Day 4, 2nd Day in Chilinza
After our normal chapel today we did a sort of Q&A with leaders of Live, Love (the organization here in Malawi that we partner with.) We were able to ask them questions about Chiefs, family life, work and how women are treated in the tribes. Here’s some of what I learned:
You become a Chief through lineage/inheritance, family line
If a husband dies, the widow has to return to her home tribe and leave her kids behind
There’s a cult called Gule Wamkulu that everyone lives in fear of
One woman’s child is considered every woman’s child, they all look after each other’s kids
Learning about the Malawian culture was enlightening. Their ways of thinking have actually come a long way. For example, in the past, a woman was often married off at 13, or other very young ages. Now, there’s a law that says they must be 18 or older to be wed. And, the issues with the cult have subsided substantially too, especially in the villages where Christianity is now dominant. Still though, there is a long way to go.
Once we finished the Q&A we made our way to Chilinza for our first full day of teaching as yesterday was only a couple hours. Today was different than the first day. From the moment I stepped off the bus, I felt connections form between the kids and I. Martionne and Rachel taught the kids MSC’s song, “You Sine,” and I stood in the crowd with my arms around the youngers as they attempted to sing in English. This was special to me because the kids kept looking up at me and when I’d catch their eye they’d smile and get all bashful. So, I paid special attention to every little one around me by rubbing their backs, winking at them or tickling them- just anything to make them feel seen and loved.
After teaching them the song, we broke up into our classrooms again. Today we worked hard to try to draw out real, honest answers from them about things in their lives that have made them feel both light and darkness. Then, we passed out paper and colored pencils and told them to draw what makes them feel light. At first they drew a lot of literal things like the sun or a candle. That’s all correct, but again, we’re trying to peel back layers here. So, we re-explained to them that while yes, all those things are light, we also want to know what other things or gifts allow them to feel light and spread their light- more so in terms of love or Jesus. So, once we went over that again, they started drawing things like their friends, or men selling food to the needy. They also got a kick out of drawing Kendal and I, which was just too sweet. They called Kendal, Kendo too, which was the best. They’d draw us and then call out our names so we’d come look and the moment we’d tell them how much we loved their art, their eyes would light up like the sun- it was special.
I really bonded with the kids through this exercise because I’d go way overboard in my reaction of how great I thought their drawings were, because I saw how impactful that simple affirmation was. They’d yell out, “Kah-Tay” ( which is how they say my name) and I’d come running, put on a huge show displaying my amazement over their work and then take a picture of them with it. They ate it up. They also would dissolve into hysterics over my crazy facial expressions, so I made sure to really play those up.
This showed me that words aren’t the only way you can show someone you love them. Those kids and I can’t understand a word each other is saying, but I know without a doubt that by the end of the day, we both felt light and love.