By Alex Bernier
I felt a sense of relief after all the overwhelming events happening on The Campus. A meeting with the Tuck Shop owner took place in the hostel discussing his plans, our suggestions, and questions about the Tuck Shop. The Tuck Shop is a new brick building that was constructed close to the Community Center where the friendly and committed owner is starting a business in selling items to the community. First impressions of him are good and he seems very excited about the potential success and a trustworthy partnership. He is getting ready to open the shop in two days. His cultural experience and understanding allows him to set appropriate prices that the villages will be able to afford. This presents a welcoming business environment to the community so that they won’t feel cheated and are happy to buy locally. An aspect I can bring to this project is my math skills. Calculating how much he pays for items, how much he can sell them for, what profits are made, and having an organized system. Other ideas have been to start a tab for the Transformative Praxis: Malawi members to make buying easier and to give the Tuck Shop owner money in advance to go buy supplies for the shop.
This has been my first relationship where respect was earned from both cultures to develop a sustainable Tuck Shop for the community. This is much different than when interacting with the children who copy and surround us constantly, with what I would say is undeserved respect and the idea that we are better or smarter than the rest of their community members.
I cannot wait until the end of our five weeks in Malawi to see the progress of the Tuck Shop. I hope it is appreciated and used often by the community long after we have returned home.
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