Dar to Joburg… World in a Cup!

Internet in Africa is everywhere… if you can find it!

When you do, it takes forever to download a few photos and by that time the place is closing…let alone write a blog!

So, here is a recap of the last few weeks through Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique.

From Sombepa in Dar Es Salaam to Johannesburg there are a few orphanages and adventures to share…

Some funny, some sad, all enriching.

Dar – Iringa, uneventful except for wild animals hanging out along the highway.

Iringa – Mbeya, Baobab country and a fake ticket to Lilongwe.

Mbeya, Tanzania – Lilongwe, Malawi, worthy of a separate blog.

The title would be :

The long, long, long way to Lilongwe!

Fake ticket, Dalla dalla (mini-bus in Tz) changes in the rain, bicycle porters through the mud, pushy money-changers, shared taxi to Karonga, Matola (mini-bus in Malawi) to Mzuzu and finally a bus to Lilongwe. Travel time: 16 hours… Beautiful lake Nyasa and friendly Malawians the highlights of the day.

Lilongwe – Blantyre, bus ride supposed to take 4 hours, appointment with orphanage arranged, all ok!

Only one problem, bus took 8 hours, ran out of gas 3 (!!!!) times and finally offloaded all passengers onto Matola’s for the last 2 kilometres…
I joined the group of youngsters at the back of the bus singing their displeasure at the whole sham!

Blantyre was a breath of fresh air after a week of travel and Geoffrey Chipungu, the uncle of my ex Tahuichi Way player, Stafford, was a fantastic help. He organised another orphanage at the last minute and even drove Footballsmiles to the door!

The door in question was the utopia of orphanages…

The most beautiful, impeccable, professional and inspiring place for children, regardless of background and family situation.

So beautiful that no photos are permitted because things well done breed all kinds of strange creatures from Pandora’s box.

But, you can take a look here: http://www.kondanani.com

Blantyre – Zobue, Mozambique, another odyssey…
Matola to the Malawi border, 8 kilometres from the Mozambique border…very tough negotiations with the taxi driver, the only way to get there!
Bought a sim card for a super inflated price…
Missed the last Chapa (Mini-bus in Moz.) to Tete and stayed the night in a place with no running water, just buckets everywhere.

Zobue – Tete, early morning chapa to Tete, arrived at 7 am, dropped off at the bridge, had to take another chapa to get over the bridge, asked to get to the bus station, told that it was far away and quoted 100 Meticais for that bit…turned out to be 250 metres away! Gave the driver 50 Mets and was supported by the bus drivers telling him not to be greedy!

Tete, found out that there was only one bus to Beira per day, at 4 am! Just missed that one too!

Options: take chapas from town to town, wait 20 hours or hitch-hike the over 500 kms.
Guess what was chosen!

Tete – Beira, after 3 hours by the road with a funky piece of cardboard with Beira written on it, a truck finally stopped and 15 hours later, the beach of Beira was smiling at FootBallSmiles!

Beira, it happened to be the 1st of June, International Children’s Day and there were children everywhere, but not one orphanage in the phone book!
The children were all street kids, looking to pick pockets or something…very depressing, then it began to rain…what a day!

Beira – Maxixe, after the truck, a luxury bus at 4 am seemed in order…ha! First the taxi arrived late, then ran out of gas 50 metres from the gas station, then the bus had broken suspensions and the road was being fixed…you never saw people bounce so much! Hilariously painful!

The bags came out battered and covered in dust, there was a fee for the station toilet that had no water and no paper…pay for what????

I resisted and got on the ferry boat to Inhambane.

Maxixe – Inhambane, nice little boat ride across the bay, downpour on arrival that lasted exactly the length of the pier…everybody soaked! 5 minutes later the sun was shining!

Inhambane – Tofo, the chapa tried to charge 300 meticais… the real price, 15!

Tofo, the most beautiful beach!

Inhambane, the Estrela do Mar orphanage and the story of Joao, 15, abandoned by his uncle when he was 12 in Maputo to go and work in South Africa…He went to the police who said he had family in Inhambane, so they sent him here, only, he has not found his family so he is at the orphanage, the oldest one, responsible, calm, friendly, positive. An inspiring young man!

Inhambane – Maputo, another 4 am departure in a mini-van full of drunk and obnoxious backpackers mixed with all kinds of goods, babies and live chicken as the Mozambicans joined.

Maputo, as soon as the bus unloaded the last of the backpackers, it was off to find a normal pensao, more African. The 1 de Mayo orphanage proved to be another heart-wrenching affair as a father was leaving his two sons (2 and 4 years old) to the orphanage, unable to provide for them…moving and beyond sad as they wailed away.

Maputo – Johannesburg, finally a proper bus! Then over two hours at the border…World Cup fever!

Johannesburg, amazing party, vuvuzela cacophony and smiles of all colours and continents!

Opening Ceremony missed in traffic, stadium and game one fantastic fraternal fest… Viva Mexico! Bafana Bafana…Viva Bafana!

After the celebration, the children again, supported by our new friends Gareth McCusker and Daniel Pittaluga of South Africa and Argentina. That was eye-opening as you can read in the previous entry.

Durban next…


4 Responses to “Dar to Joburg… World in a Cup!”

  1. Chandra Says:

    Kondanani Orphanage…
    Set on its own private land…Kondanani is a ‘paradise’ on Earth..All due to the work of Betty, her crew of volunteers, staff and of course a little help from Jesus and God…as we were to get to know!
    We were taken on a tour by our hostess Monica, an English woman who had been drawn to Malawi on a mission and had been there for the last seven years. As Kondanani is only 12 years old, with the kids taken in only as babies, she has had a lot to do with the education and well being of the children.
    She is presently in charge of educating the older kids and we spent a long while discussing the trials and errors of learning Maths!! They follow the Accelerated Christian Education system and each child has its own cubicle where they sit and FOCUS…raising a flag to ask for help…They work through pace books; they set out their own work goals and try to achieve them…I like this bit..but not sure about the confined work space…
    Kondanani is a bit old school (Christian missionary style), with new schooling methods which will, I am sure educate the kids with far reaching success…

    Wow those kids can run!
    I spent the morning/afternoon doing sprint running trials, in age groups from 7-11, boys and girls. They were to compete at a local international school’s games, so I had to help them pick the best runners…
    I fired them up and so that they would run like rocket jets…as apposed to long distance Gizelles…there were 5 and 10 km winners in the pack and they knew how to run…but just not fast off the blocks and in a straight, single track. I was brought up with Linford Christie (a local London hero) and Carl Lewis, and being a lover of running fast…I was certainly all fired up! But…here we go…when I went to show them how to do it…my legs, which mind you had been out of action, seated for the last 3-4 days in cramped buses from Tanzania to Blantyre…would not go forward…so I was running a head of myself and they buckled and I went flying to the floor…crazing my elbow and hand…He..He…that’s the way to do it! I rolled over and had a good laugh…
    The kids were a bit shocked and concerned…check out my bloody wounds…But it gave them a bit more intention and their faces grew serious there after!! And some of them have serious talent…cool calm focus that all runners need…TO WIN!

    Is Jesus in your Heart?
    Well…sorry no…but I know he is in yours! The kids were relentless with this question…I respect their views and upbringing but I personally am not a Christian so i had to defer the question…

    Those super cute babies and toddlers…
    Oh this was heart wrenching…bunks made of brightly coloured wood, two to a bunk…lying there with bright, curious, mistrustful, afraid, unknowing eyes….The cut with mother..oh still so fresh…ahh…I am a natural mother…but what can you do…but smile and hug and compassionately give…they need soo much affection…A famous M…adopted a baby from here recently and I know why…If I could I would too!

    Thank you Kondanani, for your blessings, wonderful brunch, dinner and eye opening vision of human survival, education and mastery…We’ll see!!

  2. Chandra Says:

    Inhambane, the Estrela do Mar orphanage…
    Ah…what a place…Inhambane…reminds me of a mixture of Goa (of yesteryear) and Indonesia…with art deco and Portoguese churches thrown into the mix…oh and backpackers on their laptops…what did we call them again Melchior..? And ex-pat restaurant and hotel owners bitching around coffee and cigarettes! Interesting place!!…To find a state run orphanage…Well little did we know but we were already meeting some of the orphans on the street…Hanging around the restaurant…
    We met with the manager in her office..not a computer in sight, whose name I can’t remember (not good with names…never forget a face though!)…she had one of those big charismatic faces…open smile..open heart…and even though she was talking to us both in Portuguese, which I can understand a bit of…I knew she meant well.
    After finding out what they needed we were off to the local Chinese…yes Chinese supermarket…they are all over Africa..the Chinese…building roads, donating buses etc..in return for…hmmm a variety of resources…I gather..fish from Tanzania and Mozambique, wood from Malawi…
    With my bit of Mandarin, I charmed the sales people and soon we had a shopping cart on loan to cart the schoolbooks, pens, rubbers,balls and schoolbags…oh and nappies for the disabled children…Which Melchior cheerily pushed back up and over the hill to the orphanage as I sat and ordered food!
    We would meet the kids on Sunday…

    Sunday came with a slow start…
    A 45 minute trek along the beach, with me winging that I couldn’t go for a swim…but hey we had work to do! So then the cramped chappa (minibus) ride into town, of which I was having enough of by then…and then to the orphanage…

    Oh their faces…
    What delight as they ungraciously grabbed schoolbooks and pens etc from Melchior’s hands…what do you expect it is not that often they receive gifts like these…the pens brought woops of delight…Not all the kids go to school…I was a bit disappointed…seemed like a bit of an open gate policy…with the kids able to go in and out..
    I met with some of the mentally handicapped kids and little Anna…the most adorable little 2 year old you have ever seen…She waddled along with her big new ball in her hands…unfazed by the steep steps and ditch…her young companions encouraging her long…run Anna run..
    One of my friend’s with a Down syndrome…kept breaking down into tears whenever I left him…he was intent on being hugged and part of the party…
    We watched Melchior and the older boys play football…they are talented by the way…and I kept Anna from wailing…she was tired and snotty..!
    It was a short visit but very fruitful…I know we made a difference…they were smiling and happy when we left…
    For lunch…
    And hey I got to sit in the front of the chappa with the driver for a change..and take photos…and I also got my swim on Tofo…and not in Tofu thank god!! Gorgeous…

  3. Chandra Says:

    The 1 de Mayo orphanage….

    After a long winding finding orphanage walk around Maputo…with a visit to the Museum of Natural History thrown in we eventually found 1 de Mayo…
    A well run, freshly painted good looking state run orphanage. I’m looking for words to describe the scene of the man leaving his two sons there…but I think Melchior did a good job…and I just can feel the feelings of that moment!

    We came back a couple of days later…bearing reading and reference books, amongst other things including footballs of course…which I thought was a good idea…but I have to say I had my doubts as the manager of the orphanage started to leaf through them and then I began to lose sight of them under her pile of paper work…maybe I was thinking a bit ambitiously here…but a 16 year old girl was given one of the African traditional story books Melchior had chosen, so I was happy to see her proudly standing in the courtyard amidst the young screaming kids absorbed in her book…

    And what were those kids like…
    Running around chasing each other..pushing pulling…holding on to their new balls as if their life depended on it…bursting into fits of tears or anger as they were brusquely taken away from them…not much sharing going on here… It reminded me of my own re-entrance to schooling in a London inner city primary school, after my ‘hippy’ upbringing…peace and love doesn’t get you far on the streets..man!
    Wow I was trying not to feel threatened by the amounts of snot flowing from the younger kids noses…who all wanted to clamber all over me to be hugged…this was the case with all the younger orphans I met along the way…and I had to remind myself we were in the Southern hemisphere and this was winter…I hung out for a time with a little toddler whose head was very much out of proportion with the rest of his body…I think this is a sign of Meningitis…seen a lot of kids with this…and we just sat watching the kids, some curious of me, but mostly absorbed in their playtime and playing a bit of street footie with Melchior…
    They just loved having their photos taken and after a while I had to put my camera away so they wouldn’t get distracted…They were a bunch of posers…Very cute..
    So touching to see the little girl with no forearms playing with her friends…soo much self-righteous-ness…nothing was going to stop her enjoying her life…
    That was my last visit to an orphanage…and again it was short and powerful…They all lined up singing a hymn and dancing for their tea time…Wow…touching!
    Thank you FootballSmiles for this opportunity to make some smiles…
    Good luck with the rest of the trip…

  4. Hari M. Desta Says:

    Melchior, maybe you could adopt an orphange and raise funds for them in the future. Every blog could be a movie on its own.

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