Sunday Zomba

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Beautiful day. Blue skies, warm but not hot, very light breeze, not too humid – just perfect. Washed clothes in bath. Went for braai in evening at house of other VSO volunteers about fifteen minutes’ walk down the road. Many other mzungu’s (white people) also: a South African PhD student, Dutch VSO volunteer, Australian couple doing VSO-equivalent stuff, and an American Peace-Corps volunteer who complains that she is paid half of what VSO volunteers get. The house is fully furnished and seems plush and opulent. They also – wonder of wonders! – have a bookcase with books, including a few in Dutch.

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After the braai people swap stories of how to manage night-guards, how to get hold of a working bicycle, when is the best time to walk up Zomba Plateau, and where to go to get shirts or dresses tailor-made. Steph and Penny find out what the large blackened pit in our back garden is used for, and it is shocking initially, though later seems quite obvious. There is no municipal rubbish collection in Zomba, the fourth largest town in Malawi. All rubbish is burnt at home, on site. Granted, there is a bit of recycling: our beer bottles are worth K30 each when we return them, plastic bottles get refilled with drinks or water, appliances are taken apart and put back together (then no doubt make their way back to the market!). But all paper, plastic, packing material, fused extension cables and the like are incinerated in back gardens! This explains the persistent faint smell of burning plastic and rubber which hangs in the air, as well as the huge black hole in our back garden with a half burnt piece of garden hose at the bottom.

Tomorrow we start our induction. This will take ten days, though spending half-days only. Note that we have already been shown around the hospital, which seemed an almost adequate induction in itself. We tried to suggest that 10 days was excessive, but they were insistent. “You must rest and then be inducted to Zomba Mental Hospital.” Penny wanted a specific time to meet, and in response the HR manager has drawn up an induction programme, personally delivered to us at home this evening. We suspect much time will be spent finding the right person, waiting, sitting around and doing introductions. I am hoping to join Rob S., a psychiatrist from Manchester, in his ward round for some of the time. Rob has previously spent a year working in Malawi, and subsequently returned annually with the Scotland-Malawi Psychiatric Teaching Project. He has come here now as the Psychiatry Lecturer at the College of Medicine in Blantyre.

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2 Comments »

  1. Natalie said

    Sounds a bit like social life in Edinburgh: a nice international crowd to hang out with (including some Dutch)!

    Very funny BARBAR SHOP. 😀

  2. Elspeth Gillespie said

    Everything seems to be going well for you. Hope this continues. I’m enjoying reading your blog. Take care.

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