Malawi Thoughts 

I’ve been here a little over a month now. Already feels like it’s been a year! Sometimes my family is concerned that I’m bored when they leave for work and school. Little do they know it’s my downtime from the constant excitement! All their same old daily routines are still adventures for me. I’m entertained just sitting on our porch soo…maybe I need to get a life? 😀 I still sleep so deeply here too. At first I thought it was from the jet lag. I think the combination of sun, hearty meals, and the fact that I’m not watching tv the way I used to is actually making a huge difference.

More random thoughts!

First and foremost, my bro-n-law brought home a present the other day= a chameleon!!

My dreams have started to change. Being somewhere new seems to create new places in my head I suppose? Does anyone else who travels notice that?

The local kids are finally not as shy around me! So much so that 5 to 20 of them have shown up on multiple occasions to play last week! It took about a month for them to finally come play. Definitely shows the necessity of long visits in order to connect with a community.
   See if you can find the tiny hidden Joy fro!
Starting walks with Reecky’s mama and other family members. It’s a great way to see new places and continue to bond. Breaking away from that Bollywood soap opera is good for the soul!


Driving on the other side of the car and road!! Avoiding constant pedestrians, buses, bikes with huge cargo, and random dogs is becoming somewhat easier. Insanely rocky bumby dirt roads. U.S. Cars wouldn’t last a day!

Plumeria transplants I found at church are starting to grow new leaves!

Planted pineapple tops..we’ll see!

Found a perfect painting spot under the mango trees.  

Joy starting to imitate Mama Agnes’s great laugh.

Joy also thinks it’s a good idea to shove things up her nose. So far it’s been a lemon blossom and a bead. Thank goodness for toddler naps, tweezers, and paperclips.


My sister Tabs casually has malaria.
Trying to become an nsima pro…it’s a physically demanding meal! Will explain in my next post-dedicated to food!


Girls Tapua/Tabs/Zoe, yes this is one person…people really enjoy using multiple names in this family!(age 16), and Memory(age 19) moved into my room… Slumber party wohoo! 😉

Really wish I could speed up the Chichewa language learning process…I miss eeves dropping.

Dealing with a 2 year old who has a new hobby: hitting and pushing….awesome.


It’s funny, I thought that when I’d see other mzungu’s(whites) we might do a little head nod or quick tap dance in the street to acknowledge one another. Surprisingly, I’ve barely seen or have even exchanged glances with the few mzungus I’ve come across. I have yet to actually officially meet one, and I know I definitely have not seen any Americans. Europeans tend to have a classic, timeless style. What is that about? I’m jealous! Haha.

One thing that is important to remember and communicate is that just because life can be vastly different here, it doesn’t mean it needs to be perceived as a negative lifestyle that needs to be “fixed.”

Being different doesn’t make a culture better or worse. Yes, Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, when it comes to material wealth. The country has taken another hard hit with the aftermath of floods last year and a lack of rain this year. The strength of people and the sense of community remains rich in my eyes though, regardless of economic struggle. I’m starting to reevaluate what’s actually important and necessary in life, and how much I can do without. Not to say, “Oh look I’m such an expert on life here now.” I’m learning new things every day. Just reading back on my previous posts, I already see how much my views are shifting, and how careful I need to be about presenting a picture of my experiences. If people continue to think of Africa only as a place of aids, malaria, and poverty, what kind of disastrous misrepresentations will continue?

How will Africans be treated when they enter a new country? Will westerners be shocked to find that there’s Internet, big cities, and a diverse array of lifestyles here? Assuming that developing nations need rescuing is sometimes more harmful, even with the best intentions. Which I will explain next!

Since I came here, I’ve been brainstorming on what products/ items would sell in the U.S. and what simple things are needed here. (Malawi is landlocked so a lot of products are imported and makes many essentials more pricey.) The details are still in the works at the moment. What I’ve landed on so far is the fact that amazing, beautifully tailored clothes are in abundance in Malawi. While seamstresses face difficult times because of the used clothing market. (Believe it or not, all those clothes we give to Goodwill actually hurts the African economies!! Check it out! http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/12/business/second-hand-clothes-africa/ )

What Reecky and I had both unknowingly been thinking is that people in the U.S. would embrace the clothes that are made with love in warm heart of Africa(that’s Malawi!). The clothing industry might be able to expand with consumers ready and willing to purchase unique, functional works of art! The sarong-like “chitenge” alone is a piece that I use every day as a blanket, dress, skirt, or baby carrier. The baby wraps that are sold in the US are long and complicated to say the least. Once I saw how easy it was to throw Joy on my back with a chitenge, I wished I had used the one my family had sent from previous years!

As of right now, I’m still looking into the best options and specific pieces we will bring back. I’m also researching the best way to sponsor local children with the purchase of each piece. I’ve originally thought that a portion of the proceeds can go to the purchase of a locally made dress/trousers or school uniform. I’d love to do something similar to the Toms shoe brand and fulfill another need while supporting the economy. Although I want to be careful as to not duplicate the issues that have surfaced from the giving of well meaning westerners.

All this being said, I have a lot of work to do! I will post pictures soon as well.

Once I speak with some local seamstresses/tailors I will have estimates on prices/styles and can begin to take orders for those interested!

   


3 thoughts on “Malawi Thoughts 

  1. Did I tell you how much I love this blog? You are truly becoming a world citizen.That’s why it is so important to travel.
    Your words are so true…regarding how Africa is viewed. Different isn’t necessarily bad or inferior. Sure we have a lot to figure out but Africans also have a lot to offer. The sense of community is still very intact & I’m glad you’re enjoying it. Loneliness is hard to come by – Ha!
    I couldn’t believe it when I saw you cooking nsima.( Kenyans call it Sima. ) Would you believe it if I told you it’s the fastest meal to cook? Can’t wait for your food edition!! Say hi to everyone, esp Joy & Tabs 😉

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  2. I love love love reading this! It makes me so happy, and I love your writing style. Joy looks like a little African doll, I just love her! I got a kick out of her sticking things up her nose. What an awesome experience. I want to read more!!!

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  3. I have traveled, but not like you. I never appreciated my surroundings as much, or interpreted the culture as well. I feel as if I’ve missed so much in my own travels by just reading your blog. Keep it coming! Maybe you should write a book from your perspective of Africa and your family.
    You are such a real woman Katie…I mean that in the best possible way.
    I miss you and Joy, but I am so happy you are experiencing Africa with Joy. I love reliving your experiences in such a small way, but at the same time while it feels so BIG!!!

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