And I couldn’t be happier - unless all of you were here too. I know this placement will be full of ups and downs, so why not enjoy the ups while you’re in that space. We arrived in Blantyre, about 4.5 hours south of Lilongwe on Monday afternoon, and first off checked out two potential places to rent. Unfortunately, one looked like a work-in-progress and we would have had to find another mattress AND stock the kitchen cupboards. The second was very nice, but was only available until January, and so it wasn’t ideal for both Dominique and I since she stays on for 6 months after I leave. It’s not easy finding a place in new city when you don’t know anyone!
Luckily, after contacting an expat living here, I got a call from a British PhD student who had found a place but needed two roommates. We scooped her up from Med school, introduced ourselves in the car, and an hour later, we were roommates! The place is in a neighbourhood called Sunnyside, and within walking distance to MANASO, where I will be working about half the time. It has a huge living room area; and we each have our own bedroom with a big closet and carpet, plus a washing machine! Dominique and I will move in Thursday night after our first day of work so that we can leave straight away on Friday after work to Nkopola, where the Lake of Stars festival is taking place!
So that’s the big news to share, and my first impressions of Blantyre are good. It seems a bit cooler here than in Lilongwe and the city is bordered by red-brown, tree-topped hills all around. And with the beautiful purple Jacaranda trees everywhere, the city seems very alive and colourful.
I’ll be starting at MANASO’s partner organization, AYISE – Active Youth Initiative for Social Enhancement, on Thursday. How these placements work is we get matched up with a counterpart, to whom we are supposed to work with to ensure our work continues after we leave and the organization is better equipped to work towards its goals. At AYISE, my counterpart is Kondwani or as the Executive Director introduced him as: the “King of Blantyre.” Being in IT, he knows a lot about website management, so I should be able to help him with the content and he can help me with the technical part. My counterpart at MANASO is Ismael, whom I will meet on Monday (hopefully!)
I haven’t taken many photos here yet but I’m sure the next post will have many J