|Mathew rode the bike trail with me for a little distance.|
Mathew said he had not been on a bicycle in a very long time, and there certainly are no bike paths in Malawi, thought many people ride as their means of transportation. He seemed a little uncomfortable riding with me on the trail, so I rode ahead for a ways and then we met up a little while later. He said that he enjoyed the ride and found people to be very friendly. At first, he had been a little fearful that someone might jump out from the trees. He was a little unsure how he might be treated here on the trail. He stopped after riding for a little bit and lay down in the grass to rest; he kept his helmet on which may have prompted a fellow rider to ask if he was alright. He said that was the point where he felt less concerned and more comfortable with this environment. Someone was actually concerned about his well being and that made him pleasantly surprised and happy.
|Mathew and the Kaira's|
Mathew had met Leah Kaira before, when she traveled to her homeland of Malawi with Karen and Stephen in 2010. The Kaira's have been very helpful to Educate Malawi in sharing their experience and knowledge about Malawi and the United States. They have helped bring some cultural understanding and awareness that has been used in deciding how to proceed with projects in Malawi and they have also helped spread awareness about Malawi here in the United States. We spent a few hours with Leah, Sam their children and Leah's parents, who were here visiting the United States for the first time. It was noticeable to us that Mathew enjoyed speaking his native Chichewa language with the family during our dinner visit. We had fish, which Mathew enjoyed very much. It seems that the more bones there are in the fish, the better it is...or something.
|At the Pequot Museum in Mashantucket, CT - Cultural Survival Bazaar|
|Mathew was able to walk through the museum and view some of the displays|
|At the Foxwoods Casino|
Photos taken at the Crossgates Mall in Albany, NY
Mathew was able to see another part of the state of New York...again, he commented on the number of trees along our drive from Western MA to NY. He really enjoyed the malls that we have here and wanted to spend more time there....it was challenging, Malls are not my favorite place to go, so we did not spend as much time there as he would have liked, I'm sure!
|Educate Malawi bike-a-thon registration table|
|Stonington, CT - seeing the Atlantic for the first time up close|
MOVED TO MAINE IN JULY!
|Mathew at Mt. Sugarloaf, Carrabbassett Valley, Maine|
|My friend Michelle sent him a t-shirt from her neck of the woods|
|Hummingbirds on our porch...he loved and was intrigued by these birds|
|Tim, Shannon and Mathew at the beginning of hike up Bald Mountain|
|Mathew at Cascade Gorge in Rangeley, ME|
|Mathew and Stephen at the top of the tower of Bald Mountain|
airplane...anyone who has ever flown (AND who has traveled this distance) knows what a huge deal that is. We climbed the mountain and though he was afraid of the height of this tower, he was the first one to the top! Proud of himself, he said, "there were small children who were doing it and I didn't want to look scared. Also, I came all this way and I had to go to the top".
|Mathew at the completion of the GoMalawi 5K in Rockland, ME...displaying his completion medal|
|Fried dough at the fair...a U.S. tradition|
|Going up Ira mountain in Kingfield, ME|
|At a lookout on Ira mountain|
|ski trails in the summer....|
This was our second trip to Sugarloaf...this time, we were going to zipline!! Yet another testament to Mathew's bravery....he was not alone! Most of us had not done this before; we too wanted to appear brave for our visitor and friend...mission accomplished!
|Going up the ski lift...|
|Mathew was the first to go from the first of five platforms|
|At the completion of the tour...a proud Malawian for sure!|
|We explored a bit north of Sugarloaf and found this cool site.|
|The morning of Mathew's departure|
On the night before Mathew left, we all shared some thoughts of the time we spent together here. It was a time I don't think any of us will forget. Mathew shared that he believed that he was returning to Malawi with a new perspective on our country and his. We had several discussions about goals and plans to reach those goals. We talked about culture, and even struggled with that term and its relevance or necessity in some of the situations we encountered. Mathew expressed gratitude for the opportunity to come to the U.S., something few will experience of those friends and family of his in Malawi. This experience was more enlightening than I would have expected and I learned more about Malawi AND the U.S., by having Mathew here with us. I shared with Mathew the experience I had about returning to my country after visiting his, and pointed out that he may have some similar challenges returning home. It was a challenge for me returning here and I think that I thought it would 'end' but am realizing that it simply changed my life and that new awareness continues.
Educate Malawi, Inc. is in a transition phase; partly due to the geographical move of 2 of the founders and partly as a result of this time spent with Mathew. It was a powerful experience and the information learned by all will require some time for personal processing and settling.
We are grateful to have been able to enable Mathew to have this experience and believe it will strengthen our efforts going forward.