and the work begins

I made it! With almost all of my stuff and almost no plane sleep.

Which meant 11 hours of deep, deep sleep and waking up to the cleaning staff knocking at the door this morning. My roommate and I arrived at the same time and both slept in and missed the daily 7:30 meeting at the clinic. Oops. We’ll have to do the formal intros at tomorrow’s and hopefully everyone will understand that jet lag is real.

Accommodations are very hotel-like; the bathroom is much nicer than my own at home. The staff is amazing, food is great, and the site is gorgeous. I will take a walk around the premises this weekend to better illustrate in photos.

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And, there is a cat. A black cat named midnight who follows people around and commands attention like all great cats should. Malawi is known as ‘the warm heart of Africa’ and the people are living up to the name entirely. I am spoiled here.

In spite of my tardiness, I was pleasantly surprised by how productive my first day was. I got to sit down with the Health Surveillance Assistant who is our main connection to all of the community surveillance volunteers. We reconciled some long lists of participants and their villages that had a bunch of disparities. We have almost 50 volunteers trained, photographed and with IDs made!

I also made a guide for the community volunteers that’s more visual and less text-heavy. We’re going to meet with as many as possible this Tuesday so I’ll be preparing for that in the coming days. Another big project that was supposed to be taking off this month was significantly delayed, so I’m very happy to know that getting my work complete is actually feasible and that the people I need to work with have the availability.

Since I’m meeting with volunteers, I need to learn some Chichewa. Greetings aren’t bad:

Muli Bwanji – how are you?

Ndili bwino, kaya inu? – I am well, and you?

Ndili bwino – I am well

Zikomo – thank you

Ndapita – Goodbye

But things get scary pretty quickly:

Ndithandizeni – Help

Sindikumvetsetsa – I don’t understand

So, fingers crossed I understand everything and never need help.

 

Photos coming soon, I promise. Ndapita!

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