Last Saturday we arrived back from our final bush trip at Ebakika where we dug a well, built a latrine for a school, built a tree nursery and did a talk at a couple of local schools about cleaning your teeth as well as handing out toothbrushes. This was the toughest trip of the three that we have been on while on the pioneer programme as the work was a lot more physical, think mixing lots of concrete by hand, digging lots and carrying countless bags of sand up a hill, and everyone was beginning to get a bit weary from the previous work. Also this time there were no beautiful beaches to escape to on a day off and on one of our days off we were confined to the campsite as it was general election day.
The well was our favourite project and the one that the villagers got most involved in, they loved teaching us new words and hearing us repeat them, usually to fits of laughter from them. We had great fun one afternoon when the heavens opened and turned the latrine into mud wrestling pit, I got a bit of the action and Viv was an amused spectator.
We really loved the villagers here, particularly the children. Everywhere we went was greeted with choruses of the few English phrases that they have previously been taught – ‘Hello’, ‘How are you?’, ‘What is your name?’ and variations on that theme including ‘Hello goodbye my name!’ The children also got involved in the projects, mostly helping to carry sand or help out at the well.
Other notable moments were finding a scorpion in our tent, Mark breaking his finger and Charlie getting malaria. On our very last night there we were treated to an fantastic performance from the two local village bands with dancers, a really high note to end our bush trips on.
Back in Fort Dauphin Viv and I organised a Christmas day at the orphanage where we made decorations and decorated the school room with the orphans as well as playing musical statues and pass the parcel with them outside. It gave us a really warm glow to have brought a bit of Christmas to the children, the delight on a little boy’s face when he got a watch in pass the parcel was just priceless.
Viv had been feeling particularly tired all week which we put down to the hard work but on Thursday night she developed a fever and on Friday morning it was confirmed as malaria. It isn’t actually as serious as it sounds and the treatment is straight forward as we have caught it early so she’ll be fine in a couple of days and was looking much, much more spritely this morning.
And that’s about our travels almost over. We have until Tuesday left in Fort Dauphin then it’s on to the capital Antananarivo for a couple nights then we fly to Johannesburg on Thursday where we’ll spend the day with Martin and Joanne and later that day we step onto our homeward bound flight arriving in Heathrow at 5.15am on Friday, just 6 days away! We’re getting so excited at coming home and can’t wait to see all our friends and family we’ve been missing so much.
And now I really can say to most of you ‘SEE YOU SOON!!’