Saturday afternoon, Sandy, Ginny, and I drove a half hour outside of Blantyre to take part in a Malaria awareness event in Lunzu, a bustling market center with several lodges, a conference center, a few bottle shops and a large primary school. The event started with a walk through the town with everyone involved dressed in bright red shirts that read “Malungo Zii” which means silence malaria. We walked behind a large banner and a local school’s drama group. The students were singing and dancing as we progressed down the road; people stood and stared – some smiled and waved, some joined in the group, and some asked where they could get the t-shirts. We ended up at the primary school, having attracted most of the town with our chanting, dancing, and red shirts.
Everyone lined up in a semicircle around the stage where someone from Sandy’s NGO gave a brief talk on malaria prevention. I stood next to two teenagers who were curious about who we were, where we come from, and what America is like. The Black Missionaries played a set – they are the stars of the Malawian music scene. Everyone in the crowd knew every lyric and were dancing along. There was also a dance troupe with drummers and the event culminated with a soccer match.
There were probably two and a half thousand people gathered for the event. Sandy, Ginny, and I were the only azungu. People were so lovely and gracious. I spent most of the soccer game surrounded by children teaching me Chichewa.
We don’t even think about malaria in the west. It’s not part of our lives. But here, people live with the threat every day. Cathy, the lady who helps us with the house, lost her oldest son to malaria last week. It is so frightening that such a small annoying insect can be a killer. Here is more about the campaign: http://unitedagainstmalaria.org/
A few more pictures: