Blogs from Southern, Malawi, Africa

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Africa » Malawi » Southern June 24th 2013

It's hard to imagine, but this week actually marks the final days of my time in Malawi. The past nine months have been filled with some of the most memorable experiences of my life. Many, particularly the challenges I faced at work, will no doubt continue to inspire me for years to come. Others, such as Arthur's funeral a few weeks ago, will likely serve as a painful reminder of the hardships that so many people on this planet still face. Despite my admittedly bittersweet feelings about leaving Malawi, I have no doubt that I will look back on this period as one of immense personal and professional growth. Personally, this experience has provided me with a new 'home' and a community of friends that has shown me how easy it is to appreciate the little ... read more
Final weekend getaway...
Marie's Crisis :)

Africa » Malawi » Southern May 31st 2013

After my last entry, I feel encouraged to write a bit of a lighter post. While life in Malawi is admittedly taxing, there are definitely a number of fun and adventurous things to do here as well! Alas, when I first arrived in Malawi about eight months ago, I would often see boys and young men trying to sell something on a stick to motorists passing by. At first I thought it was some sort of dried fruit...then I thought it was an upside-down chicken. It was not until I asked one of my Malawian colleagues that I discovered that it was actually mice-on-a-stick, a very popular 'snack' food in the southern region of Malawi. After learning about this Malawian culinary tradition, I became intrigued as to how it began. As it turns out, mice-on-a-stick has ... read more
Mice-on-a-stick
Lily...
Mouse vendor

Africa » Malawi » Southern May 19th 2013

Last week marked probably the lowest part of my time thus far in Malawi. While on a weekend vacation to Blantyre for some iced coffee and pizza, I got a phone call from one of my supervisors informing me that my co-worker, Arthur Chidote, had passed away unexpectedly due to an HIV-related infection. As someone who had never lost a good friend before, the news came as quite a shock. While I had not seen Arthur in a few weeks, he and I were pretty close when I first arrived (he was actually the person who trained me back in September, as he had the same job that I have, but in a different hospital). He and I had also bonded over the fact that we were both the same age (28), and enjoyed occasional jaunts ... read more
Funeral Ceremony
Procession to Cemetery
Fatsani...

Africa » Malawi » Southern March 18th 2013

Alas, after a very relaxing and much-needed break back in San Francisco, I have returned to Malawi to begin the second half of my post with Partners In Health. My time in SF was mostly spent finishing the last quarter of my Global Health program, which actually provided me with the perfect opportunity to dig deeper into some of the issues that I faced during my first four months here. For my "Communicable Diseases" class, for instance, I focused on the interaction between HIV and PCP (pneumocystis pneumonia) - a common co-infection in HIV+ children; and, in my "Social and Economic Determinants of Health" course, I analyzed the effectiveness of PIH's "POSER" program, which provides economic support to some of the hospital's most at-risk patients. While I had some mixed feelings about returning to Malawi for ... read more
GHC Fellow Jeff...
Interior of Lisungwi hospital
Guardians

Africa » Malawi » Southern » Blantyre January 21st 2013

This was my second time on safari in South Luangwa but a completely new experience for Mum and Gabbie. At the camp we stayed at we saw crocodiles, hippos, mongoose, squirrels, monkeys, baboons and monitor lizards. In the actual park, we saw giraffes, elephants, hippos, baboons, monkeys, buffalo, genets, servals, lions, porcupine, zebras, many types of antelope and many types of birds. We had a wonderful and very funny guide called Billy, who was actually from Malawi. He asked us on our first drive if there was anything in particular we wanted to see. I said that last time I was here I saw everything except a zebra, so I'd like to see a zebra. And then, we saw hundreds of zebra. Around almost every corner was a zebra! After a while we just started to ... read more
South Luangwa
South Luangwa
South Luangwa

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Africa » Malawi » Southern » Blantyre November 27th 2012

It was a mission trip for my church that brought me to this beautiful country. I had hardly heard of Malawi before, didn't know the language Chichewa even existed. When our Air France jet liner landed in Johannesburg, the airport was so westernized I didn't consider Malawi could be any different. The moment I started to get nervous was when we boarded the tiny prop engine air plane and traveled two hours north east bumping and listing. I could literally hear the wind and my seat did not seem bolted down; my seat belt wouldn't fasten! Regardless of our journey into the country, I was more than impressed. Everyone at the airport was very friendly. I was hesitant to let anyone take my bag for fear of having to tip ten people; but they asked for ... read more
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Africa » Malawi » Southern November 14th 2012

Following the "flash mob" craze of 2009/2010, I always secretly dreamed of being part of a flash mob myself. There was one flash mob in particular that inspired me the most, which was organized by a volunteer in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake: http://youtu.be/1Bm2UBQQdX0. This past week, I was finally able to accomplish this life-goal, thanks to the help of a few other PIH volunteers/staff members and a whole hoard of Malawian children. With World AIDS Day only a few weeks away, a group of fellow PIH-ers and I decided to create a flash mob here in Neno as a 'challenge' to other global health groups working around the world. The song, we decided, would be Taio Cruz's "Dynamite." After a few days of choreographing and practicing, we finally decided to institute our flash mob during ... read more
Dance-off 'challenge' sign
...more dancing :)

Africa » Malawi » Southern November 5th 2012

After a brief and relaxing vacation at Cape Maclear, the time has finally come for me to begin my duties for Partners in Health. To be honest, I still feel like I am in a bit over-my-head. Despite having an 'academic' background in global health, I have never actually worked in a health facility before, and the challenges of working in an area as poor and remote as Lisungwi will likely be even more difficult than normal. Just to recap a little from my first blog entry in Malawi, Partners in Health was invited to the country in 2007 in order to help support a number of health facilities in the country's poorest district of Neno. Much of the reason behind the poverty here is (I think) a result of geography. Neno is the only district ... read more
Best. Skirt. Ever.
Awesome baobab tree in Lisungwi

Africa » Malawi » Southern » Cape Maclear November 1st 2012

I knew that life in rural Malawi would be difficult, but I don't think I fully understood the extent of the challenges and difficulties involved until I actually arrived and experienced it first-hand. Living in rural Malawi is definitely not for the faint of heart. Electricity is sporadic, running water is rare, and the insects are about 3-5 times larger than they are back in the states. In light of these lifestyle changes, three co-workers and I decided to take a weekend away from Neno to "live it up" in Malawi's most popular tourist destination, Cape Maclear. Cape Maclear is a rare oasis in Malawi, providing tourists with an impressive array of beach 'resorts,' bars, and tourist activities. The town is located on the southern tip of Lake Malawi (the third largest lake in Africa), a ... read more
Snorkeling with cichlids...
Tyler found a friend!
Malambe Camp...

Africa » Malawi » Southern October 11th 2012

While reading up on Malawi over the past few months, I repeatedly came across articles that said that Malawi was "the warm heart of Africa." And, quite literally, they were correct- Malawi is about as hot as a gorilla's anus. But despite the overwhelming heat (it is currently about 110 degrees here), the people in Malawi are indeed as friendly and hospitable as any you will find in Africa. I am always shocked at how happy and accommodating people are in places where the average person lives off of less than $1 a day. We, in the states, could definitely learn a lot from this... But I digress. About a month ago, I was fortunate enough to land a gig working as a Health Systems Coordinator (and videographer) for the global health organization, Partners in Health, ... read more
PIH doctors...
Boy walking through Neno




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