repeat after me, but because of the language barrier, that was hard. Me and Bethany demonstrated what repeating was to get them to understand and they finally did. Then we ate dinner, A bat flew into the hall. I hid under the table. Then I went outside to look at the stars. You can see 1 trillion stars out there, and the Milky Way, and a red planet. So beautiful! It’s nothing like the United States.  I felt very humble today. I can’t completely describe it, but I felt in my heart.

Nowhere But Up by Anna Rago

On top of a mountain near Zowe

July 5, 2018

Today was rainy and cloudy and cold. It is the dry season in Malawi so it almost never rains. It is very rare. After we ate breakfast, we went to staff fellowship where Sherard preached about the parable of the sower. Then we went to a health clinic in Zowe. Today, they were testing for HIV/AIDS and doing some simple check-ups. They were sadly all out of malaria test kits which meant that all the people who walked miles for testing were unable to be tested. They gave out medicine for those who needed it. The supplies were very limited there. Help is definitely needed. For a patient to be seen, it is K400 for adults and K200 for children under 5. The only other form of payment is corn. One of their exam rooms is completely filled with corn, so they were unable to do exams in there. We helped by organizing corn. We bought 8 giant sacks to fill up with corn. We found so much rotten corn and had to stop working. After the corn fiasco, we walked to the school farm. There, we watched the students harvest maize, helped them put in into baskets, and carried it to the back of a classroom. The basket was extremely heavy and we had to carry it pretty far. They will either sell it, or use it for the breakfast program. Next, we went to visit a local woman named Witness. On the way there, we made jump ropes out of grass and played with some school children. She had a beautiful home, but she was in poor condition. She is 75, has back problems, and can barely walk. She had a pretty bad harvest which means that her food will only last half the year. We are praying for her. She sleeps on a cot and her husband sleeps on the floor. Her son left for South Africa and hasn’t been back in a few years. It is as if he forgot all about his home, wife, and kids. Witness had some chickens, ducks, and pigs. Her pigs looked like baby piglets. She had an indoor kitchen which is rare for people in Malawi. Baby Ester was there today. I held her and she fell asleep right in my arms. We walked home and then I had the opportunity to climb a mountain. It was beautiful. Very rocky and filled with many unique trees. During their rainy season, monkeys will swing from tree to tree. We climbed straight up for the most part. You are supposed to walk around it like in a spiral so walking straight made it extremely difficult. When we got to the top, I was speechless. It was unbelievable. Words can’t even begin to describe it. I sat right near the edge, close my eyes, and sat under the sun. When I opened them, it was like I was one with the world. We took beautiful pictures. Then, we walked home and I helped cook dinner. America has a huge rep in Africa. Everyone wants to visit. I was talking to the staff at our house and we were comparing our cultures. This whole trip has been so much learning. I am filled with ideas and excitement!

Sunday Worship by Anna Rago

July 1st, 2018

Today was a day of worship. We woke up, ate breakfast then drove to Euthini to worship. When we got there, they told us they weren’t having a service today. So we drove into town to get our car fixed. When we went to go pick it up, we thought that they stole it because it was no longer where it was supposed to be. We met some people along the way and then drove to another place to worship.

When we got there, so many people were singing. Then the pastor took us to a room to meet us all since we were visiting hours. Next, we all went outside for Mass. This was a Presbyterian mass which was new for me. It was nice to hear the word of God from a different perspective. Today, there were a few baptisms, one of which was Esther’s the baby from yesterday. Then, a person was instituted into some sort of prayer circle. There was plenty of singing and dancing. We learn songs in both Tumbuka and English. During the mass, Sherard preached and his sermon was translated so that everyone could understand. We  were introduced to all and said hi to the crowd “Malimosa”! The mass was completely outside and the views were breathtaking!

After mass, one of the pastors gave me a soda and some cookies. Then we headed home.

We were supposed to meet with the Chiefs, but they never showed up. So instead, I carry water on my head and learned how to wash dishes. Then we went to a soccer game. It was crazy. As we walked up, everyone stared at us because we were visiting. They were also kind. There was a drunk man walking around singing. He was funny.

I got to meet a lot of kids today. The ones in town were shy but we took a wonderful picture with them. At the soccer game, the kids stood so close to us. We tried to talk to them and they tried to talk to us. The soccer players here are very good. We sung the kids there a song. They laughed when we walked home.

We help one of the students Paso, make dinner. I cut an onion and learn more about the Malawian life and her life. She is studying Humanities, but wants to go back to school for business or accounting. She asked about the US. And I told her that I would rather live here. We talked about a lot, but one thing that she said one thing that’s stood out to me was how in Malawi teenagers usually don’t drive-it is either too expensive or they just don’t need to. She said that most people don’t drive until they are 40.

After I ate dinner, I went to bed. Tomorrow, we get to visit the school and meet more kids!

Me washing dishes Malawian style.

I got to meet in the community.

Traveling from Lilongwe to Zowe by Anna Rago

June 30, 2018

Today was a long day of travel. I woke up, packed and went to breakfast. We packed the car and starter started our 5-hour drive to Zowe, Malawi. The car was thin and we were sitting like sardines. I fell asleep about a hundred times during the bumpy ride.

Ride to Zowe

We made many stops along the way. Our first stop was at the mall. I went to the flea market and science fair that was happening there today. The science fair was very neat because I got to meet kids who were doing very similar science fair project as I did in grade school. My favorite part was the elephant toothpaste. Then we travel to a gas station which had a beautiful view of a mountain. I got Lay’s potato chips inside. There was one flavor that look like salt and vinegar, but when you look closer they were balsamic and onion. Next, we stopped at a veggie stand. It is crazy with so many people screaming at you trying to get you to buy their food. After that we continue through to the country.

We eventually reached a police stop (one of many) where Zambia was on our right and Malawi was on our left, so they had to check our passports. As we continue driving, the road ended and Joe drove on the bumpy dirt. We actually saw baboons. It was crazy! They were running all over the place. Adorable!

Finally we reached Zowe and the Pamoza Headquarters. We went straight to dinner and met everyone. They have been preparing dinner for us for hours. The food was delicious. I got to hold a little four month old baby name Esther. She was a happy baby. After dinner, they prepare one room for us and then we all play Taboo. After that I went to bed. Goodnight, Malawi!

The supplies have arrived by Anna Rago

Friday June 29th

Today I woke up at 7 for breakfast. We ate at home and enjoy oatmeal, toast and tea. After breakfast, we went to Hope Ministry. They have emergency care for children. We donated suitcases filled with crayons. It was really cool because all of the school supplies we brought was because of my work at SAS and all the collections we had. They even brought some of the leftover things from the 5K that I hosted. It is neat to have physically seen the things I collect be in Malawi. Then we exchanged money. 740 kwacha equals 1 US dollars. I only exchange $100 so I got 7400 kwacha. Then we went to the mall and Shop Right. The mall was beautiful! It’s only 2 years old and you can buy anything. After, we went to a store and I got a beach bag. Everything in Malawi is cheap. I got lunch for 4 kwacha which consists of a roll, pasta, a banana and salad. My bag was only 11 kwacha. The cool thing about the bag is that the workers are all handicapped. This is their work which we are supporting.

After that we went to the market. It was crazy! We first went to go look at sewing machines where boy told me he loved me twice!! In the actual Market, we went to buy fabric. Each piece was 2000 kwacha. When we got there, I took a picture and a whole section of workers screamed at me! I didn’t buy from them. There was one nice lady who danced to make me feel better. I bought really cool fabric. Someone had a dress made. I’m going to have shirts made. One of the team members said she will make me one. After that we came home, ate dinner then went to bed.

Supplies from St Anastasia delivered to the Mission.

Sing, Sing, Sing By: Anna Rago

July 4, 2018

Happy fourth! Malawians don’t celebrate their independence day until July 6. This morning, we woke up at 5 o’clock so that we could walk with two high school girls to the secondary school. The walk is 3 miles. It took us an hour and a half to get there in another hour and a half to get back. We got to visit the school while we were there. We met the teachers and some students. Some of the students had aspirations for after high school. Others will go and get married. The students wanted to be doctors, nurses, and engineers. They knew what it would take. We visited the Physics exam that was today. They actually use a scale and flasks in the exam. The science program  seemed pretty good there. They had a biology, physics, and chemistry. It seems like that they take all three every single year. Pamoza supports 30 students there with their school funds at this school. When we got home, after another long walk, we went to family ministry. It was nice to see families have the opportunity to come together to learn about the gospel. Then we came home and washed your laundry by hand.  So much harder than it looks! Next, we took a break and ate lunch. We got some delicious french fries today. They were homemade. We also got some sugar cane. You had to peel off the bark-like skin to get to the sugar. Next we traveled to a Bible study in a small village. We sang songs. I always sing along in Tumbuka. It’s funny, I try to say exactly what the leaders are saying while they are saying it. The people loved us there. They talk to us and prayed with us and told us more about God. One of the woman we visited yesterday has a husband who was there. I only know him as Jesse‘s husband. But anyway, he was very kind to us and had a big smile on his face. We are always taking pictures of them, but this time they were taking pictures of us. We took pictures with the woman but then, the men felt left out so one called me over to sit next to him and then we took a picture. The only way I can describe it is all smiles all around. They presented me peanuts as a gift. When we got home, we played with some kids who showed up. We played pass the ball, hit the ball, and hot potato. So much laughter!! The lady who gave us peanuts came to get her pot. This is custom after giving someone a gift. After that we visited a woman and her family in a little village. She had a chicken and some little baby chicks which were so adorable. The woman was afraid to talk because her husband was around. She had five kids, two were sick. One had ringworm, and the other had an ear problem. We are praying for them. On our way there, passed the soccer field. There were silly boys there and they wanted us to come over. They were trying to communicate something to us. They were mining some soccer skills and I have no clue what they wanted. Today was a good day. I learned a lot. One thing that really made me laugh was my conversation with to seventh grade girls to stop by. They wanted to learn more English, so they were talking to us. We were all laughing the whole entire time. Someone got it on video. The language barrier is not a problem for me. I will still talk to everyone. The sunset here is the best you ever see. Pictures just don’t do it justice. I am having such a great time and I am having so many ideas of how I can help more. I am filled with joy to know that I can actually do something more. If I didn’t come, my observations wouldn’t have been. My future is brighter because of this trip. It helped me create more opportunities to serve. I would stay here longer if I could! My hope when I return this to show others what I learned so that I can bring others to Malawi to do the work of God. I feel that I am truly touching the hearts of others!

Flying to Malawi by Anna Rago

June 26-27
When I woke up at 5 AM this wonderful Wednesday morning, all I could think about was how today was the day that would bring new perspectives into my life. So many people have told me that this trip to
Malawi would change my life, but I believe that if it does change it, it will
only enhance it. I have this amazing opportunity which I am entering entirely with an open mind and open heart. I will let change come into my
life as the Lord sees it is needed. He has led me to Malawi for reasons that
He will only ever know. All that I know is that I am flying to Malawi to do
some more good in this world and impact as many lives as I can. I am writing this with 4 more hours left to fly. I am filled with excitements so much so that I can’t sleep anymore. Hopefully I will be able to start my
day with energy.

Anna’s ready for change.

On Top of the World – by Anna Rago

June 22, 2018

As I recently went into the city, I was reminded that there is so much more to see, so many more people to help, and so much more good that can be done. I am filled with joy as I am preparing for my trip to Malawi, for I will get to see the world, help a lot of people, and do good. Looking at this picture, it reminds me that there are things in this world way bigger than me. I am happy to be a part of a team and together, I hope that we are able to conquer some of the bigger issues in this world. I feel like I’m on top of the world. I can’t wait to hop on that plane and soar all the way to Malawi. 

Anna Rago, 2018 Mission Team Member