Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Comfort of Security - Carole's Post

When we are at home, we know that we are never really alone. We always have a guard on the property - one during the day and two at night.  We know that we can just step out of our house, yell, and someone will usually come very quickly.  We don't even have to step out of the house, because we have panic buttons in several of the rooms.  If we hit one, it will supposedly not only alert the guard, but also a security team who will arrive here on the double!  You might think those panic buttons would give us security, but the one in our bedroom is immediately inside the door in exactly the place where a light switch would normally be.  How many times I have walked in and my hand automatically went to turn on the light...fortunately I haven't hit it yet!

This is the entrance to our property on Kufa Road.  When we drive up, the guard usually hears us and opens the gate.  If he is not right there, we just tap the horn and he immediately comes.  I frequently get out of the car and open the doors myself by putting my hand through the cut-out peep hole and sliding the metal latch.  It is never locked during the day.  I can also let myself out through the pedestrian door when I head out for an early morning walk or want to walk to the market or the church.  I am always cautioned by Davie, our guard, not to use the shortcut to the church.  It goes through a maize field and this time of year when the plants (though brown) are so high, I am told that it is easy for robbers to hide, waiting for an unsuspecting soul! 

Here is Davie, on the inside of the gate.  We think Davie is the greatest.  Not only is he the most pleasant guard around, with the most amazing smile, 

but he is a top notch gardener.  See those boots - he always wears those just in case of snakes.  And sure enough, about a month ago, he knocked on the door and asked if we would like to see a (dead) snake!  It was just a baby, but a black mamba just the same.  Davie assured us that it was only the second time he had seen one in all the years he has worked here, protecting missionary couples.

After driving up the long driveway, we enter the house from the back (in other words, the front door is the back door).

Each outside door has two handles, making it tricky if my arms are full of groceries or church materials.
Each lock has a separate key. In the evening, we lock ourselves in with the same two keys.

Then we close the grill gate and lock it with two padlocks which require two more keys!

We have French doors that lead from our living room to a small porch outside.  We open those doors on a nice day because the view of the yard is lovely.  However, this is how we lock that door because the other locks don't work.  There is also a locked grill gate on the other side of the small porch.

This is another door, from the kitchen to the patio where we have our washer and dryer.  Same pattern...

These are our night guards.
Arias and Manyowe  
I'm not quite sure why he has sunglasses when he only works at night but it creates a certain image.

Though we know Davie, our day guard, quite well, we don't know the night guards very well.  However, I think they know us better than we know them.  At various times through the night, they will circle the house, talking, laughing, sometimes singing.  They are only a couple of feet away from the house. We have a window at the head of our bed so we hear everything crystal clear.  There is a changing of the guard at 7 AM but Malawians are early risers and there is much activity from the time the sun rises.

One night, soon after we had moved into our new home, I took out the trash.  I went through the kitchen door, across our backyard patio, opened the gate, and took a step or two in order to reach the outdoor trash can.  Just as I took off the lid, someone very close spoke to me, but I couldn't immediately see anyone!  I screamed and ran back in the gate, slamming the bolt lock, and ran inside the house, immediately locking the kitchen door.  Later, George told me that he had seen the guards sometimes sitting in the corner by the trash cans at night, catching a little nap. 

  1. This is a picture - obviously by day.  There is a three-legged chair now placed where the guard was sitting on the ground.

A few days later,   I mentioned it to Christopher who lives on the property and he laughed, saying that usually they sleep in the dog house!  Huh!  He pointed out the dog house close to the garbage cans. 

 I said "but aren't they the night guards who are supposed to stay awake all night?"   "Yesssss, but well, you know how the Ndirande branch was broken into two weeks ago.  That's because the night guards usually go to sleep!"

I guess saying "Those night guards are in the dog house!" can be interpreted in different ways. 

There is one photo that I really wanted when I thought about writing this blog.  When we drive around town, we sometimes see open trucks marked " RAPID RESPONSE TEAM" or "ALPHA UNIT" filled with men is swat team gear, but I never have my camera ready and we pass by quickly.
Yesterday, we went to the sister missionaries flat to meet with a plumber for repairs.  We got their keys and they instructed us how to open the many locks since they would be out working.  However, we had forgotten about the alarm system, so when George and I opened the door and walked in, I could hear a buzz, indicating we had 15 seconds to punch in the code or a security team would be alerted.  Sure enough, a VERY loud alarm went off.  I managed to reach the sisters and get the code so we could turn it off.  About 8 minutes later, a SWAT team, complete with shields, was rushing up the stairs to the second story flat.  I met them outside and assured them that we had just made a mistake. They seemed very disappointed until I told them I would love to take their photo!

So we were all happy! I didn't have to go searching for a unit because it was much easier to just summon them!