Another entry from my journal before the trip to Malawi.
July 17, 2007
Last night during the traveler’s meeting we watched a documentary, Invisible Children. The film documented African children who slept on the verandas or basements of a hospital to avoid being abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army and used as child soldiers. Although taking place in Uganda, a country plagued by war and unrest, some of the encounters were a grave reminder of the poverty that still plagues many African countries. This could be a very long post with all of the places that we are going to visit, but I wanted to write about an incident that my priest recounted to our group. She did not experience it first hand but was able to relate the stories.
There is this idea I suppose about white people from the first world swooping in, giving away goodies, then leaving. Trying to change that image is difficult.
During a trip, the travelers were drinking bottled water. Once the bottles were empty, they didn’t think too much about them. However, they were a prized commodity as the locals could pour cooking oil into them for use or to sell. On the last day of traveling, the travelers thought it would be a nice idea to gather all the water bottles and distribute them to the village, but instead of a happy moment, the travelers were confronted with an angry mob. There were not enough bottles for everyone and older people were trampling younger ones trying to get the bottles. What started out as a well-intentioned action left a bitter taste for the travelers. Even though Malawi is a democratic country and has been free since its liberation in 1964, the actions people take when in the face of extreme poverty can be shocking.