On Monday morning around 11:00am my feet touched the tarmac and I was officially in Malawi. After going through health inspections and passport checkpoints I waited at the conveyer belt for two bags of luggage. Kudos AirCanada you didn’t screw it up this time, all 95 lbs of medication, toiletries and clothing arrived intact!
If you haven’t traveled to Africa, you should probably know that while the airports are significantly smaller; they are not easier to navigate. There are no electronic signs, no one is overly helpful and everything is overpriced.
As I was wandering around for half an hour turning down taxis, Kelly, the other intern who has been in the country for a week already, found me and introduced me to Jovitta, the executive assistant at Malawi Union of Savings and Credit Cooperatives (MUSCCO). We got in MUSCCO’s car (on the ‘wrong side’) and we were off.
Jovitta, a very smiley and social woman spent most of our 40 minute drive running pedestrians off the road, swerving around the center line, texting and taking phone calls while nearly stalling the car when we slowed to a crawl in traffic.
Before I knew it we were pulling into a gated compound and Kelly was welcoming me to our new home. A modest but very cute furnished flat complete with a mango tree in the front yard.
I had time to change my clothes and wash my face and then we went to the MUSCCO office. I was briefly introduced to the staff then Kelly took me out to exchange some currency, buy a phone and get some lunch.
After lunch (chicken wrap in chapati with salad) we returned to the office like any other work day and I got started right away.
Since arriving I have disregarded jet-lag and been working hard to become informed of MUSCCOs programs and successes and today I officially started my first project. My eyes start to get very heavy and my head starts to bob around 3:00pm every day but I’m chugging along and we usually leave the office around 5:00pm.
Next week we’re planning a visit to the field to help SACCO managers develop marketing plans for 2014, something that is new for almost all of them.
I haven’t finished settling in yet but I’m happy to be here. While we still need to get our official visas, set up internet and stock our fridge we are pretty comfortable. I can’t thank Kelly enough for her legwork in finding us a place to live.
Unfortunately I haven’t had a lot of opportunity to take pictures yet because it gets dark so early here, like 6:00pm, usually by 8:30pm I feel like it’s getting late and I should go to bed and then Kelly and I start talking about it and don’t stop talking until 11:30… midnight… 1:00 haha.
Okay if you’re still reading this…
I’m sure you’ve got other things to get back to
so I will wrap it up…
I’m hoping to make some plans and maybe meet some people, or at least find some internet to connect with friends at home, this weekend.
Kelly and I are already dreaming of safaris, Lake Malawi and Zanzibar but right now we are interns with limited cash-flow who haven’t quite figured out the cost of living yet.
Stay tuned for more, feel free to leave me some love, and I’ll talk to you again soon!