Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Landed in Lilongwe

It may come as a surprise to some but I got an opportunity, through Uniterra and WUSC, to help build media and communications capacities in two HIV/AIDS NGOs in southern Malawi. So it appears that another blog revival was in order – so check back here for the next 4 months if you’d like to see what’s up with me, or understand a bit more about this landlocked little gem.

After over 30 hours in transit, I arrived in the capital city of Lilongwe and immediately noticed a few things. It’s very dusty and it’s very hot. I guess there is a reason why their claim to fame is the “warm heart of Africa.” I guess another country swiped up “the heart of Africa” slogan first.  Lilongwe is not much of a capital city to be honest. Since the capital was moved there from Zomba, in the South, after independence in the early 1970’s, the city is still being formed and rather haphazardly. I have been told by numerous people that Blantyre, the commercial capital four hours south and my new home come Monday, is much more beautiful and well planned. I’ll let you know next week!

After a restful Monday, Dominique, another Canadian who will be working in Early Childhood Development in Blantyre as well, and I had day 1 of orientation at WUSC HQ today, which was immensely useful in clarifying what I am actually going to be doing here! I’ll be splitting my time between MANASO, an umbrella NGO coordinating over 400 community-based organizations working on AIDS, and Active Youth Initiative for Social Enhancement (AYISE), one of their member organizations working on youth and HIV/AIDS issues. Mostly I will be working on building a communications strategy, website development, training on ICTs and building successful relations with media and helping design communications materials. Not bad!

It’s funny that so much here reminds me of being back in Dar es Salaam, between finding stocks of my Milo and Nido favourites, buying a Kitenge (here called a chitenge), minibuses and being called a muzungu, I already feel like I am figuring things out.

I also found out there is Malawi mountain club that takes weekend trips to Mount Mulanje, which looks like a beautiful mountain chain in the south-east part of the country close to Mozambique. Definitely going to check it out! As well as the Lake of Stars festival!

Calling anywhere outside of Africa will cost me $2 per minute but incoming is free, so here is my number if you ever want to chat, I'd love that! +265 992 124 425

Warm hugs from this warm heart.

Toll bridge from the main produce market to the side selling clothes and other random stuff

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