October 2015 – So what did I learn?

It’s not all doom and gloom in Malawi – just because it’s different doesn’t make it wrong.

I overheard a medical student say that they should just drop in a ready-made hospital complete with equipment and that would solve everything – I couldn’t disagree more.   The people I met have shown great ingenuity and inventiveness, coming up with pragmatic solutions that work in very trying circumstances using simple local resources.   Like all of us, they love people to take an interest and enjoying being praised for what they can do.   It’s up to us to encourage and support them to achieve more to meet their needs, not give them what we feel is best.

Malawi is known as ‘the warm heart of Africa’ and it deserves its reputation.

The people we met were endlessly kind and caring, whether we were lost in the maze of the hospital or on a dusty track in the middle of nowhere, they took time to help us and show us the way.   Before any business is conducted, the conversation starts with ‘Muli Bwanji’ – how are you?

They’ve a great sense of fun and humour –

The Malaria Joke courtesy of Miriam Simbota (tutor at Kamuzu College of Nursing)

A mother mosquito sends her child out into the world, after many months the child returns.   ‘How did you get on?’ asks the mother.    ‘It was great, I’m so popular’ says the child ‘everywhere I went the people clapped me!’

Priscilla Matinga (SI Blantyre) told me that in certain parts of Malawi, mice are considered a delicacy and sold on kebab sticks by the side of the road.    (It’s true; we saw them when driving back from Lake Malawi)   When I expressed doubts about this, her reply was that if it was given a French name then people would be happy to eat it – escargots for instance!

I read an article extolling the merits of potholes as a safety measure that would slow traffic down and hence save lives.   Given the dire state of the roads where I live, I’ll bear that positive attitude in mind.

There’s an old Malawi saying ‘If a thing is worth doing – it’s worth doing slowly’.   Given some of the issues they face, it saves getting frustrated!

So, my Sister Soroptimists, you don’t have to embark on a Madventure to make a difference.   I’m sure you’re already doing amazing things in your Clubs and I look forward to meeting you at Conference.   I’ll be the one with a rucksack instead of a handbag – oh, and Dave – he says it’s the only way he gets to see me these days!

And yes, I would go back 🙂

Dave enjoying the company of some very happy mums in the lovely new Kangaroo ward

Dave enjoying the company of some very happy mums in the lovely new Kangaroo ward

They knew I was coming!   This is the nickname my daughters have for me!

They knew I was coming! This is the nickname my daughters have for me!