Moving Forward …already half way through my time in Malawi!

It’s Wednesday — half way through the second week….half way through my time in Malawi!  The time is flying.

Yesterday afternoon, I managed to do a bit of reading and note taking for my work at COWLHA. I didn’t have a lot of energy and still was not interested in eating very much.

Patricia came by my room when she returned from her work at YECE and we caught up on the events of the day. Her experience continues to be similar to mine….bits of forward progress with a strong emphasis on ‘going with the flow’!!

I settled into bed early (6:00 ish) – listing to the Malawi ‘playlist’ that Justin put together for my travels. A knock came on the door and it was Ben, Annie and Hershey. They are students from the University of New Brunswick who are part of a group doing volunteer work in Malawi. Annie and Ben are also staying in the County Garden Lodge; they work with school children (many of whom are orphans) in a village on the edge of Lilongwe. They have been here since the beginning of June. Hershey just arrived this week and will be joining other UNB students in Mzuzu, about a 4-8 hour bus trip north of Lilongwe. (Yes…4 to 8 hours, the range is wide because the travel is unpredictable!)

Annie, Ben and Hershey had heard that I was sick and came to check on me. When they didn’t see me at breakfast in the morning, they had asked after me. I was very appreciative of their concern and kindness in dropping by. We chatted about the events of the day and I shared the story of my ‘trip to the clinic’! They were helpful in giving advice on using the phone system in Malawi (there are a few tricks, it turns out.) This will allow Patricia and me to make better use of the phone WUSC has loaned to us.

I didn’t sleep particularly well, but I got up and showered this morning, had a bit of breakfast (“Coffey”, toast and a banana), and got myself ready for the day. Fortunately, YECE came to pick up Patricia for work and I was able to get a lift to Old Town by car….allowing me a bit of respite from the minibus! I’m definitely feeling better than Monday but still not quite myself.

I arrived in Old Town by 8:00 a.m. and, before walking to COWLHA, I went to an internet café to check my emails.

I arrived at the COWLHA office shortly after 8:30 a.m. and was greeted warmly by Victoria. Daphne arrived soon afterward. I have suggested that today, Daphne and I work together reviewing COWLHA’s 2007 advocacy plan. I want her to brief me on the status of each of the advocacy objectives (several of which I already know are dated), the role and activities of COWLHA with regard to each to-date, the “lessons learned” and whether they are still relevant given the advocacy directions set out in COWLHA’s recently completed strategic plan.

This will have to wait until later in the day, however, as Daphne has been called on short notice to a meeting with the local office of the UNFB. They want to review the budget proposal Daphne has included in a proposal submitted by COWLHA last week. Daphne departed along with Victoria (so she can run pressing errands for COWLHA while Daphne is in the meeting.)

While I was alone at the COWLHA office, Stella dropped in to leave an invitation for COWLHA members to attend a candle-light church service on Sunday to commemorate those whose lives have been lost to AIDS. She told me a bit of her story. She used to be a teacher with Daphne. She left teaching and joined a local church (Presbyterian, I believe) and was eventually hired to co-ordinate the church’s AIDS related programs. She is assisted by a committee of people from the church that includes COWLHA members. I quite enjoyed my brief time with Stella. As she left she said to me, “I have a story that I could share about my life. Perhaps we will have an opportunity another time.” I hope so.

Wisdom also popped in to pick up an envelope that Victoria had left for him. He was on his way to a community about 200 km outside of Lilongwe to do some work with an organization there. He seems to be doing consulting work (in advocacy??) while on his vacation from his post at the rubber plantation.

My appetite remained submerged. I ate the only thing that appealed to me: a juicy mandarin orange. As I sat in the COWLHA office I could hear the prayers being called from the mosque across the river, near the Old Town market.

The afternoon has proven to be productive. I finally had a great chance to sit and work through various pieces of information with Daphne. We shared stories and I generally had a good feeling that our relationship is advancing.

I am feeling better….still not myself. On my way home on I picked up some crackers and some almonds ….something to work into my system to begin to return it to normal. The mini bus ride was relatively uneventful today….just a stop for gas along the way.

I am finishing this post off around 4:40 p.m. sitting in the lobby of the Capital Hotel. I look forward to an early bedtime tonight. Before that, however, I hope to go over to Ben’s and Annie’s room to see some of their photos of the village where they are working.

I will post photos eventually…..including one of the mini-buses, as Lauren has requested.

Missing everyone….but feeling good and comfortable here despite my health adventures.   (For those so inclined….please don’t worry!!! )



  1. Mew says:

    take it easy and don’t do too much. Even if you feel better it would be wise to still treat yourself as if you are sick

  2. Mary Childs says:

    Vicki: so sorry to hear you are under the weather….the best laid plans of mice and men and all that. I think it is always more challenging when you are away from home. Hope you feel better soon as I know you would find the illness frustrating. I could suggest “acceptance” but when people suggest that to me, I sometimes like to throw my shoe at them…M:)