Last year, through nothing but naivety and being unprepared for what I was shown (See 2010 Update). I was unaware and had never been exposed to the conditions that the elderly were living in, not far from the beaten track. Unfortunately, at the time, I could not act on what horror I had seen. However, although out of sight, it certainly was not out of mind. Through two independent fundraisers, (See 2011 fundraising update) specifically for this cause, we were able to allocate time to the granny project in a way we felt most effective.
The conditions that they live in are indescribable. To show a little insight, in my opinion; they are neglected, abused, unappreciated and are left to live in inhumane conditions as a mockery of their community. Simply – they are FORGOTTEN. It is unclear to why this is; the basic understanding that we gathered was due to ‘witch craft’. Although there beliefs are not to be dismissed it was not possible to neither except nor understand.
What we did
Prior to the trip we loaded a 10ton trick with over 50 Tin sheets, Hundreds of nails, large timbers Mesquite nets, blankets, and Kilos of donation clothes for Men, Women, Children and Babies. Although we didn’t know quite how we were going to do the roofs we approached it with ‘where there is a will there is a way’ and threw out selves in the deep end. We were assited by a man who was known to the Orphanage (from working along side the Mcandawire family) showed us around the village and ‘said’ he was taking us to the houses that were most in need. To little surprise it appeared that many of the houses that we were shown had some form of relationship with the man, this was hard to understand as well as frustrating as all we were trying to achieve a goal that was pure and there was no need for corruption. We soon managed to get over this problem by simply asking people, ‘ who is most venerable and who is most in need’ This is when the project really took off.
The first house:
Was more of a learning curve as she was a grandmother to a Tilinanu girl who had just had her roof re-strewed in preparation for the rain. Although it has been re-done it was a thin layer and gaps still appeared in the bedroom where children were sleeping so we iron sheeted only over the bed room as we felt that there were more houses that were more in need.
This was a small village that had children everywhere; we were welcomed with smiles, waves and intrigued faces. There was a grandmother who was living on her own. She was a placid lady who had no means of fixing her roof for the rains. We sheeted the whole house, provided her with a mosquito net and blanked. The most beautiful thing was that the villagers were up on the roof helping and teaching the local way of roofing as well as learning from the British ways of doing things. With the first house we were trying to do what they wanted in a style that they were used to, but it became apparent that mixing the two diverse sets of skills was much more beneficial in the long run. The women from the community were helping to clean in and around the house. This was just the effect that we wanted, we wanted to integrate and for them to help them selves apposed to waiting for people to do it for you.
We amended five houses, protecting them from the forthcoming rainy season and providing them with blankets and mosquito nets. As well as integrating ourselves with the surrounding community with donations and talks of what we are aiming to achieve. We hope that we were listened to and when we return to visit and offer more help that our work already done is still remaining. My dream, although we are certainly running before we can walk, is to encourage hard working volunteers to carry on this project.