Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Life of One "Aid Worker"

Since arriving in Malawi eight weeks ago, there are two questions I have often been asked. The first: "So you're not Malawian?" (To which I always answer, "No.") And the second: "What brought you here to Malawi?"

Now, answering this question is always a little complicated. I'd heard about my organization a year earlier and after talking with the founder, fell in love with the model: peer education for mothers at the community level. Fast forward six months, and I heard about a competitive opening for a one-year placement in Malawi, a country that in all my African travel never made it on my radar. To increase my knowledge on the country, I spent the last several months of my Masters program researching and composing "Child Marriage: a Human Rights and Public Health Analysis," using Malawi as a case study. By focusing on two phenomena that had startlingly high rates here - child marriage, which almost half of the female population faces, and HIV, infecting at least 11% of the population - I felt perfectly poised to bring new ideas to the organization. And the same week I submitted my thesis, I found out I would be coming to Malawi. Recipe for success, right?

The reality is that I can't answer that question with a resounding "yes!" just yet. Despite eight years of experience in public health practice and research, I've felt underutilized and frustrated at this stage of my stay. I envisioned that I would arrive and they would ask about my background knowledge, about my experiences in HIV response in Kenya, Senegal, Namibia, and the U.S. I thought that they would find my thesis interesting and we would brainstorm how my recommendations fit in to the organizational model. I knew that I'd signed up for a challenge, but I wasn't prepared for the type of challenges that have confronted me.

The fact is that the life of an "aid worker," a label I'm still working to understand and accept, isn't easy. We come from the outside with some degree of cultural context that will never match a native's and have to learn to navigate relationships to be productive in our commitments towards development. And while our work life may prove challenging, defining a personal life presents more. We often leave our families and friends behind for six months, one year, two years while we fulfill our commitment. We quickly identify the local "expat" community but struggle to find our place within it. We sacrifice luxuries we'd become accustomed to - Tuesday night sushi and fro-yo, daily Law and Order marathons, spending hours on the phone. And we spend some of the most eligible years of our lives country-hopping and living carefree, wondering if we'll 1) fall in love with a native and never return home, or 2) remain single for the rest of our lives.

Of course this isn't every aid worker's story; I've met people of all backgrounds and experiences who would agree with some parts and not others (such as several government aid workers who celebrate their benefits while I worry if my monthly stipend will hold me over until the next month). But the shared trait is that whether knowingly or not, we see problems in areas of the world that face some hardship and believe that somehow we can improve it. We have some fascination with traveling to the "unknown" and making an impact, with meeting new people and different cultures. As friend and fellow blogger Jenn and I discussed, perhaps there are some selfish tendencies that drive us into this work: it makes us feel good; it lets us see the world; we feel fulfilled by helping others. These are not popular thoughts - nor are they necessarily negative - but they exist, nonetheless.

After two months here in Malawi, I find that I'm still struggling to find my niche. I'm more aware than ever of my commitment to social justice through health, policy, and culture, and have several ideas on how we can begin to approach these, if someone will listen. I'm simultaneously learning more about patience and politics, recognizing that my African-American female identity (or any identity for that matter) will have an impact no matter where in the world I am and I have to strive toward fully embracing that. I'm also working toward understanding that my definition of "not doing enough" is subjective and self-defeating. Perhaps a slow start is just a higher power's way of giving me a break before 10 intensive months.

Or perhaps the problem is the way we conceptualize the label of "aid worker." If we see the title as prescriptive - as indicative of the type of experience we should have - then it becomes a means of measuring our "success," or lack thereof. It becomes a way of justifying things we do or don't do, some of which starkly contrast with our lives back in our home areas. But it could be useful such as in identifying a community of others who may face similar challenges in their day-to-day life.

Perhaps one of the biggest lessons is that like other labels, being called an "aid worker" doesn't define me. As I wrote towards the start of my journey, it's just "a single story."

Also posted at:

Monday, September 26, 2011

Why a "DIVA" ? : the Method Behind the Madness

I've had the nickname "diva" since elementary school, I think, and somehow it's something that's stuck with me. Those who know me know I've always had a flair for the arts - performing, acting, singing, dancing, piano, drawing, designing - you name it, I probably did it. I was always just a little bit too dramatic (in case the scouts were around the corner, searching for America's next great talent). And through my first few years of high school, I actually considered pursuing a career in theatre, thinking I would change the world one stage at a time.
But in 2003, while a sophomore in high school, I had a unique opportunity to leave my small Michigan community and spend a year in the southern African nation of Namibia. Among the many eye-opening experiences the year brought forward was my experience with a girl name Faith. At just eight-years-old, Faith was an orphan of the AIDS epidemic and the oldest surviving family member of her four younger siblings. My interactions volunteering with an AIDS Orphan Center just outside the capital of Windhoek over the course of the year inspired me to take the skills and passions I had and channel them towards a cause much bigger than myself, to empower children like Faith and the other 35 orphans to empower themselves and their communities. Eight years later, I'm still working in public health...

Although the nickname "diva" may have started because of my artistic background, I maintain it because of the positive elements that title signifies. People often draw from the ridiculous happenings of pop icons like Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston, but as Shana Montesol Johnson recently wrote, these "diva" tendencies may be "an awareness (hyper-awareness?) of what it takes for them to be their best." Her article, "Want to Succeed at Work? Go Ahead, Be a Diva" captured the benefits of what is often a controversial title.

In response to her interesting article, I've called for a reminder that "being a 'diva”'entails demonstrating energy, excitement, and painstaking commitment to your work. Whether in global health, like myself, or any field, it signifies not just “what you need to be your best” but putting in the time and effort to reach those levels."

Moreover, my current blog "is exactly about using these elements to improve global health in Malawi and critically think about issues in health, policy, programming, race, culture, and more in order to make the world a better place. And although many have been surprised by the title I’ve selected, I think that [Johnson's] revelations help to capture that. Divas are not just selfish people with demands to do their best; they are people who continually do their best, and that passion should not be forgotten!"

I'm going to continue to be a "D.I.V.A" in the field of global health in Malawi, and encourage you to do the same!

Friday, September 23, 2011

From the Field: M&E Supervision at the Site Level

International aid and development worker – n., a person who focuses on “meeting the needs of people and communities in the developing” often done through seeking to “implement long-term solutions to problems by working with developing countries to help them create the capacity to provide sustainable solution.”

I’ve never thought of myself as an “aid worker.” But by definition, I guess that’s what I am. A glamorous-sounding life of traveling to foreign countries to “do good” is replaced by a difficult and often challenging reality that some of us do because we can’t imagine not being involved. Now of course, working for a non-profit has something to do with it; those I’ve met working for the U.S. government, U.N., or E.U live a considerably different lifestyle than my own. And so began my first real trip away from Lilongwe “in the field”…

Our plan to leave from Lilongwe at 10 AM Sunday morning changed to 2 PM (and then 2:30 PM) just minutes before I was expecting the vehicle, reminding me that patience and flexibility are virtues in public health and development. Three of us and our driver began the few hour journey to the Southern Region district of Balaka, where we would begin our week.

Village we passed on the journey

A homestead

Subsistence farming is the primary economic activity here

You probably can't tell but this is cotton:
one of the biggest exports here!


First thing Monday morning, we visited Phimbi Health Center. We observed the CHWs give the daily health talk (the day’s topic: family planning) and proceeded to watch the pre-test counseling they’ve been trained to provide. We first watched a couple’s counseling session; the pair struck me as no older than mid- to late-20s (although I later noticed that many of the women were teenage mothers). The young man’s football jersey, jeans, and rubber sandals almost allowed me to forget that I was in a rural Malawian village, but I was quickly reminded as I observed the woman’s blackened bare feet and chitenje cloth she wrapped around her body, failing to conceal her pregnant bump. We then watched a newer CHW counsel a group of three women before the blood test was performed by health surveillance assistants (trained by the government to do HIV counseling and testing and administer family planning services due to the shortage of trained healthcare professionals).

Phimbi Village

Health Center

CHW giving talk on family planning

Looking through M&E tools at Phimbi

Over the course of our few days away, we visited five health centers in Balaka and one in Mangochi. We looked through the client registration books and other M&E tools, praising the areas that they did well on and pointing out areas for improvement. Several issues presented themselves throughout our supervisory visits from neglecting to capture all requested data on each client to incorrectly transferring information from the daily register to our logbook we use for our data records. There was also the occasional addition mistake, which could significantly influence our perspective of the program over time.

And then there was the challenge identified by my work partner: the impracticality of managing our current client log at the high-volume sites. A paper logbook track HIV positive women from pregnancy to two years after giving birth, and at sites with hundreds of clients, it is almost impossible to locate a person’s record. I proposed alphabetizing the entries using tabs and possibly switching from the current binding to one where pages can be added as needed. We will see what comes of this proposal. 

My colleagues discuss our observations
with the coordinating CHW

Chilipa Health Center

Balaka District Hospital

The experience was much of what I’d been waiting for: visiting several health facilities, traveling to remote villages, interacting with community health workers and overseeing their current work, making recommendations to improve an already impressive program. The highlight for me was encouraging participants at a support group session to demonstrate how to apply a condom.

But it also presented several challenges. We were given a per diem of just over US$100 to get through a week, which encouraged me to live on maize-based nsima, rice, and occasionally deep-fried “chips” and to stay in less-than-desirable accommodations. (Thank goodness my trip to Blantyre reminded me I should always bring my own bed sheets and bug spray). I was constantly aware of my “young, foreign, female” status, as our party of five had only me to represent the XX chromosomes, a reality al too common in aid work in Malawi. And then, we had the added complication of the Malawian fuel shortage; our trip ended three days and five sites early, and we had to leave our driver and vehicle behind.

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The four plus hour bus ride home...

But overall, the trip was a rewarding experience, a bonding opportunity with my colleagues, and a critical insight toward better understanding the field of global health here.

Bonding over dinner...

And Chibuku, the local maize beer...

Doing as the Malawians do.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

From the Field: A Lesson on Nutrition in Malawi

They say “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.” This past week, while on a field visit to several of health facilities in the Southern Region of Malawi, I tried to do just that: eat as Malawians eat.

For the first night, I had a heaping serving of white rice accompanied by three cubes of beef in stew and a few spoonfuls of leafy green rapeseed. The next morning, for breakfast, I had a large portion of rice porridge, two large cups of white rice caramelized in sugar. For lunch, I had two large matanda (pats) of the staple nsima – a thick, maize porridge that is eaten by hand, accompanied again by beef stew and rapeseed. I noticed that I was feeling sluggish and needed some more vitamin-rich food in my diet. I also noticed that one of my colleagues cleared all three matanda of nsima but left his greens, which I kindly offered to eat for him. For dinner, I had an entire plate full of chips, the equivalent of at least four deep-fried sliced potatoes. I enjoyed the banana given after the meal and requested a bowl of greens to go with it, in hopes of improving my clogged digestive track. The cycle continued the next day. In my attempt to “do as Malawians do,” I even had a cup of the thick, local, maize beer called Chibiku (also known as Shake Shake). I was extremely skeptical when my co-workers told me how nutritious this fermented liquid porridge was but enjoyed it nonetheless.

By Day 3, I was dehydrated, tired, and sluggish. I skipped breakfast altogether while the others enjoyed the bowl of rice porridge. By lunch time, I did something very unusual; I requested only a bowl of masamba ambiri (lots of cooked green, leafy, spinach-like rapeseed). No carbs. No protein. Just green, leafy goodness. Even with the few words of Chichewa I understand, I gathered that the restaurant patron couldn’t believe that was all I was going to eat. When I asked how much my meal would be – expecting to pay something similar to the 250 kwacha ($1.50) I'd been paying all week – her answer astonished me. “How much should you pay for these vegetables? Vegetables?! Ah - you can have them for free.” A meal that I gladly would have paid 1000 kwacha for had no value to her.

The issue of nutrition is something that has struck me here in Malawi. The value of the meal is placed in the starch (nsima, rice, or potatoes), followed by an often fatty protein (beef, chicken, or chambo – tilapia), and possibly accompanied by a small portion of relish such as rapeseed, pumpkin or sweet potato leaves, or beans. But this is not because vitamin-rich vegetables are expensive or unavailable; today I bought three bundles of spinach, six tomatoes, three bell peppers, three onions, two eggplants, and two big carrots for approximately US$2!

A friend named Mya, an agribusiness economist here, had a theory on the lack of value placed on what we know to be “nutritious” meals. He identified four primary categories that he believes contribute to the current diet, and after reflecting on his categories, I’ve expanded below:
  1. Income: according to the World Food Program, 40% of Malawians live on under US$1 a day. Poverty affects a majority of Malawians and has a significant impact on the food decisions that people make.
  2. Food insecurity: defined as a situation in which food is difficult to get, this is often an issue of money, cost, and proximity to food sources. Malawi is an agricultural economy, with this sector accounting for one-third of GDP and 90% of exports. Additionally, 80% of Malawians live in rural settings where goods farmed are often produced for export rather than for personal use.
  3. Knowledge and Education: only 63% of Malawians are able to read and write, highlighting the problem of education. Education is a powerful tool where people can be exposed to the value of a nutritious diet and how to achieve it.
  4. Culture: Malawians love nsima; they love large portions of white rice and slices of starchy fried potatoes. These foods are not just something to eat; they are integral parts of the Malawian experience. And as was recently posted on The Malawian Beat, suggesting a change in the diet “means losing some of your cultural identity.”

The importance of knowledge and culture in understanding nutrition is a very thought-provoking notion, particularly in thinking about a way forward. My supervisor insists that “you haven’t eaten today if you haven’t had nsima,” and his perspective was developed from within in this culture. I’ve heard trained nurses and public health specialists insist on the nutritional value of Malawi’s maize-based dishes, despite that my own medical knowledge (albeit limited) suggests the opposite. Simply telling a Malawian that he or she should eat more vegetables because “it’s good for you” may not be enough to shift a mindset based on several generations.

This experience is not unique to Malawi. When I spent six months in Senegal, I remember desperately seeking fresh fruit and vegetables. In Kenya last summer, I could never finish the portions of meat and carbs that comprised every meal. And when I was in Nigeria last November, I constantly requested extra portions of vegetables to accompany the filling portions of yam-based fufu, meat, stew, and fried plantain I ate frequently.

And it's not unique to just nutrition either. My experience in HIV prevention, treatment, and care over the past eight years has revealed that what may appear to be simple solutions - such as using a condom to minimize transmission or taking antiretroviral medications to slow the progression of the disease - sometimes challenge common cultural practices and beliefs. I can't say for certain yet but these may be some of the challenges contributing to high incidence and illness from HIV in Malawi.

I have always been a strong proponent of the importance of cultural competency in health policy and programming, an idea that I was surprised to find little support for during my time at the Harvard School of Public Health. But my lesson in “the value of masamba” reminded me that policies and programs that do not resonate within a culture will never be successful on the scale needed to lead to improvements in health and well-being. In tackling the problem of nutrition, HIV, and health more broadly in Malawi or any community, we have to remember that focusing on money and accessibility is not enough. Problems of health and development are also rooted in culture, and knowledge that has been passed down as a result of shared beliefs, values, and experiences. Until more initiatives understand this and encourage solutions from within the culture, I’m not convinced that we’ll see sustainable and promising improvements.

Also posted at:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

From the Field: Improving Program and Data Quality

Last week, I participated in a quality improvement (QI) training for 12 of our site coordinating community health workers (CHWs). Designed to improve our prevention of mother to child (HIV) transmission (PMTCT) programs across Malawi, the QI training introduced a process to assist CHWs in systematically evaluating programming and data quality.

Nested within a Ministry of Health training facility, the session began as is customary here in Malawi: with a prayer. The Regional Manager then facilitated discussion on the CHWs' experiences in utilizing the QI process three months after the first workshop. Many were enthusiastic about the successes of the process, acknowledging that it allowed them to identify gaps in their site’s current activities and services. The QI program also assisted CHWs in identifying challenges in current service provision. Singere, one of the CHWs, learned that our organization's relationship with that health facility was negatively impacting services, as sometimes eligible clients were not referred.

Following these reflections, the Director of Monitoring and Evaluation facilitated the workshop on completing the QI process. Using an interactive style, he invited CHWs to help identify the three month sample period and then described how the random sample of 25 clients would be obtained. After identifying the sample, CHWs were required to transfer the information (by hand) from their client logbooks to a worksheet, and finished by calculating totals and percentages of complete entries. Along with other management staff, I supervised the CHWs as they completed the worksheet. Some were very quick to complete the process; others required more assistance in understanding the instructions and performing calculations.
After a delicious sleep-inducing lunch of nsima, meat, and veggies, the CHWs were instructed to compare client data from the morning session’s three-month sample and the previous session’s three-month sample. They were encouraged to observe the target they set for an indicator of interest, while also setting a new goal. This prompted a vibrant discussion on sites’ achievements and areas for improvement, as well as areas of focus for the next quarter. Violet, one of the CHWs, observed that attendance at the second antenatal visit declined from 20% to 18% over the two three-month sample periods. As she worked through the second half of the worksheet, she selected this as her indicator of focus for the next quarter. Through reflection and discussion, she identified the problem as being the location of the PMTCT program tent at this facility; it was behind the antenatal ward where clients would receive services. In response to this problem, she suggested creating a schedule whereby a staff member is always waiting for clients at this particular facility. She set a target of 50% second antenatal visit for the next follow-up session in December.

Overall, the one-and-half-day workshop provided an interactive opportunity for CHWs and senior management to review program functioning as well as the quality of data recorded. The workshop was not without its challenges, as it required a lot of time and supervision for women who had – at most – a high school diploma. Regardless, the CHWs demonstrated their capability and wiliness to be an active part of improving the PMTCT programs. Instead of management pointing out program and data shortcomings, the CHWs had the opportunity to discover the depth of the problem and to form a plan of action in response, uniquely allowing them to take ownership of the data analysis process. It is too early to see the impact that initiating this QI process will have on our data or programming, but as results are thus far promising, we will be introducing this process at the remaining 35 sites.

Coordinating community health workers work through
the QI process. 
The Director of M&E walks CHWs through
the process.
I assist one of the CHWs as she completes the worksheet.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Very Special Day!

Today was a very special day. No, it's not because it was my six week anniversary here in Malawi as of 2 PM (but who's counting?). And no, it's not because I'm currently "housesitting" for a friend who has high speed internet, a washer and dryer, and free calls to the U.S. Today was special because it marked the day that I conquered one of my biggest challenges here in Malawi: the bank.

Now, this may sound a little ridiculous, but anyone who has entered a bank in Malawi (or one of several other African countries) knows that banking is an ordeal. Ridiculously long lines, a variety of odors, and zero personal space don't even begin to describe the experience that has become the bane of my time here.

My first experience involved trying to identify which bank I should open an account with. I visited two banks that were near my office, and two hours later, I had no account, no pamphlet, and no hope of finding something comparable to the beloved Federal Credit Union I left behind.  

Experience two involved actually opening an account, which, of course, meant a long waiting period and lots of paperwork. I was instructed to then join the world's longest queue in order to deposit the required 1000 kwacha (USD $6) minimum and pay for my ATM card. Of course it would be an hour later that I discovered, as I reached the teller, that I was supposed to use the random piece of carbon paper next to the deposit slips to generate my own receipt.

And then, experiences three and four marked the real fun, as I attempted to actually pick up my ATM card and withdraw money. These involved three consecutive hours (in the middle of the workday, mind you) of standing in the queue with someone rubbing up against my backside, while I watched not one, not two, but three people cut into the line. I was baffled when a work colleague came one-and-a-half hours after me and left half an hour before me. I thought I was going to snap when I reached the front and the teller suggested my numbers weren't written clear enough. "We don't allow painting," she kept repeating, "You'll have to go fill another form." Learning from my surroundings, I exited the line, filled the paperwork, and proceeded to the front of the line so as to avoid another three hours of waiting.

So today, when I arrived at the bank 30 minutes before opening, I was so excited to be the first in line! (Of course, this didn't last, as a man decided to actually push his way in front of me when the door opened). I went straight to the teller, requested my ATM card (as it had now been more than a month), and was told that I should just "sit and wait" while they printed it for me. After an hour, I asked how much longer I should wait, and when she responded one more hour, I explained that despite the hours I'd spent in the bank over the past few weeks, I actually had to go to work.

I left feeling a little defeated (especially when they asked me to fill out more paperwork because they couldn't find my previous records) but determined to go home with my card in hand today. And so, after a busy day involving lunch and a Chichewa lesson, I did what everyone else seemed to already know: I utilized my surrounding resources. I called a "friend" I'd made at the bank a week earlier, and instead of waiting in line this afternoon, he immediately presented me with my card. Why hadn't I taken advantage of this sooner?  

I wish that my story was unusual, but perhaps Silvia Banda got it right when she observed that "the customer is never right with Malawi banks." Perhaps my experience summarizes, on a much smaller scale, how societies rely on some sort of resourcefulness to receive guaranteed services (sounds awfully similar to the "c"-word, right?). I haven't been able to figure out why the banking experience is so inefficient, or why there are always so many people in business clothes who have hours to spend at the bank each day. But I am ecstatic that I can celebrate my six week anniversary with access to my own money! Hooray!


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Blantyre and Zomba for my First Weekend Away from "Home"

Colored with a field visit, a national football match, some long bus rides, and some really great company, this past weekend was one of those times that reminded me why I love (and then hate, and then love) life in “Africa.” After spending the last five weeks in Lilongwe – at times stuck in my apartment (in the dark) for lack of transportation (or electricity) – I was so excited to get out of the sprawling suburban city and explore! With a fully-packed backpack and half-hazard plan, I joined the program manager, her five-year-old daughter, and our driver for a three-hour 5 AM journey to Blantyre, where we attended the graduation of some of our community health workers.

5 AM...

6 AM...

7 am...

The community health workers formed a choir at graduation!

Some more CHWs perform a skit. They were pretty good,
but I wish I could have helped with the staging... 

One CHW receives her certificate and shakes hands with
 a doctor representing the District Health Office,
then the program manager, and finally a representative from
the District Nursing Office.

The graduating CHWs sing and dance to end the ceremony.

Me (right), management staff, and the graduates!

My supervisor and all other attendees enjoying "tea time"

Graduates enjoy donuts, samosas, fanta, and milk tea...Yum!

Instead of returning to Lilongwe with the rest of the team after the one-hour ceremony, I began my weekend excursion and first adventure in Malawi. I convinced my friend Emma to make the one-hour journey to join me for the night, and so as I awaited her arrival (which ended up turning into four hours), I spent time with the Blantyre-based program staff. I had no plans, no accommodation, and no direction on how to maneuver around the city, so our driver was nice enough to spend his afternoon escorting me to every “shoestring” lodge listed in my Bradt Travel guide in my attempt to find the most decent accommodation at the lowest possible price. Our three hours together also turned into a tour of the city, including Kamuzu Football Stadium and other “nooks and crannies” of what is known here as “B-city.”

A beautiful view from one of the (nicer) lodges I visited.
I am so ready to play "hostess" in Blantyre!

As soon as the driver dropped me off, I visited Masu, my first and only female Malawian friend that I met at the hair salon last weekend. She was so sweet and welcoming, as we talked about failed relationships (sigh...) and life in Malawi. Emma arrived, and after tea and more conversation, we headed to our hotel to get settled before dinner.  As the sun went down, we quickly discovered why the lodge I selected cost less than $20 for the night: cockroaches! Ugh!! One can of insect spray later, we tried to put this behind us as we headed to dinner, but car trouble added another ripple in our evening plans. Eventually we made it for dinner and drinks at a cute little restaurant where we were later joined by three other friends from out-of-town. The rest of the night involved jamming to the music of the few Malawian artists that I know (Masco and Pixe) at Blantyre’s “hottest” club. Perhaps the most exciting part of the night was the 2 AM attempted mugging of Emma’s purse, which resulted in some awesome battle wounds for her and a mini butt kicking from our other three friends for him.

Masco sings my favorite song "Wa CV," about how he
wants a girl with a good CD. Holler!

Malawian rapper Pixe joins Masco.

On Saturday, the adventure continued as we attended the national football match of the Malawian Flames versus Tunisia. The weather was hot and nearly unbearable, but with the stands full to capacity for this important qualifying match, the atmosphere was addicting! The match wasn’t terribly exciting (as there were no goals) but just being part of the crowd – while draped in my Malawian flag, of course – was energizing! We finished the evening with a (long) minibus journey to Emma’s home in Zomba, where we had a home-cooked dinner and good conversation with a volunteer I’d met a few weeks ago in Lilongwe.

Harvard and Malawi represent!

Rowdy crowd shakes the concrete stands...

Malawi team warm-up. Don't you just love football players?

Stadium almost completely filled to its 40,000 capacity.

Me and Emma at the match!

Go Malawi Flames!

A real fan...

The weekend ended with breakfast with another friend (shout out to Dezio, who's coming to visit me in Lilongwe this weekend!), a five-hour packed bus ride back to Lilongwe, and, of course, an evening involving a free drink (gotta love Harry’s Bar), jazz music performed by my Rasta friend, and quality time with Jenn, another friend who just arrived in Malawi. All-in-all, it was a pretty exciting weekend that reminded me that I’m going to be okay! I’m thinking that this coming weekend deserves an equally entertaining adventure, but we’ll see…

Full bus for the bumpy ride home. I'm still sore 2 days later...