Day 7 – Gerald multi-tasks as a getaway driver

MAY 20, 2008 12:05 AM| no comments

One of the aims today is to find time for a proper swim…..

Three quarters of the crew headed off very early to the Lighthouse Project leaving me to do battle with Avis to change our two inadequate vehicles for one with tyres big enough to cope with these roads (oh, and brakes, a complete exhaust and mileage under 100k miles would be nice).

The Lighthouse provides care and counseling for those infected and affected by HIV/Aids. Malawi is one of the most severely affected countries. About 15% of those aged 15-49 years are infected with the AIDS virus making it the leading cause of death in the most productive age group. Over 1 million adults and children are infected leading to around 80 000 deaths annually.

The Lighthouse integrates existing services and initiatives into one centre. TB is the other major health problem here and this is the first specialist centre in Malawi providing care and palliative support.

Meanwhile, back at the hotel, Avis have come up with the biggest 4×4 in the world. It has AVIS plastered all down both sides in 1m tall red letters. So much for trying to be inconspicuous! The vehicle appears to work. Gerald is now very happy and looking for pot holes!

Filming at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the equivalent to our DFID. Met a very interesting man called Jones from Population Services International (PSI). He had driven 3.5hrs from Blantyre, the other big city, where, incidentally there has not been any water for 4 days.

Next, we ventured down to the craft market to pick up some links. Tourists seem a bit of a novelty in Lilongwe. Particularly those with very big cameras. We make many instant friends. Of particular note is Alex’s Chelsea-supporting mate who rather worryingly for him, has relations in Brixton.

Road to Lilongwe

Hard to escape without spending some of our wodge of Kwacha so we have ordered some wooden carved signs for the office from ‘Mike and his uncle’. They are going to deliver them tomorrow.

It is very hot today…we might yet get that swim….

Sam is getting a bit fed up of wearing her yellow filming shirt….

Sam and Gerald filming

In the afternoon, we visited the Baylor clinic, a very new, very shiny clinic supported by Baylor University, TX and the drug company, Abbot. There was a party going on with Malawian rap stars. This weekend club is for teenagers who know their status. They come together, have fantastic fun and support with the staff and each other.

Baylor Clinic

After Baylor, we had to pop back to the market to pick up some other bits and pieces. En route to the hotel we parked up by a shanty town and filmed the quickest ever link. Gerald is a very good getaway driver…..

By the time we arrived back at the hotel tired and dirty it was sadly, too late for a swim… maybe tomorrow. Tomorrow is the big Candlelight Memorial Day. It is hard to work out exactly what is going to happen but word is that President Mutharika is going to attend. It’s all very hush hush as there was an attempted coup last week. Bit of a problem when you can’t publicise a public event.

Anyway, we have to meet at 7.15am tomorrow to go over to the stadium. So off to bed.

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