Saturday, 2 July 2011

A Cultural Encounter

Students from last year's Malawi Field Study donated money as a gift for the orphanage, Mtendere staff decided that the money could be used for a pizza party, chickens, or goats. We thought a gift of goats would be most useful, but thought of it more as a pet.  Many villages have goats that can be used for milk and other purposes. We were informed that the goats are not to be used as pets, but for a meal for the children.  The goats were given in the early morning and slaughtered right before lunch. 
            We were invited to watch the slaughter because it has such significance in the culture, some students watched while others chose not to. The men and boys of the village are the only ones who can participate in the slaughter, no matter the age. The men and boys showed such pride in the events, but did not exactly understand why we showed such interest in the events.  They explained to the brave students that attended; that slaughters are not vicious and it is an activity of great pride.  Overall, it was a very humane encounter of which we will not forget.
            It is interesting to realize that when something like meat is so readily available, it is easy to not think how it comes to our plates.  Learning about the cultural significance and importance of the goats within the village made us realize that the goats were more of a meaningful gift than just a pizza party for the students.

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