Written by Evelyn Moseley
As many of you know, we got word from Bayana before we left that it would be nice if we could bring soccer equipment, toys and some tiny dolls for an orphanage- 150 to be exact. My mom, Ariel, had lots of extra fabric around and thought she could sew the dolls we needed. It was a lot of work, with a lot of help of fellow CUMC members and friends and we got them finished the day of departure! Lots of love and community went into their making.
So the dolls made the journey to Malawi and were ready to be distributed, but once we met with Bayana and went over a tentative schedule, I didn’t see an orphanage visit on the schedule. So I asked him where we should bring them, and he said that I should hold onto them, the schedule was subject to change and that God would show us an opportunity.
As you have seen in previous posts, we went to a pediatric ward at the hospital, but gave soap, Vaseline and pads of paper with colored pencils there. We went to an orphanage type place, but there were only 15 children and 14 of them were boys, so we gave out Kendamas (toys) there instead.
We finally decided we could bring the dolls to the hospital when we went back and a separate team would return to pediatrics and hand them out.
So the dolls were in the van when we entered the village of Lundu, a beautiful, colorful village. We immediately bonded with the children there and were welcomed into the homes of the people. The chief organized a traditional dance performance and we spent a lot of
time learning about and witnessing not only the community but the poverty of the village.
One girl that I bonded with especially was about 9 years old. I saw her when she was pumping water at the well. She ran over and curiously joined the smaller children. She was beautiful, sweet, and smart. We played a version of patty cake, we tickled each other and she held my hand or had her arm around my waist the whole time we toured the village. She said things to me in Chichewan that I couldn’t understand but got the feeling that they were sweet and kind things. I gave her a piggy back ride and she kissed my cheek and squeezed me tight. Everyone else in our group was forming similar bonds with the other children, where they warmed up to us completely and we shared nothing but love.
Just as I was thinking, I wish they could remember us somehow, Bayana asked if I had the dolls with me. I did and so we decided to give them to the village children. The boys and girls alike lined up for the dolls and lit up when they saw them.
After the dance performance, we gave the rest of the children dolls until we ran out.
I know this sounds like a lovely story, but like so much in Africa, beauty is accompanied by tragedy. The girl who I fell in love with, Judith, should have been in school. Our guide told us that they go to school if they are not needed in their households, so she clearly was needed to work around the house. That broke my heart. He also told me that girls might get married at 12 years old. The doll represented so much more to me then. I just wanted her to be able to be a child: to play patty cake and dolls and go to school.
The other tragedy was that as soon as we began to give the dolls to the big group, it was chaos. Mothers were holding their babies out to us, children were lying saying that they didn’t get one before, when we knew they had, mothers and grandmothers began yelling and begging that they had other kids at home and they needed the dolls too. It was a picture into their reality. Any opportunity that they had to get something, they had to try to get as much as they could.
In the end though, the children were very happy with their dolls, and hopefully will be reminded of a church that cares about them, as the dolls get passed through families. The sad truth was, however, that they were not food. The villagers are hungry, they don’t have many options for food if the crops don’t grow. They don’t have other income.
Like all of our adventures so far in Malawi, there is beauty and tragedy everywhere. My prayer is that we can all have an image of a village outside of Blantyre, where each child has a hand made doll, and that we do all that we can to help them, and the villages like them.