Just the three of us…
So here we are, back in Lilongwe. It’s hard to believe that two weeks have come and gone so quickly, and the first part of the study tour has come to a close. It has been an amazing and colourful experience- sometimes fun, sometimes exciting, sometimes shocking, and yes, sometimes frustrating. This morning we said goodbye to our friend Sheila, who is off to Harare to visit her best friend from medical school, whom she has not seen in eight years. We wish her a joyous reunion and all the best in her future travels. Tony is flying to Tanzania in a couple of hours, where he will be working with a group of high school students from Winnipeg. His previous experience living in Malawi and zest for travel made him an indispensible guide. Tony and Sheila- you will be missed in Malawi. Their departure leaves Eric, Lauren and I on our own in Lilongwe for the next two weeks.
Today we are going to pick up supplies before we move into our house in the Falls area of the city. I would be lying if I said I was not scared, if not terrified. I’ve never lived on my own in Winnipeg, let alone Malawi. At the same time, I am excited for this next phase of the study tour, as Eric, Lauren and I face new challenges together and learn more about what CPAR is doing to help build healthy communities in Africa.
I once read that the “essence of development is not to maintain, but to create.” Over the course of the past two weeks, I have been able to see the ways in which CPAR is creating possibilities and opportunities in Malawi, despite the many difficulties and deficiencies that plague development work. We have seen the magic of development at work, transforming communities though access to safe drinking water and basic education. At the same time, we have seen pitfalls and dead ends when aid just doesn’t make sense- a sewing machine without fabric, thread or an instructor, a wheelchair on mountainous terrain.
Our time here has certainly been effective, both with learning about development work in Malawi and learning about ourselves. We’ve made new friends, and to some we have had to say goodbye too soon. I think that development is something that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. I feel so blessed to have had this opportunity, and feel as though time is going by too quickly. I knew going into the study tour that there would be an expiration date, but thought that it would be my saving grace rather than a nagging thought in the back of my mind. Tony and Sheila’s departure today is a reminder to squeeze as much experience as I can out of the rest of my time in Malawi- to open myself up to new people, new opportunities and new challenges.
I have no doubt that the remaining four weeks will bring a whole host of experiences and emotions. I have found cross-cultural adjustment to be a day-to-day thing, with many more good days than frustrating ones. This whole experience has been nourishing- Malawi is good for the soul.
Well, I am being summoned for lunch and must wrap this up quickly. Thanks again for following us on our journey. To all of our family and friends- we could not be here, physically or emotionally, without your support. Thanks for waiting too long for phone calls and emails as we search for times and means to get in touch.
Here’s to the next two weeks!