Early in May, we Shulters, (aka Steps4Malawi), sat together eating dinner after a long day, talking about the next few months of work that needed to get done. Five minutes after that conversation, Dan checked his email to find the announcement of our visitor, John Mullowney.
John had heard about us because of the LocalsGuide and donated a chainsaw. It will be arriving in our crate from Soles4Souls, but the connection didn’t stop there. We’d run into John on the street during some errands, talked many times about coming to Malawi. And then, out of the blue, we had a visitor.
First morning back in Mtikhe Village the usual line up began. John reminded us how very much our presence here means something to the widows, single mothers, orphans, and those needing to get to a hospital. With how many people that show up each morning, we have just grown accustomed to it. Because he was here though, John sponsored two orphans for school by having school uniforms made for them through Grace the seamstress. School uniforms and fees just aren’t in our usual budget, but seeing those two looking sharp and smiling that they got to go to school like the other kids was worth it just to see it.
The bridge Dan built last December was damaged after the disaster when a too big UNICEF truck drove over it to take a survey up at the school and church that were serving as emergency shelters. John, Dan, and about twenty men cut down and carried a large blue gum tree to add to the bridge to support the broken and replacement planks. Over the course of a few days the bridge was repaired and sturdy enough for a hundred kids to stand on on their way to get their breakfast and education each morning.
The school itself also got a remodel, as the class is getting bigger. The guys knocked out a back wall and expanded the one room schoolhouse to fit all the 3-5yr olds learning their letters as well as some English. But wait! There’s more! John’s presence helped us, as we got Chief Mtikhe on our side to fix the growing crevasse that was the road in front of our rental and base of operations. The road was in bad shape due to water damage and was causing problems for trucks and minibuses… Three villages brought rocks, sand, and workers to help dig a 145 meter long irrigation ditch. The guys shoveled sand and moved the rocks, and our friendly builder, Amos, made a stone and cement wall with basin where the water was worst. We used two shovels to load three yard loads. One load of hand crushed gravel and two of sand.
The large projects over, there of course are many other ways we are always working. A blind man in his early twenties came to ask for assistance. Patrick Sompho had received a gift of bricks for a new house after his had been destroyed in the disaster. He’d come to us asking for a door, window frames, and roofing. John got right on this and reached out to some friends in the US, bringing a surprisingly immediate response for the money to cover building the whole house from an anonymous donor. It is one thing to tell people about daily life here, the sorts of things we see and can’t always do something for lack of money, and then to see someone like John Mullowney and his big heart reaching out to others who have such big hearts as well and the means to do something. It all goes back to LocalsGuide putting Steps4Malawi in the paper, telling people who actually care what’s really going on and the need over here. Community does work. Thank you to all.
We continue to see 4 to 20 people a day. People needing health assistance, first aid, food, etc… Money is going fast. We are tightening up what and whom we can help based upon what our resources are. It is hard to say no.