Mkutu Village, Malawi … The crowd was growing, and it was evident it was an important event for the area because of the number of government, local, and tribal dignitaries who were arriving for the program. It was the ground breaking for the new hospital to be constructed north of Dedza near Mkutu Village. The facility is a joint venture through the efforts of the Dzidalire Community Development Agency in Malawi, and the Malawi Project in the United States.
It is often difficult to recognize a chief from the rest of his or her village. They live in the same village among the people they serve, and in dress and possessions, there is often little or no difference between them.. It is quite different than with many, if not most, politicians around the world who are immediately recognized in their stand out appearance from those they are commissioned to serve.
As the ceremony begins the dignitaries are introduced. At one point tribal authority is recognized and the chiefs step to the front to be recognized. All of them are wearing tennis shoes. TENNIS SHOES. Tribal chiefs in tennis shoes! It is a gesture that is not missed by the members of the American team as the tennis shoes are part of one of the incentive programs put in place by the Dzidalire Agency and the Malawi Project at the new site for the hospital and school. Tennis shoes were given to those who helped plant 17,000 trees over the two sites; the school and hospital locations. It was their way of recognizing, and expressing their appreciation for the assistance being given to their communities.