First I want to remind my readers that the stories I tell are the experiences I personally will have here in Malawi. This does not mean that all of Africa is this way, nor does it mean that all of Malawi is this way. Take my experiences as the ones that I am having and a way to look into the cultural that I am experiencing. I cannot control how anyone else experiences this culture.
Now that we cleared that up Welcome to the warm heart of Africa. Warning this is a slightly longer blog, I have to set up a picture for where I now live.
Malawi is not similar to any other place that I have been to. It is very difficult for me to explain, but the best way to describe it is from my German friend, Tarik, “It is like you are watching a documentary on Africa and you are sucked into the television.” Everyone is walking on the roads. Many people are selling fruit and vegetables on the side of the road. There are many women walking with large baskets and water on their heads back to their homes. These are just a few sites that are very normal to see here in Malawi. While driving from the airport it was a five and a half hour drive on bumpy, uneven pathed roads, with no street lights once it got dark. Many of the villages that we passed had straw roofs, tin roofs with bricks holding the tin in place, dirt floors, and no windows. This is a very big culture shock to me.
During the car ride, I was mentally preparing to endure whatever house we pulled up to for the next few months. Before arriving I was so scared to get on the plane to come to Malawi. As I explained last year I do not like operating in fear. Thankfully my house has running water, electricity, cold clean drinking water, regular showers (only cold water, unless you want to heat up water then using it like a bucket shower), a normal toilet and lots of food. The unknown before coming put a lot of fear into my mind and heart. “God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7. Now that I am here and settled there was no reason to even be fearful. One thing I am trying to conquer is the spirit of fear, over the next few months that will be my personal project. Even If I was in a less than desirable situation, I can always adapt and make the best out of any situation.
Everyone is extremely friendly and want to talk to me because I am a foreigner. Many people call me a “Mzungu” which means “white person.” I usually reply, “Nakhana, Mzungu” which means “I am not white” and everyone than smiles and laughs. Simple tasks tend to become a long process due to the lack of conveniences. Today, we washed the dishes from last night and this morning. First, we took all the dishes outside and used the water spicket that was alongside the house. We then took one large tub and filled it with water and the dirty dishes, and then had a smaller tub filled with water. Since we could not find the rag we cut some net and used it to scrub the dishes. Although the process from here was similar to washing dishes in the states; the convince level of having water in the sink was taken away. Another example is cooking, my beautiful house mom must cook everything outside on two heated coals. (shown in the picture below).
I have only been in Malawi for a few days now, and I am enjoying every bit of it. Tomorrow I will start teaching in the school. I spoke to the headmaster, Mr. Kwakwa and explained I am studying at a University to become a special education teacher. He was so happy because none of the teachers at the school is qualified to teach students with special needs. Mr. Kwakwa told me he will give me all the students that are special and have me teach them. This includes the blind, none of my classes has prepared me to teach brail, but we shall see how school goes tomorrow.
Until next time,