Sr Rosemary Ng’andu writes about life in Konzalendo and the hills and valleys that are part of daily life for the sisters who live there…
“We can keep writing in the eNews about Malawi and especially the place where we live – Konzalendo, but only experience of the place can open you to the reality that the Parish Church is the only place where we do not have to ascend or descend.
Originally the house where we live was the priest’s house and the priest’s bedroom had a door which opened straight into the sacristy. This door was closed just before we came to occupy the house.
What I really want to talk about in this article is the two words “Descend and Ascend”.
When we stand outside our house which is built on hill, which I call Church Hill, all one sees are hills and valleys. On this hill there is the church, the convent, and a very small priest’s house which has a pit latrine outside near the house. There is also the catechist’s house with its own pit latrine.
The ‘descending and ascending’ problem starts when one want to visit the neighbours who are very close to us. The primary school is across the main road from us, and to go there one has to ascend a hill on the way and descend the same hill coming back. On the left side of our house there is a small village. There is a road between them and us and one has to go down “impedi” a valley and across a small river and ascend on the “mphiri” a hill. This is what goes on all around us. We cannot move without going into the impedi or a mphiri and this has made us acquire a third leg! Or rather a walking stick. No third leg – no walk!
There are sometimes when some of us fail to move in a group and if you have ascended without help you might find it difficult to descend and so you have to change direction and take a longer way back than you took when going. We have got used this way of walking. Ascending one has to go very slowly with the help of the third leg or you may find oneself into the impedi. Going up ones heart tells you how many steps to take and then take a rest. It does not matter where one visits, it always takes time to reach and come back home. The people are always welcoming. They always wonder why we cannot run up and down these hills because they are used to doing it, and they find it no problem even the children of one year go up and down. But then as they grow old they have problems with their knees. A lot of those we give communion to are old people especially women who cannot walk anymore because of bad knees and no hospital for knee replacement.”