Monday, April 11, 2011

So mad!!

Okay,  I am officially pissed off.  At me and at many people around me.  I just received news today that a really good friend of mine in Malawi has deteriated quickly in his illness and things aren't looking good.  This man has a wife and a young family and has worked so hard to just provide them with a good roof over their heads and food to eat. He has now had to return to the village because he just can't work in the city more.   Now he will no longer have any income, as well as being really sick.  I don't understand this.  How could we in good conscience go about our daily lives when there are families losing Dads and Moms or both.  Parents are grieving the loss of their babies, dead in their arms because they starved or had Aids.  How do we not care???  Me included!  The great Malawi visionary who thinks she's done so much.  I haven't done nearly enough!!  Even tonight I was bitching about the fact that we were 3 dollars short to register one of our boys in soccer.  Bitching about it,  meantime my other dear friend in Malalawi is having to compose me a message telling me the news.  Really, I can get frazzled over a mere $3.00?  Things in my life don't line up as they should, and I can probably say they don't really do in yours either.  Now seriously,  I'm not trying to lay a guilt trip on you or guilt you into giving money to Hope for Malawi.  I don't care where the money goes,  if you have extra give it away!  Yes, it is that simple.  Saving for that rainy day that never comes?  Give the money to needy people who sometime only have a few days left unless they are nourished or started on Aids Med.  And if that rainy day does come,  well sit around a board game and enjoy an evening with your family.  I sincerely apologize if I come across harsh.  I'm just so angry at myself.  I have been so unkind to other humans on the other side of the world.  Why?  Because me and my family come first.  Now yes,  we have sacrificied alot to bring money and needed supplies into the country.  But is it enough?  If I search the very corners of my heart I know it's not enough.  Everytime I buy the unneeded pair of pants for my son, it is not enough.  Everytime I buy extra treats or desserts in my house, it is not enough.  Everytime I download that book or music just because I think I MAY like it, It is not enough.  Everytime I cook way too much food and coldly throw away the left overs, it is not enough.
Friends hear me when I say this,  IT IS NOT ENOUGH!!  We are not doing enough!!  My friends are dying in Malawi!    Again,  I want to explain,  we're placed on this side of the earth for a reason, to prosper.  In this wealth, it is perfectly normal and good to enjoy the riches you have worked so hard for, we shouldn't all live in grass houses sending all our money to some 3rd world country.  If everybody in North America, saved up the value of one thing that day that they didn't really need, and donated it to a good cause, then, that is charity.  Charity is a heart attitude not merely just  a physical motion.   I vow, here today and now that I will continue to put un-needed purchases aside and start saving up again in our Malawi account.  You can't deprive yourself of needed family vacations, a roof over your head or even clothes.   It's so little what we have to really give in order to actually make a difference.   But that's my rant for now.

Please accept my apology again for the rant.  I do that sometimes when I'm in a foul mood :)

Yours Truly,


Thursday, March 3, 2011

At long last

Well, it's been a long time since I've blogged.  Our last trip to Malawi in August 2010 was successful but very different from our other two trips.  We went with a smaller team this time.  Just Jaako, myself, my 10 year old daughter Janika and our friend Hannah.  We spent the majority of our time travelling project to project seeing how our money from previous trips was spent and which projects would receive more.  This is a process we find the most difficult.  It's always heartbreaking to have to say no, or give less than they have asked for.  But when you are going with a certain amount, we need to know that the money we bring is used in the best way possible.

It was wonderful seeing Malawi through my daughter's eyes.  She saw the things I first fell in love with, but through the busyness I had lost sight of us.  Like the smell of the tree's and flowers, the beauty of the natural surroundings and just the over all feeling of the country.  It's sooo beautiful but with so much poverty.  It's almost overwhelming at times.

We suffered the most illnesses on this trip.  Fortunately, Janika and Hannah just suffered from your regular stomache troubles and tiredness from our hectic travels.  Jaako and I did not fare as well.  Jaako had braces put on prior to our trip and when a bracket fell off in Malawi, a speedy search for orthodontests and dentists proved a much harder task than we had thought.  We finally found an orthodontest who fixed the bracket but in the process the wire moved and it began to dig into his gum until it permanently got stuck in his gums.  We were by then hours from the capitol city and I somehow managed to pry it out and we stuck cotton on the end of it to prevent it from poking back in.  His gum became enflamed and I knew we had to head back to Lilongwe.  This was hard to do because I was in bed ridden with malaria.  I was so sick that I could barely lift a cup to my mouth to take my meds.  But I finally got all 13 pills (kids dose) down and within 2 days I was able to make the long journey back to Lilongwe to get Jaako's wire fixed.  In Lilongwe, we found a dentist that had studied in BC and we were so happy to know we were in good hands.  He gave Jaako an antibiotic, rubbed ointment on the infection and cut the wire.  So Jaako was set.  Or so we thought......... That night Jaako began to complain about a sore back.  A mosquito bite he had gotten at the lake had become badly infected.  He had a golf sized cist on his spine.  Our dear friend Nunga tried to squeeze the pus out, but it just got too painful and Jaako was overwhelmed.  We then brought him to a clinic, where they gave him 6 freezing needles and squeezed the cyst clean.  Poor Jaako!  It was such a horrible ordeal.  We managed to stay healthy for the last 5 or 6 days then and we returned to Canada.   After being home for about 3 or 4 weeks, I was hospitalized for a Malaria relapse.  The dose of quinine I was in killed that virus and my gallbladder in the process and 4 weeks ago my gallbladder came out!  But now we are all healthy and recovered.  I am ready to begin to document my trip.  Hopefully the saying "Better late than never" applies here.

I told the story of all our illnesses not to gain sympathy.  But to let people know that although a trip to Africa is awesome and I would highly recommend it, it can't be romanticized and it's not a holiday or vacation for us. 

Either way, illnesses or not, I would never trade our trips to Malawi in for anything.  Being able to help one child, one family, one school at a time is all we need to keep going.  It is absolutely rewarding!!

I hope to in the next few weeks, begin to blog about each village we visited and give you a snap shop of what Hope for Malawi did and how we were able to help.

I want to thank you for your support these past years.  Hope for Malawi exists because of caring people like you!

Until next time,


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sorry no internet

Good Morning,

I must apologize for me and the kids not keeping our blogs updated.  But this trip has been the worst so far for power outages, no internet signals, etc... etc.........  We went an entire 10 days without any kind of internet access.  It was quite frustrating!

But anyhow, my last blog mentioned the beginning of our trip and this blog is close to the end of our trip.  We've had a very busy time here in Malawi.  Driving place to place and visiting project after project.  To the point where my head is slightly spinning and I'm trying to remember with the quick notes I scribbled, what I saw where!!

We went to check out two of the schools we left retrofit money for last time we were here.  Unga 1 had done amazing things with the money we left.  They even kept every receipts, documented where all the money went and presented me with a budget of items that are still quite urgent to complete.  We will definately be leaving them with some more so that they can continue the good work.  They are all about involving the community and the students.  The students actually have a class on brick making, so that is how alot of the bricks for the school are made!  It gives students ownership in their school as well!  Brilliant!

Unga 2 on the otherhand, did not spend our money well.  I couldn't see any sign of change from our last visit, things had just continued to deteriate even further.  Although my heart goes out to the students who attend that school in those horrid conditions, HFM sadly can't help them.  Unless the head master, teachers and community are willing to take the money and work hard to make it stretch and do what work they can on their own, they're school will not move forward.  We have to sow our money into projects that are making a difference with the money we leave.  But it really broke my heart to see those students with so much hope in their eyes.   It was a very difficult decision to not leave money with them.  Hopefully a lesson will be learned, and on our next trip we see that they have truly tried to help the school on their own and we can again begin to assist them.

We then met up with my very dear friend Katherine, my amai in Malawi.  (My Mom)  I love her dearly.  She is a fantastic 75 year old woman who had us pooped out by the end of the day with the speed she was showing us progress on her projects!!   Katherine has assisted many communities with starting up preschools for kids aged 2 to 5.  They come, learn English and have a warm meal.  The kids were so proud to show off their alphabet and calendar skills!  I was very impressed!!   Adorable little kids! And this time they weren't as scared of the azungu's as last time!! (foreigner)  Only a few screamed in utter fear at us!  lol  Poor kids.............

We then visited some of Katherine's dams.  The dams are usually built and run by woman that are HIV positive.  This allows them an income to support their families and themselves.  They stock the dams with fish and use the water to water the crops they have planted in the area.  It was wonderful!  The woman took such care of it and their crops were so green and healthy!  Better than anywhere I had seen so far!

Well, this post is getting long.  I'll continue more tonight.  Tomorrow we leave on safari and leave the country on Thursday.  It's always with bittersweet feelings that I leave.  I'm sad to leave my friends here and worry about them until we come again.  But then I'm so excited to see my little boy at home and Andrew.  Coming on these trips sometimes seems at a high expense.  Not just money wise.  But I've left my 6 year old boy at home, 3 times now for a month.  I miss him dreadfully when I'm gone.  I have to actually not allow myself to think of him too often until the end of the trip.  Then I can't wait to get home.  This time we will lay over in Nairobi for 3 nights.  Although I'm so excited to see my childhood friend Maria, I think I might be just a bit anxious to just get going home!  lol

Until later..........


Ps.  I'm not spellchecking this as we are in a rush to leave.....  sorry about the many mistakes I'm sure I've made!!  lol

Monday, August 2, 2010

Another Day in Malawi

Well, another day is drawing to an end here in beautiful Malawi.
Yesterday we visited Area 25 in Lilongwe and handed out Bags of Hope and taught the kids some english songs.  It was really fun!

Today we visited an orphan feeding centre in Namitete.  We were told to prepare for just under 100 kids, so we made 110 bags.  We were 56 short!  This was one of the worst feelings ever!!  Having kids sitting on the benches watching the other kids open their bags.  It was awful!!  I couldn't even look because I was on the verge of bursting into hysterical tears!!  What a hard day.  The director of the centre took down all the names of the children that didn't receive a bag and we are going to send them once we have made them up tomorrow.

Well, I'm signing off before the power goes down!  That seems to be a constant problem every evening here.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

We have arrived in Malawi!

Amazing!  So blessed to have returned to this country again!!  It wasn't without trials, but all that is behind us and we are here!!

A snap shot on our journey here.  We left Thunder Bay airport Wednesday night the 28th at 7:20 p.m.  All went without a hitch.  Flight to Toronto was uneventful and so was our 2 hour airport layover.  We left Toronto around 11:35 to fly to London, England.

We arrived in London in the morning and took the tube into central London and spent about 3 hours walking around checking things out and riding the London Eye.  We then took the tube back to the airport and I pulled out my boarding pass to see which Terminal our flight was leaving from.  UNKNOWING, THIS IS WHEN EVERYTHING WENT SOUTH AND QUICKLY!!!  UGH!!!

There was no terminal printed on our boarding passes, this quite often means you are leaving from the same terminal as you arrived at.  So, we went back to terminal 3 and saw that the Nairobi flight was departing from Lobby A.  We decided to clear security right away so we could have a bite to eat before our flight left at 8:00 p.m.

We passed through security and showed our passports AND BOARDING PASSES to three different airport staff and were cleared for our flight and wished a pleasant journey.  Once thru security I check to see what gate our flight was leaving from, it wasn't listed yet and showed that our flight now did not depart until 9:00 p.m.  I didn't find this odd as flights are delayed quite often.

We went and ate and around 7:00 p.m. decided to check out some duty free shops.  Upon purchasing Janika's pillow the store clerk who needed my boarding pass for the transaction, gave me a really odd look when I handed over my boarding pass, but he did not say anything.   So I paid for her pillow and off we went.

We went to sit by the monitors so we can wait for our gate to come up.  As we were sitting there, I started to feel really uncomfortable about the flight.  I decided to get a closer look at the monitors, no info change.  I went and sat back down.  The feeling kept getting worse and at about 7:15 I decided to pull out the itinerary that the Thunder Bay agent said I didn't need because everything is electronic, but I of course kept it so I can scrapbook it later!!

I read on that itinerary that our flight was leaving from TERMINAL 4!!  AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!  Talk about instant panic!  I told the kids and Hannah to pack up and run!  We ran to a help desk and they confirmed we were in the wrong terminal and couldn't believe that security had cleared us!!  We had to get from one end of Terminal 3 to the other to catch a bus to Terminal 4.  We arrived at the bus pick up location at around 7:25.  The bus was there but wouldn't allow us to board!!   They were on the other side of a glass so they couldn't hear our exclamations!  We were in major panic and tears!  And then he left............

Another bus arrived a few minutes later and parked outside.  The driver was talking to somebody and I was frantically waving out the window and pointing to my watch (well Pirkko's, but that's a different story) and he just kept calming putting out his hand saying hang on!  We kept waving and what seemed about forever, he finally let us board.  I explained to him that our flight left at 8:00 p.m. and we were in a hurry.  He asked you have to board at 8?  I yelled NOOO, our flight leaves at 8, we have 20 minutes to be on that plane!!  Well, he took off like a shotgun!  We were stripping off belts, sweaters, socks etc so we would be ready to clear security AGAIN! What a site we must have been!!  He drove so fast we were stumbling all over!

We arrived at security at about 8:47ish and must have cleared in about a minute or less!  We were pro's at this now!!

We located a monitor and our gate?  WAY ACROSS THE AIRPORT!!  I told Jaako and Hannah to take off and run to the gate and Janika and I would follow.  Due to a poor knee surgery, I can't run, so I walked very, very fast!  Jaako being the awesome son that he is also took my pac and the laptop that we didn't pack up after security and began to run.  I told Jaako not to separate from Hannah!  So they took off!

As Janika is running, and I am walking very, very fast we start hearing announcements, "Would the Polkki family and Wilson family please board the aircraft at gate 8.  We kept hearing the page.  Then it got worse we  heard "Would Polkki and Wilson please come to the gate right now!  You are delaying your plane!!"  A few seconds later, "Polkki and Wilson,  your luggage is being removed from the plane so that the flight can depart!"  I'm thinking oh crap Jaako and Hannah hadn't made it!  And I'm yelling, no don't we're coming!!  At this point I see Hannah just ahead of us and Jaako is nowhere to be seen!

Jaako decided to run ahead once Hannah grew tired.  Although he didnt listen to me, I have to admit he made the right decision, Jaako saved our day!!  He was just running up to the gate when that final announcement was given.  If he had listened to me, we would have certainly missed our flight. With a plea full of emotion he explained what had happened and explained how I couldn't run!  At this point I sent Janika running as well, I figured the more of us that showed up, the more likely they would be to hold the plane!

I then got there and the staff were very understanding and we boarded our flight! The time was 8:00 p.m. on the nose!  How had we run clear across two terminals, taken a bus ride and cleared security and arrived at our gate all in 35 minutes???  A miracle!  We couldn't believe it!  We were so shocked that we had made it.

As we boarded the aircraft all the passengers were glaring at us and when we sat down, some guys said with a laugh "So you must be the Polkki's and the Wilsons!!"  We all cracked up!  They announced to the whole flight that we were holding them up!  The worst part?  Once we boarded, the plane didn't move anywhere for about 15 minutes!!  What the heck?!?!?!

But anyway, we were on our flight, high fiving each other for making it and probably annoying everybody even more!!  Ha ha ha

We arrived in Nairobi at 6:30 a.m. and had major flight delays.  We were exhausted and just wanted to get to Malawi!!  We finally left and arrived in Malawi quite late, but we cleared customs wonderfully and we were in Malawi.  Our second home!

What a feeling to just walk out of the airport and smell the air that I love to breath and see the smiling faces of my friends!  This is always one of my favourite moments.  My lungs just fill with Malawian air and my heart soars to be here once again.  I can't describe the feeling, but it's a great one.

I will write more tomorrow about our days here. That is if we have power.  We have had black outs every evening here so far.  Tonight the power came back on early enough for all of us to blog.

So until tomorrow..............................................


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Another trip planned

Well, it's official. We are heading back to Malawi in August 2010. I realized this summer that I really missed my friends there and it has been over a year since I've seen them. To wait another year seems long and I'm getting anxious. I find myself thinking, do they have enough food? Were they warm enough this past winter season? Did they have enough seed to plant this spring? They are just now heading into their summer season and I hope their crops prosper.

I don't think we realize how simple our lives actually are. I know many struggle on a day to day basis. My family does. But when I put it into perspective to what I have experienced in Malawi, it brings me back to a heart of thanks. I am truly thankful for my family, friends and even my house that at times seems to be falling down around me. It still keeps me and my family warm and safe.

So being that it's the Thanksgiving season, lets all truly be thankful for all that we have been given. We grumble at things that break or things that we don't have, but we should be thankful that we have things to break down. We have a family that is alive and healthy. And when sickness does come, we have a hospital we can go to and medicines to take. It truly is a lot to be thankful for!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Trip so far.

Our time here in Malawi so far has been excellent. We've accomplished many things but many things still need doing. We've handing about 1200 Bags of Hope, helped a man with medical bills, provided Hiv medications for a lady for about 2 or 2 and half years. We've travelled to many villages distributing maize and Jaako has been speaking to the children.

Tomorrow we head to Mangochi and Chikulo which are very remote villages near Lake Malawi. They are the forgotten in Malawi. We will be spending a few days visiting some projects started by Catherine our good friend as well as visit sites for new plans by our friends Tracey and Mick. We are very excited to go and see how we can help. We will be spending time in Chikulo with host families and getting to know village life. We will also spend a night in their huts with them. I can't wait to go and truly experience how these people live, to be a part of their community.
Eat what they eat, sleep where they sleep and just be as they are each and every day.

I'm not sure if we will have any internet connection while we are gone so we may not be able to report back until then.