This morning we head in different directions; we say goodbye to Claire as she heads home and Alex and Abbey go back to Bwaila to sweet talk its management into letting them take photos there, Karen and I to meet the Water Employees Trade Union.
The union recently fought off the privatisation of the country's water. However they fear that privatisation may be being introduced piecemeal and feel under pressure top suggest a viable alternative to the government...
We are shocked to learn that as water must still be paid for, in some villages it is getting cut off when the bills are not paid. Often someone, for example.the village chief who runs such local affairs, has pocketed the cash, leading untreated streams and rivers to be used instead.
After a quick meeting with the startlingly young looking treasurer of the Malawian Congress of Trade Unions (who sweetly has a huge Valentines card from his fianc»e pinned on his office wall) Karen meets up with Abbey back at Bwaila to take more photos while I chat to Patrick in the car.
I have only recently found out that he struggles to understand my accent a lot of the time, but he is still fun to talk to..
Our last appointment of the day is supposed to be with a senior Ministry of Health civil servant who fails to actually be in their office. We do meet with Dr Ann Phoya, a former health ministry director of nursing.
Dr Phoya initially seems sympathetic to the plight of nurses; saying she understands how difficult life must be for nurses on their low salaries. She says the last time she was in the UK she was invited to a reception and there were so many Malawians there she thought she was home..She is.sad about the number of health workers who have left for the UK.
But she is unsympathetic to the plight of nurses stuck working in remote rural areas for years at a time, and says she does not believe that they could drive nurses out; and that many who have left the country are actually too old to work in Malawi, as it has a retirement age of 55..........
I had been wondering how a Ministry of Health official in Malawi would compare to one back at Richmond House. Their manner and attitude towards the press, I have found, are surprisingly similar...........
It is a deflating end to the week and calls for large Malawian gin and tonics (actually ginger ale and the gin does not make you cry) back at the hotel.