My last week at Queens in Blantyre was full of mixed emotions. I was so excited at at long last being able to get to my placement but also very sad at having to part with some really good friends (get togethers being planned as I type).
This last week found me dotted all around the hospital, I was in the ICU (intensive care), Family Planning and HIV/Aids clinic. I have included some photos, I though the supply of strawberry flavoured condoms was particularly thoughtful of the Malawian government!
Anyway, here I am in Fatima at Trinity college. The journey down here was long and a real adventure. Halfway through the journey the road disappears!! It is a track that Jeremy Clarkson would be proud to test one of his 4×4’s on. I now feel I have a rough idea what being famous is like, everywhere I go people are smiling and waving they are so excited to see a white person.
I arrived with Laura (my housemate) at about 3 pm. the house is lovely, amongst other things we have a fridge a cooker and a small backyard. It was a great feeling to finally be able to unpack. However, I had rather an unexpected reaction when I came across some of the ‘bits and pieces’ I had packed from the boys – tears, and lots of them.
The next morning it was off to the college to meet everyone and be shown around. At about 10 am I was asked to go out with the students to help with health assessments at a local school. This was to be a week long activity which I was included in and found great fun. The students firstly assess the school premises and then the children. At the end of the week the students, parents and teachers gather for feedback. It was all very impressive.
Evenings seem to pass very quickly, by the time we have had an evening meal it is time to go to bed (normal times don’t apply here, you listen to your body and bed time seems to be between 8 -9pm!!) I was warned about the heat in Fatima but I don’t think anything can prepare you for the temperature or the humidity. I sweat so much it is difficult to keep up the hydration, I feel like I am constantly drinking (water that is). This obviously adds to the exhaustion but even just a week in I am coping much better. I must have spent 80% of the first few days sleeping! The electricity has gone off most evenings this week and we or rather Laura has ended up cooking on our little stove in the backyard. This all seems great fun at the moment and only adds to the adventure (I don’t think Laura feels quite the same, 6 months of it appears to have taken its toll).
I had the weekend here on my own, Laura having gone to a party in Blantyre. The village is so friendly I didn’t have a moment to feel lonely. Saturday night was film night with the students. followed by Sunday morning church (the whole village goes so it seems the right thing to do) in the afternoon the children came round and we all sat and watched an animated disney movie.
I start formal teaching tomorrow, this is obviously going to give me a number of challenges, not least will be the language. Gauging how much has been understood can be difficult as the student often just smile and nod. I think gently does it…..