Day 23: Sunday 9th September
Cue Cold War Kids – Hospital Beds
The inaugural Bond in Africa group has experienced its fair share of health scares over the past three weeks. Be it the impending malaria, a broken wrist, a scorpion bite or the inevitable bilharzia diagnosis that awaits those brave enough to plunge into Lake Malawi. Today, however, we have been dealt with the worst ailment of all . . . the post BAfrican blues.
It hit some of us earlier than others and I suspect the symptoms are still yet to show for some. It begins with a strong pain in the gut, a loss of appetite and then it spreads to your head. Questions brew like a violent storm.
What will I do now?
How can I go back?
Who will understand why I laugh when I hear the number 25 or hear someone ask for a desert menu? The longing to be around those who shared in the experience becomes intense and everything that was once familiar becomes irritating and unnatural.
Reflection and action are the wonder drugs that when consumed simultaneously can help fight the painful blues. Take the time to think back on our achievements over the past 3 weeks, and do something with these memories; write about them, share them, laugh about them, make a photo book, movie, song about them.
We have achieved so much:
- We have transformed ten dilapidated primary school rooms into classrooms that will allow the 70 students who cram into each one to let their imaginations run wild.
- We have pulled and pushed each other to concur Mt Mulanje, Africa’s 3rd largest mountain the same mountain that crafted the 3,002m backdrop to our incredible mountain home.
- We have set in motion two incredibly important projects that will see the extension and renovation of the Mulanje Mission Hospital operating theatre and wider promotion of the endearing creations of the Tikondane Aids support group.
- We have had the opportunity to work alongside some truly inspiring members of the Mulanje Mission to create a partnership that we all hope is the beginning of something truly special for both the mission itself and Bond University community.
All of these achievements can be measured with photos, reports and for some the paint that will not wash away. What cannot be measured is the personal development that each and every one of us has undergone. We learnt to deal with cold showers, drop toilets, group decisions, thieving street children, African time, chicken for dinner, police fines, dad jokes, people not quick with their number, no access to tea plantations, no access to Mozambique, bad biscuits, South African airlines, petrol stops, faulty hammers, minimal wifi and of course the Dutch. With each difficulty encountered on this trip we stepped up as a group and tackled it head on, usually in song. (GAYYYYYYYYYY – Señor Chang).
On our final bus ride from Brisbane to the Gold Coast I began making notes for this blog and asked everyone for some facts and figures about the trip. Between the “bottles of hand sanitiser used: 114” and “Kilometers traveled: 30,000” there was one common, and somewhat clichéd, response “New friendships made: 24”. We have all been extremely thankful for the group that put together for the inaugural BAfrica expedition. I recall on day 9 the observation was made: “Isn’t it unusual how you can be genuinely proud of group of people that you now call your friends after only knowing most of them for only a week?” Although their have been a number of tense times on the expedition we have returned as close friends with strong admiration for one another.
From our friends and families we ask for patients, our experiences over the past three weeks have been incredible and we promise the stories will eventually flow into our conversations with you all. The hyper era that we have just experienced is full of stories we cannot wait to share, friendships we cannot wait to prosper and moments we can’t wait to reminisce.
As we all step into the shower tonight and attempt to wash the paint from our hair, the smell from our feet and the soil from our faces, what we wont be able to wash away are the marks that Africa and the inaugural BAfrica group have left on us and for this I am happy.
Sleep well my African friends I look forward to seeing you again soon.