On my last Sunday in Malawi, my friend Tom invited me to see his house and meet his family. Tom is a security guard at the compound where I live, and he also works as a tailor; we international volunteers have gotten to know him as we discuss designs of skirts and take measurements for … More Malawi: You can laugh. You can cry. But you cannot be indifferent.
The internet has produced some truly excellent satire lately making fun of white girls going to Africa. Maybe you’ve seen this story in the Onion “6-Day Visit to Rural African Village Completely Changes Woman’s Facebook Profile Picture” or this advice article on the “Four Best Ways to Photograph Yourself Hugging Third-World Children.” I also stumbled … More White Girl Goes to Africa: Am I anything more than a cliché?
Lately, I’ve been doing a little thinking and planning for when I arrive back in Canada. And as I’ve been imagining what life back home will look like—a full-time job, maybe a car, a nice apartment to myself—I’ve been finding myself unable to come to terms with how life in Canada can exist in the … More Alternate Realities
The WUSC SRP is a small sponsorship program; however, its significance lies not in its size but in its uncompromising belief in the human capital of refugee students –Robyn Plasterer, former WUSC volunteer This past week, I finally managed to visit a place here in Malawi I’ve been thinking about since I finalized this placement … More On Inspiration and Human Potential
When people write about their experiences abroad, I think they generally shy away from sharing what’s difficult. I could too—I could easily write about my fabulous weekend at Cape Maclear swimming in Lake Malawi, or the great morning I had last week planting trees with Malawian youth. But it’s important to talk about what’s challenging … More Learning from Challenges
I’m generally pretty safety-conscious, which was why it was strange to find myself last weekend in a car with a stranger at the wheel, driving down a mountain in the thickest fog I’ve ever seen, wondering if we were going to careen off a cliff at any moment. There were four of us volunteers, all … More The lights of Zomba
In Malawi, chitenjes are everywhere—and they’re fabulous. These 2×1-metre rectangles of brightly patterned cloth, also called kitenje in some neighbouring countries, are most commonly seen worn by women, wrapped around their waist like a towel. Especially outside the cities, women wear chitenje like it’s a uniform. But truly, it’s more like a miracle garment. Here’s the list I’ve been keeping for … More Nineteen uses for a chitenje
The minibus system: you’re never sure why things work the way they do, but the amazing thing is that they actually do work. … More Minibuses: The mayhem. The mystery. The marvel.
Crouched on the ground, dirt staining the tips of our fingers, our group of international and local Malawian volunteers plucked small green weeds from the tree nursery at the youth centre. As we worked, the conversation turned briefly to religion. “Sasha, do you believe in God?” one of the Malawian volunteers asked me without preamble. … More “Do you believe in God?”
One bright Saturday morning, Silly Azungu decides to brave the two-minibus trip to town to go to the bank. Her volunteer organization has requested she pay back funds lent to her when she arrived, and so, armed with the bank account information, she assumes this won’t be a difficult task. Dressed inappropriately (because of heat, … More Silly Azungu Goes to the Bank