We started our Sunday by getting up early to attend mass (except for CJ…he slept in) down the street from the Zitha house which has become like our second home. The acoustics were beautiful, as were many of the dresses in attendance on the women’s side where we sat. The priest was kind enough to give part of the homily in english for our benefit. The rest of the morning was spent leisurely strolling about our village, making friends, and getting a little shopping done.
After lunch, we walked about 3 miles through the forest to the village of Kamangira, where Dr. Nesbit’s longtime friend Matthews lives with his large, gracious, and extremely photogenic extended family. The weather for walking was perfect…it was warm and drizzling with enough cloud cover and shade to protect the azungus from the hot Malawian sun. We were greeted by many excited children and given directions to Matthews’ house. He was all smiles when we got there and after inviting us inside, introduced us to his father, mother, and sister. Dr. Nesbit had brought photos with her that she had taken from last year, everyone crowded around to enjoy them. Slowly, more and more relatives trickled in, and pretty soon the little wooden coffee table in Matthews’ living room was covered in photos and surrounded by children, sisters, aunts, and cousins all laughing and chattering together. After awhile, we went outside into better lighting so that CJ, our fabulous professional photographer of the day, could take this year’s family photos, which Dr. Nesbit will bring with her next year when she comes to visit. At this point, word had spread, and we were joined by many neighbors as well as extended family. What followed was complete and utter chaos and one of the most memorable and enjoyable experiences we have had so far.
After the first round of family photos, Matthews showed us to the home of one of the family’s matriarchs. Her name…Ground Nut Auntie. We never did learn her birth name, but we did find why everyone referred to her as such. Once we arrived to her house, she warmly greeted and welcomed us into her traditional home. Inside, we found chickens and much to Abby’s pleasurable surprise, two baby goats. Matthews’ cousin quickly scooped up the baby goats and placed them in our arms. We were soon in goat heaven as the adorable animals finally hushed and allowed us to hold them like babies! While we were visiting, a gentle rain blew through the village. Prior to our departure for St. Gabriel’s, Ground Nut Auntie scurried outside only to return with an enormous bowl of ground nuts (what we azungus call peanuts) and placed them in front of Dr. Nesbit as a parting gift. We exchanged our thanks and were on our way back home. On our walk back, we soon found that we had a following of children trailing behind us. We began playing a game with the kids by pretending we didn’t see them only to quickly turn around and scaring them. The kids would freeze and then erupt with laughter! After about a mile down the road, the children returned to the beautiful village of Kamangira.
Today was filled with patient care in the hospital. It is wonderful living in the Zitha house with so many physicians as we can communicate with them regarding patient referral to PT! We visited many patients with various pathologies in hospital and even one patient in the village. We are tremendously grateful for how welcoming these patients are to allow us to work with them here at St. Gabriel’s. We look forward to seeing them all progress and recover!