“Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes on worrying about are of no importance whatsoever.”
Each morning begins with a trip to the shore for a refreshing shower. While mothers and children bathe and get ready for the day ahead, the husbands prepare for work out on the water. There is this quiet attentiveness that accompanies sunrise. It is about starting each morning with grace, appreciation, and stillness; to be with family during one of the most serene and enchanting times during the day.
Fishing is a very popular form of employment along the lake. Fisherman are up before dawn to ready themselves for battle against the rising tides. Once caught, these fish are sold in the local marketplaces to families in the village. The kind of community and dedication to provide one another with these resources is unparalleled by any other place I’ve seen.
How much grace do you need to boil water? A lot. It’s a journey that starts with an empty jug, a long walk, some manual labor, a mud stove, and ends in a cup of tea with cookies. It’s more than the appearance of a underdeveloped and way of living or lack of progress; it’s about a beautifully simplistic life. One that, when experienced, makes you stop to think, to touch, to feel; to be in that moment and appreciate how much time and precision it takes to provide for your body.
The days here are sunny and thick as though you’ve been surrounded by a warm blanket. The ground is dust and softens with each step you take. The air is open and breathable. The breeze, especially in the shade of a sausage tree, is worth living for. The locals call it Mwegea.
Each home with mud floors and a thatched roof is made from the earth and from the hands of strong men. There is value in creating a foundation for your family. Inside this one, light shines down from the edges of the straw, illuminating the personality inside. It’s impeccably clean and organic, devoid of the schisms that varying objects of material worth produce.
This is Rosca. She is 12-years-old, quick to laugh and has the most beautiful smile. The day before this photo was taken, Rosca was living on and off the streets in Blantyre, trying to find work where she could because she had to take care of her younger brother. But on this day, she was brought to Chimwemwe, an organization that creates a home for homeless children and runaways. Here, they’re known as “street kids”. Most have no family due to HIV/AIDS, some have run away from abusive homes, while others like Rosca lived off the streets trying to hide from the police while looking for work. Chimwemwe is a place that provides love, support, mentorship, and access to education for these children.
This is Mary. She’s a natural mother and caretaker of her large family. You can see it in the way she handles each situation and each person with grace; encouraging them, challenging them, and cracking a joke. She’s strong, charismatic, and has a heart full of kindness.
School in this village infiltrates into the social fabric of daily life. It is measured by classroom lessons, creativity, patience, and playing lighthearted jokes on friends. No matter where you are on this planet, school is a time to be yourself and break away from the limitations of reality; where friends become lifelong, teachers become mentors, and dreams of becoming a doctor or a lawyer are supported and encouraged.
After school, children create their own individual atmospheres characterized by interest. Some like to jump rope, others prefer football. And everyone loves to dance and sing, to celebrate loudly and praise unconditionally.
Children visit with one another and help out with chores around the house while mothers visit the market. Girls love to huddle together in groups playing games, drawing pictures, and gossiping. Boys like to wander in packs with a soccer ball in hand. They like to annoy the girls with pranks while some go down to the lake to help their fathers with the fish.
Daily life is routine and simplistic at best. It’s predetermined and predictable. Everyday is dry and hot and the sun casts it’s light even in the darkest of places. Yet there is a sweetness to life here.
I could remain here all day. It’s blue and green and everything in between. It’s simple, earnest, and exactly how it should be. This is Malawi, Africa.