The Urban Malawi

Since yesterday and until tomorrow, I’m scoping out Blantyre – Malawi’s hub of capitalistic happenings. Whereas all the other JFs across the continent have started their placements, I’m still making my way down to Chikwawa.

From the little I’ve seen so far, Blantyre is definitely a happening place. It’s all people, fashion (weavessss), and cars everywhere.

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The downtown core isn’t a mine of skyscrapers like Chicago or Toronto but all the shiny buildings seem to proclaim a wealth that is not yet present in the surrounding rural districts.

It makes me wonder how much of a difference it makes in someone’s life if s/he grew up in Blantyre as opposed to someplace like Mangochi or Balaka. I have met people in districts who were originally from Blantyre so maybe it doesn’t make a huge difference in opportunities. As always, it’s probably part of a complex system of a number of different factors.

Today’s culture shock: The average life expectancy in Malawi is around 55. It has been quite rare to meet an elderly person.

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How to kill a chicken

On our first night in Mangochi, our coach Gabe took us to his friend Jackson’s house for dinner. What ensued following dinner was a hilarious showdown between Gabe and a chicken while the rest of us watched from the sidelines.

I witnessed the death of 5 chickens that night.

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When plucking the feathers, dip the dead chicken in scalding hot water.

One thing I’ve noticed since I’ve been here is how much more connected Malawians are with their food than most Canadians. I’ve eaten chicken a thousand times but that was the first time I’d ever seen a live chicken be killed. In contrast, almost all the meals I’ve had so far in this country have been locally sourced. Except the cheese.

It’s definitely a different feeling to know how something was probably raised and prepared. And if I’m not sure, I can always ask someone.

Not really sure if there is much value in this observation but I thought of it as food for thought.

Today’s culture shock: Ugly produce is definitely a thing here. In general, everything has more colour.

A Lilongwe from home…

All the WASH Cats + Brett (WASH Coordination) are heading out today to do job shadowing with some of the venture staff before being sent off to our respective placements.

Anita (U of C) and I are heading south of Lilongwe with Monique (Long Term Fellow) to meet Gabe (another LTF) in Mangochi. According to the Lonely Planet, Mangochi used to be an important hub for the slave trade. 

Lilongwe has been a good transition from Canada to working in the districts. It was nice to have almost all the comforts of home one last time before being bombarded with greater culture shock. Still feeling a bit homesick but it’ll be nice to move on to something new. 🙂

Today’s culture shock: They drive on the other side of the road here… (British Colonialism) 

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Plaza in Lilongwe
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Near a market in Lilongwe

Moni Malawi!

After a 12 hour flight from Toronto to Addis, our WASH (water and sanitation, hygiene) JF team said goodbye to the other JFs. About 5 hours later, we landed in Lilongwe (the capital) and met the EWB WASH team in Malawi.

Internet is really expensive so I haven’t had a chance to write an update until now.. O.O but I have lots of pictures to share. 🙂

Much has happened during these four days in Lilongwe. Mostly, lots of culture shock and learning. Between the fun and the homesickness, it’s hard to find alone time to process what everything actually means… But more about that later. 🙂

Today’s culture shock: the dirt is red.

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Ethiopian Airlines was the best 10+ hours flight I've had. Quinn and Max were my flight buddies and then we parted ways in Addis.

Bon voyage!!

This is just a short status update since I’m at the airport and won’t have internet for the first little while after I land.

It’s exciting, scary, and my malaria pills make me feel sick but I’m ready. 🙂

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Feeling half as wise and twice as hungry

4 days ago I started feeling an ache in my mouth. So I went to the dentist on Friday morning and received some unfortunate news. I essentially had 3 options: take a bunch of painkillers with me for the duration of my trip, risk an overseas operation, or just get my wisdom teeth out that day. That day, I chose to pull 2 of my wisdom teeth. It’s been a full 1 day since.

Surprisingly, it’s been alright so far. And even if it isn’t, I’m leaving the country soon for the greatest adventure ever. In other words, about the numbness in my jaw… (Zero f***s given).