Sunday, 30th of August
Hello, and a warm welcome to my blog! For those who don’t know me: My name is Johannes Lau, I come from Germany and from the beginning of this August I will be doing a voluntary service at MOET school (Mangochi Orphans Education and Training) in Malawi for 1 year.
I will be following Kate as a volunteer here, and luckily I have had a few days of overlap with her and her sister Ruth so they could explain me the most important things I need to know in order to survive in Malawi. Lucky me!
Exactly a month ago today I arrived at Lilongwe airport, being quite tired after a 40 hours journey with two stopovers. At the airport I had to wait quite a long time for my luggage, but as it arrived and I proceeded to the exit I was given a very warm welcome to Malawi by the school’s headmaster Patterson Majonanga and his wife Rose. I could find the two quite easily because Rose was holding a paper saying “Johannes MOET”.
I enjoyed the sunbeams on my skin, as we drove on a bumpy road to the house of a friend of Patterson, who was introduced to me as “The Professor”. He turned out to be a quite rich man, who was not just a professor but the vice chancellor of Malawi’s University! We had a great lunch, including rice and chicken (You have to remember, that rice is so expensive for the vast majority of Malawians, they can only afford to eat it at Christmas!) as well as some Fanta.
Afterwards we I just wanted to withdraw some cash at an ATM machine. A very quick thing I thought but not in Malawi, if you have a MasterCard. So we had to drive around Lilongwe and wait in several queues for 1 or 2 hours to find a machine that accepts my card (many say they accept MasterCard but in fact they don’t).
As we arrived at my “new home” it was already dark and I felt a bit uncomfortable because of the mosquitoes. You can’t imagine the unforeseen feeling of safety a mosquito net can give you!
On my third day here, most of the children in the village already knew my name without me having even told one of them apart from Patterson … Seems to be like people in Malawian villages talk to each other a lot more than Germans do.
Sadly, after some nice days and evenings with Malawi-Style food cooked by Kate and Ruth they had to back to the UK and now I am the only volunteer here.
Finally the day has come to begin my work! My first task was to teach computer skills to former MOET students who are now at secondary school and come back here to receive extra tuition. What a dedication of both, the students and the school – you can really see that MOET cares and that the students are eager to learn! Sadly in the beginning only 2 out of 6 of the new computers were working because there was no extension cable (as Kate wrote). But after going to Mangochi with Patterson to buy one, the children can now enjoy the comfort of working with 6 computers at the same time. You see your support is needed. Every little helps! (Thanks to Tesco for telling me every time I’m in the UK 🙂 )
P.S.: I am posting this one quite late because during the last 3 weeks I was participating in an introductionary seminar for volunteers by the Franciscan Nuns near Mchinji (west of Malawi). There we learned malawian things like how to cook on fire (their national dish Nsima, which is a porridge made out of maize), how to wash with hands and some basics of the Chichewa language.
Thanks a lot for your interest, I will keep you informed with a monthly blog entry from now on.
A few first impressions:
Kitchen of Mpemba Cottage
Cows at Makwas main road
The “big bus” connecting Makawa and Lilongwe in 5 hours, or sometimes in 9 hours
Welcome sign at Lilongwe airport, baggage claim
The view of the lake from the volunteers’ house