Winning the Raffle
We were sitting on the couch, staying in for the evening, when Greg got a text from his friend Patrick. “You won a prize in the raffle” he said. Then he texted us again, “you won again.” And again. It was fun knowing that we won something, we had decided not to go to the quiz night at the café my patient runs, but that also meant we wouldn’t figure out what we won for another day or so. We joked that we might have won a bar of soap, since that was the cheapest prize from my friend’s store, and we had seen her logo on the list of prizes.
We had seen fliers for the raffle for a week or two, and when a nice-looking volunteer at the farmer’s market asked if we wanted to buy tickets, we bought 5. She said that they hadn’t sold many, and we could tell that the prizes were good. So we talked about it and looked up the organization, Ndi Moyo – with life. It was a palliative care organization that one of our friends had started during the peak of the AIDS epidemic in Malawi, and now that HIV was more treatable, they helped people who were dying from HIV-related cancer and other end stage diseases. It sounded like a great organization, and we wanted them to raise some funds, and we liked our chances at the raffle, so we went back to my patient’s café a few days before the raffle and bought 55 more tickets. So we weren’t surprised that we won something, but hearing that we won four prizes was a bit of a surprise.
It turns out we won a voucher for one of our favorite Italian places, as well as overnights at three places we had never been. One of the places was a two-night stay on an island which I had always wanted to go to, complete with express boat to take us there. It was exciting imagining that we would have an excuse to get away. I always relax more when I can get away from home.
The following weekend, we met with the nice volunteer again at the Farmer’s Market. She was a doctor-in-training from the UK, who had been volunteering at Ndi Moyo. We asked a bit more about the program, and were really happy to hear how much the team addressed spiritual end-of-life concerns and provided hope as they offered their services. We were impressed. And we felt like we had won prizes worth far more than we paid for tickets, so we gave the organization a bit more as a donation.
We’re still sorting out when to take our trips. I was happy that the certificates need to be used before the end of the year, in the next 3 months, because then we won’t put it off. But there is a bit of a problem that fuel in Malawi has been unreliable in the past few months, so we haven’t wanted to travel further than half a tank of gas could get us, in case we couldn’t fill back up and would have trouble getting home.Fortunately, one of the hotels is in our city, so that will make for a relaxing staycation without even having to travel.Another place is a lodge about 4 hours away, that might take some creativity with the fuel situation.The overnight on the island, coincidentally the furthest point away, is having an issue with their boat, which isn’t currently operational. So we might be able to schedule that in November, or maybe they will let us extend our voucher.We should have known that travel wouldn’t be easy in Malawi, even when we were equipped with three vouchers for free overnight stays.But still, it’s fun to do some of our bucket-list travel items, and to have an excuse to plan something.