By Katie Schouten
We landed in Lilongwe airport around midday Wednesday and to our delight we met a hostel co-coordinator, Francis, who took us to The Campus. The journey from the airport to the accommodation was one I can only describe as surreal. My eyes filled with amazement and fascination as we got to see women selling tomatoes on the side of the road and carrying heavy buckets of water on their head while no cars passed for miles. The fields full of sugar cane and maize really put into perspective the lifestyle I had pre-conceived before I arrived. As my main focus here is health and well being I looked around this brand new region wondering if people even had time to be unwell, or focus on pain or dwell on being sick. Making a living was a key component of survival. I felt a level of understanding and acceptance as to why people in these countries can put their health on the back burner. Making a living is the only means of food. Something so simple, yet most of us in other countries will always have food on the table without making a living. Being born into a level of poverty such as this is a question that really struck me. Such as being sick and having no medicine, no transportation or distractions. Being from this beautiful yet very poor part of the world is a question unanswerable, but contrast is definite. Why someone who has so much potential is given a life lacking basic needs and rights is overwhelming. I can only learn from this with the mindset I use while working as a student nurse with people with intellectual disabilities. I often feel that our world has people like us and people with disabilities to make us feel more. Individuals with a disability give us a real sense of why to care about others. In Chilanga where we stay in the Kasungu region I hope that I can strengthen these feelings. It’s important to me what I can bring home from this project as I learn more about this region each day.
About the Blog
Since 2013, students participating in Transformative Praxis: Malawi have been writing blog posts reflecting on their experiences of participating in action research in Malawi. The original blog with the full archive can be found here