I knew this day would come, but I still wasn't prepared. How could you possibly be?
Richard the awesome!
~ a note from Julie Seath, founder of love a village mission.
From the moment I first met Richard in 2014, he counted me his friend. He welcomed me with a wide, missing-teeth grin, outstretched arms and an ever loving heart. Each day we spent together, he was there for me and with me. He took care of me like I was family.
I will dearly miss this gentle man.
Richard was a man of high integrity, humility, and was totally genuine. He did his job in Luhomero with compassion and love for his fellow Malawians. And he did it with excellence! He went above and beyond what was expected of his role as Health Services Officer to the under fives of the community.
He came along side me before I even started Love a Village and was there with me for every water filter training, and every activity we did. He took meticulous notes and logs of the hundreds who were beneficiaries. He was gracious to this old white woman who wanted to do things her way, and without me even asking if I was being culturally appropriate. He LOVED helping in everything we did. It gave him further purpose and ways which he could use his gifts and talents. He told me how much he loved having guests from Canada come and visit him. Each time I left he would tell me he would make his way to Canada on foot, via the shortcut - over the mountain and through the forest. To trust him - he knew the way.
His mind was very very bright. An incredibly gifted man. With no training, he figured out the ins and outs of currents, batteries, switches, wires and all that's required to create an electrical panel to light his home with loose wires, finicky switches, and hanging bulbs (see photos below). He built his own solar panel box with trees, lumber, bicycle chain, wire, nails and lock (see photos below). He, like all other Malawians was extremely resourceful. He used his God given gifts to help others with wiring their homes with bulbs, as a small side job. He walked miles on end month after month to ensure he had accurate data for his job with the Health Department. He took his job very seriously, and took life lightheartedly. He used humour in every day conversations, as well as during training sessions and meetings. He spoke about himself in third person, "Richard told his boss when they tried to repost him, that no, Richard is staying in Luhomero. Where Julie goes, Richard will follow." lol
He took his job very seriously, and took life lightheartedly.
And now he's gone. He will leave a huge gap in the community. There will be none other like Richard who will care for the villagers the way he did. Life is so brief. And extending it isn't easy when you're ill in Malawi and have no money and a third world health care system. Without resources, hospitals do minimal tests and simply offer "symptom management". Antibiotics are given in hopes that people will get better, and if not, well, it means there's not an infection. There's no palliative care. You're sent home when you show signs of alertness and can walk. You're put on life support, and taken off if you open your eyes. Families aren't prepared for their loved one dying, the way we are here. People cling to hope that their family members and friends will walk home and be well soon. And if they don't, if they die, then it is a part of life.
There's no palliative care. You're sent home when you show signs of alertness and can walk. You're put on life support, and taken off if you open your eyes.
His wife and children are left with very little. His wife and youngest daughters will need need to leave the home they are using for Richard's job. They'll be sent back to either her home village, or his. They won't have a home and will need to start from scratch. People, even when they have jobs, don't earn enough to save any money. They put everything into trying to get their children educations, so that they won't suffer a lift of extreme poverty. I don't know yet what will happen to Richard's family. Death brings even more instability for a family. It throws them into a state of chaos, and back into a place of insecurity. Especially as a widow.
Death brings even more instability for a family. It throws them into a state of chaos, and back into a place of insecurity. Especially as a widow.
I've learned so much through the short, life stealing illness of my Malawian friend. He is my first Malawian friend to pass away. And I'm heartbroken. I knew that someone I loved in Malawi would die someday. But I wasn't prepared for it. How can you be? And to be so far away is so hard. I'm a bedside kind of girl, and I want to be there. Loving comes with losing, I know that. And I'm SO glad I was able to love Richard, and have him love me. Even more so, I'm thrilled to know that I will see his beautiful face again one day in heaven. He's rejoicing with the angels and with his Saviour. I know without a doubt that Jesus welcomed him and said, "Well done my good and faithful servant." Richard, you lived life well. You served Him incredibly. He's proud of your work and all you did. So am I.
Love you Richard. I will miss you SO much. Can't wait to see you again one day.
Richard's very FIRST swim EVER! What a joy to be able to give someone such a treat!
Always a thumbs up from Richard!
THIS MAN! A natural at inventions. Creative and resourceful.
Each year we could see the changes in the maps Richard drew, learning his topography by walking the 120 square kilometres. New projects would be added each time they occurred. Our filters, rope pumps, bees, grain banks, mushrooms, chickens ... "everything Love a Village" was on that map! It's an example of the detail and care Richard took in his job. And how he went above and beyond his job to work with Love a Village. Other communities don't have this kind of map. Richard is one of a kind. He knew everyone and every square inch of Luhomero. He will be greatly missed.
~ In case you missed our last newsletter, you can read it here ~
(there's an update with video about Leah too.)