By Rebecca Clement
On the 1st of the month we climbed Mount. Kasungu. I almost didn’t make it to the top. I was under the impression that half of the group was going to turn around two-thirds of the way up when we would stop on a plateau for lunch. Half way up the mountain I decided I would not be able to continue and declared I would be making my way down with the others. My initial plan was to make it to the top but I was “lied to” about the difficulty of the climb by one of the men in the village. This man turned out to be one of our guides up the mountain. What he had told us was that the climb was not steep at all. It turned out that it was extremely steep and extremely rigorous since it was not a simple incline but rough terrain all the way up. We had to pick our way up like a bunch of mountain goats. The whole way up, the other stragglers and myself would joke about never listening to our guide again, so even when he would say he couldn’t sing we would laugh and claim that he probably has the voice of an angel. In the end, I made it to the top but only because I was coerced by Dr. Stonebanks. I’m glad I made it however and for the support I received. The climb down was hard too but not as hard as the way up. At least that time I was able to breath. The muscles in my legs took a beating but they could handle it.
As we waited at the bottom of the mountain for the others to complete their climb down, we were joined by children from a nearby village. At first they were really shy and I think we were too tired to engage them so they just watched us from a distance. Then their group went from five children to about twenty and it was hard to let them just stand there so we started speaking with them. We exchanged a few words in Chichewa (pretty much the only ones we knew- Muli Bwanji: How are you, Ndili Bwino kya inu: I’m well and you, Dzina Lako Dani: What is your name, and Dzina Langa Dine: My name is) and it quickly became clear that they did not speak English. We then started playing non-verbal games with them. It was my first interaction with children outside of the Makupo village and through it, it became obvious to me how the poverty in Malawi has such a huge effect on the people, especially the children.