In the beginning…..

6 08 2008

I have put this off and put it off but I am going to have to start writing up some of my activities from my experience.  I am just going to start at the beginning and write up bits at a time – hopefully I will finish before the holidays finish!

As was stated in my blog earlier I pretty much slept the whole way there which is very unusual for me anywhere, never mind on a plane but end-of-term-itis it certainly was and it is just as well as I was rather worried when I got on the Ethiopian Airways plane and realised there were no individual t.v’s; they are usually what gets me through a flight!  Not that I know what I was expecting but I was also a bit disapointed that the shopping in Addis Ababa airport was nothing like J’burg where I really went to town last year on buying books and jewellery.  None of us had also realised how long it would take to do anything with 16 of us and I had no chance to buy books in Heathrow as we ended up with not much time to transfer.  That was worrying as I usually read a lot and I had not brought many with the express intention of buying books at Heathrow to save on weight in Glasgow.  There was a lot of book swapping going on later on in July!

We were met by several of the LINK staff in Lilongwe on the Saturday and taken into the capital for lunch and to buy some supplies in the supermarket.  We were advised we might want to buy some treats to keep for ourselves in our village but I was utterly determined I was not going to put on weight while away and only bought a packet of low fat crackers as a treat.  It was also suggested though that as we would probably be given dry bread we might want a spread of some sort.  So oddly enough and as a huge treat for me, I found and bought in a Malawian supermarket MARMITE! 

I only ate the crackers latterly in the village so that I did not have to take them back to Dedza and only got out the marmite (in secret) on my second last day in the village when I had had enough of dry bread (most of the time I felt it was fine plain).

We then transferred to Dedza where we would have 2 nights at Panjira Lodge which was fine but very basic.  We had a welcome meeting, dinner and then were all in bed very early!  Robert and I ran on Sunday morning but that is all in my running blog.

We were allowed some time on the Sunday morning to go and visit the town and were taken round by one of the LINK staff.  We visited the court (our hotel was also right beside the prison), police station, education office, stadium and market.  We all bought chitenji’s in the market which are pieces of material that women use over their clothes most of the time.  I never got the hang of tucking mine in correctly despite numerous attempts by my host mother to show me so ended up tying it all the time!

The courthouse in Dedza

The courthouse in Dedza

Our work started that afternoon with orientation and meetings.  This amusingly included a demonstration of how to use a pit latrine by Ed the programme manager!  I wish I had thought to film it!

I was getting pretty worried about going out to the village by this stage as I was panicking that I would not be able to cope with pit latrines, the family possibly not speaking english, rats and also I was really worried I would get upset a lot with the standard of living for the children in the village.  I really did wonder how I had possibly thought I could do this!

On Monday morning (30th June) we had a welcome ceremony at the hotel and then after lunch we were being transferred to our villages.  There were various important people there that gave speeches but it was amusing (and bemusing) to see several people there to listen read the newspapers or send messages on their phones or even talk on their phones during the speeches!  There were 5 of us going to one zone, the most remote zone, and we met our PEA (Primary Education Advisor) for the zone, Mr Balaka.  He seemed very enthusiastic although I got a bit worried when he asked me to not only work in my school but also do some work in another school nearby (ish!).

My zone - Kim, Clare, Robert, Mr Balaka, myself and Jill

My zone - Kim, Clare, Robert, Mr Balaka, myself and Jill

I was transferred in the land rover with 6 others and our bags were taken in a separate vehicle where the bags were out in the open.  When I got my bags at my village I realised my mistake in taking a brand new rucksack and my nice London Marathon sports bag as my luggage.  Dirt tracks for several hours have meant these bags will never be the same again!

Just about time to go!

Just about time to go!

I spent 4 hours in the land rover as I was dropped off last and spent most of that sitting right in the back.  Worryingly the back door would not open but did not seem to be shut properly either so I spent a lot of time worrying it would fly open and I would end up flying out of the door, and with the speed Wilford was driving at, that would have been nasty.  I ended up thinking I was going to have concussion on my first night in the village as I was flown up out of my seat at one point, banging my head on the roof!

I got strangely attached to the land rover!

I got strangely attached to the land rover!

It was quite emotional dropping everyone else off as the people who were waiting out to meet them were so excited and welcoming.  I got dropped off at 5.30pm by which point it was nearly dark and I think my village had given up on me coming!




3 responses

7 08 2008
John Kynaston

Hi Caroline

Enjoyed the first part of your report. It’s a great experience to be able to travel to other parts of the world, especially when you are going with a project to be involved with. You won’t be the same!


10 09 2009

Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

5 10 2009
Dive Blanco

Hello I love your blog, I like to hear about other places in the world and its cultures. I am animal protectionist in Caracas, Venezuela, and I feel great interest in learning about other lifestyles, other places, its people and customs. Congratulations for your work!

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