Saturday in Lilongwe

This will be a quick post in the hope I can add something a bit more detailed later today.

I have easily survived my first week in Malawi.  The assignment with COWLHA (I understand they actually call themselves the Coalition of Women Living with HIV and AIDS…COWLHA, not COWLA….) is ….well, progressing.  I think we can accomplish our goals before I leave but it may be a stretch.  I take the mini bus to and from work most days…..always a bit of an adventure.  It is a very affordable and (relatively) quick form of transit.  Each way costs about 80 kwatcha….roughly 75 cents.

My office is located in the middle of a campus of buildings for the Ministry of Agriculture….so not unlike life at U of G with OMAFRA right beside us!!  Although, I’ve never seen lizards scampering around work, like I do now!

Everyone is very friendly.  The food is pretty much like at home ….with more emphasis on rice or Nsima (Malawian corn dish) than on meat and other vegegtables.

Today, my WUSC/Leave for Change companion — Patricia Lee from Deloitte in Toronto — and I have been to the market (wild!!!) and then walked around Old Town Lilongwe.

Here’s a picture taken at the market.

Lilongwe Old Town market

This is a photo taken near the Lilongwe market in Old Town.

Old Town Lilongwe near the market

Can you see the man on the bicycle with the chickens loaded on the back? This photo was taken by the traffic circle in Old Town Lilongwe that is very close to the COWLHA office. I have to cross over this traffic circle each day on the way to and from work. The traffic is a bit crazy (and they drive on the left side of the road…!!) so I usually tag in behind local Malawians to be sure I get across the road ‘intact’!!

Old Town Lilongwe at the Traffic Circle near COWLHA.  Do you see the man with the chickens hanging from the back of his bike?

We have booked accommodation to go to Senga Bay next weekend (on Lake Malawi, near Selima).  This will be a nice reward for what we hope will be a productive week with our partner organizations.  (Patricia is giving financial advice to the organization called Youth Empowerment and Civic Education)

Last night we went out for a very nice dinner at the Kubuko Hotel in Old Town.  Tonight, we plan to have dinner at “Mamma Mia’s” ….a recommended location…!!! [It was very nice! A bit of Italy in the midst of Lilongwe. It was located in the Muslim section of Old Town.]

It gets pitch dark here by 6 pm each day.  One does not walk around after dark (not even Malawians), so you pretty much have to take a taxi to any desired location….and you want to have a good idea of where you are going.  There are virtually no street lights, even in the heart of the city….so when it’s dark here….IT IS DARK!!  An added dimension is the occasional power outages …which may last a few minutes or several hours.    At night I can hear the hyenas howling from the nearby nature sanctuary.  The sky is full of stars…  quite a different experience for city living.

I’ll wrap up for now.  We are going to go across the street to buy a few groceries to keep in our rooms and to use for lunches during the week.  Then we’ll hop on a mini bus back to our lodging and clean up.  I think we’ll then go to the nearby hotel where there is wireless internet and I’ll try to post some more details about the week….and if the internet isn’t hopelessly slow (…which it can be at times….) I’ll try and post some photos.

Thinking of family and friends at home often….especially when I see or hear things that I think might amuse or interest one or another of you!  Thinking especially of Justin….who is heading into exams.  (I know you will do well, buddy!  Lots of love.)


  1. Mark says:

    Vicki, I am sure you have lizards at U of G. They are just the upright two legged tail-less genus. Just ask a young co-ed to point them out.!!! Glad to hear things are good. We are all drooling for the updates and can’t wait to get the full story when you are back on this side of the pond.
    Hugs from all.

  2. Kate says:

    Sounds so incredible, Vicki! And your comment about OMAFRA made me laugh!

    All is well here and it sounds like you have the Guelph weather – apparently Guelph has swapped with the Arctic!

    Take care and be careful!