Today is my last full day in Malawi; I’m leaving tomorrow afternoon. I can’t believe that 4 months have gone by so quickly! I’ve had a very eventful last week though. On Monday I went to live in a remote village that’s about 2 hours away from the Boma. I stayed in a small brick house with a thatched roof with a 17 year old girl. The village was a big change for me because there was no electricity, no private tap, I slept on the floor, and the latrine was a little bit sketchy (and was inhabited by giant mutant grasshoppers at night).
I enjoyed living in the village though; my Chichewa definitely improved and I had the opportunity to get out to the farm to plant maize and groundnut. I had a particularly eventful night when I woke up because rain was dripping down on me through the thatched roof. So I was resituating myself when I looked right and saw this huge cockroach right outside my mosquito net. So I was like, “hmm…I think I’m going to kill that”, so I turned left to look for my shoe and found myself staring at a snake as it crawled up my wall. So my priorities changed a little bit and I woke up my roommate and we killed the snake by whacking it to death with a piece of wood!
Unfortunately it rained the entire time I was in the village and I learned a very valuable lesson; Never go to a remote village during rainy season when you are on a timeline (needing to get back to Lilongwe for my flight). A truck was supposed to come and pick me up on Thursday, but it was really delayed because of the rain and didn’t get to the village until 8:30 that night. I wanted to stay in the village and go back in the morning because the roads were really slippery, but the guys who came to pick me up really wanted to get back, so we decided to brave the hilly, slippery, Thyolo roads. Bad Idea.
Trying to get back to the Boma was pretty much the biggest nightmare of my life. I can kind of laugh about it now, but at the time it was awful. Lets just say my car ride back to the Boma involved lots of night time slippery driving, running out of fuel in the middle of no where, accidentally driving into a ditch, and having the starter motor give out while we were trying to get out of the ditch. So yeah, around 1:00 that night we gave up on getting home and I slept in the back of the truck in the middle seat between two guys. It was so uncomfortable. In the morning we had to hire some villagers to help push us out of the ditch and to come with us to the Boma so that they could get out of the truck every time we had to go up a hill and help push the truck up. So we basically walked the truck halfway back to the Boma. 70 kilometers and 14 hours later I made it home.
I spent the rest of the day saying goodbye to everyone and spending time with my family. I was quite sad to say goodbye to my family. Over the last 2 months I really feel like I’ve become a part of their household and my 3 sisters have become an inspiration to me. They motivate me to continue working hard in development so that they can maybe grow up to live a better life. One where they will finish school and grow up to be whatever they desire. My family gave me a Chichewa name on my last day there and told me that I was always welcome back in their family. My Chichewa name is Chimwemwe Nzengo; Chimwemwe means Joy.
I arrived in Lilongwe on Saturday and I’ve been spending the last few days clueing up some stuff. Yesterday I went and visited the Village of Hope. When I was 14 I helped to fund the building of a house for orphans that would be built as one of many houses in a village in Malawi. The Village of Hope was one of my first experiences with development and it was what got me really interested in working in Malawi. It was nice to end my trip by the going to the village that inspired me in the first place. I got to see the house that was built in 2004 and meet the children that live there. I was also surprised to find out that all of the houses (12) that are currently in the village have all been funded by Newfoundlanders! The houses were all named after Newfoundland communities like Lewisporte, Grand Falls, Gander, Port aux Grave, etc, and they flew the Canadian flag in the middle of the Village! It was a special experience for me.
And so here ends my Malawian adventure. I wish I could put into words what this experience has meant to me. I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to live with Malawians and to be able to learn, and start to understand, their culture. I’m happy about what I accomplished here, and my co-workers were very thankful for all I did. I feel though that the people here have taught me so much more, and have done so much more for me than I could ever do for them. I’m very sad to leave but I am excited to come home and continue to share my experiences. Thank you to everyone who has followed along with my blog over the last 4 months and to everyone who has offered me support throughout the last year. I really appreciate all the support and prayers I’ve received over the last few months and I’m looking forward to seeing you all again soon.
Love, love, love