Boarding the bus on the first day we had no idea the experience we were about to gain. It started with a surprise visit to Binnra Village. The villagers were excited to meet us and show us their homes. The language barrier was difficult at first, but we were able to communicate through laughter and smiles. We took pictures of the children and adults, then showed them the images. They were ecstatic to see their reflection, and we realized this may have been the first time they have seen themselves through a camera.
One woman proudly welcomed us into her home. At first, we thought about everything she did not have, but after hearing her story through interpretation we saw how proud she was of what she did own. This was our first step and opportunity to view their lives and homes through a new perspective. We waved goodbye and headed towards Mtendere Village.
When we finally arrived to Mtendere our minds were filled with nothing but anticipation. Going down the hill to the gates of the orphanage seemed to last the longest time. We were instantly welcomed to Mtendere by a song sung by all of the children. The beautiful song was in half Chichewa (the Malawian native language) and the other half in English. What we understood from the song was “Welcome! We’re happy you’re here!”. The children and staff had a genuine excitement that filled our hearts with many emotions, bringing home the feeling that this is finally real:
The children displayed their talents by singing, playing instruments, and many different dances. The overall sense of pride in themselves, each other, and their culture was apparent. At the end of the ceremony, we were given gifts. Each of us was given a gourd that serves as a drinking cup to use back home, and to have as a constant reminder of our friends back in Malawi.
Thinking about our first full day here is nothing short of an eye opener into the lives of complete strangers. We were welcomed into their homes and especially welcomed into their hearts!