First Night In Malawi

June 27, 2016

I am writing you from the last leg of our long journey to Malawi. Our flights through Washington DC, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia were uneventful. I’ve never been on a plane with more children than the long flight to Addis.

I figured I would take this time to introduce you to our partner families.

Anne is a widow who lost her husband some years back. She currently takes care of her six children, ranging in age from 4 – 16. Anne engages in farming to earn a living and support her family.

Anne lives in a dilapidated house with one broken window. The house is built with unburnt bricks (made with just dirt and water) and a thatched grass roof. The house leaks heavily during the rainy season. In her own words Anne says “I’m not happy at all that my family does not stay together because of the size of my house, much more to continually use our neighbor’s latrine is not healthy but what can we do?”

On sanitation, the family does not have a latrine since theirs fell as such they now use the neighbor’s latrine, which threatens the health of the family.

Pelepetuwa is a 32-year old widow raising her five children. The children lost their father a while ago and thus Pelepetuwa has the responsibility to look after them all by herself. Pelepetuwa and one of her children are HIV positive.

In terms of shelter, the family’s house collapsed due to heavy rains and so they are being accommodated at Pelepetuwa’s oldest daughter’s house who has her own family; 3 children making it a total of 10 occupants in the house. The sister’s house is a small single-room house, built with unburnt bricks, a dirt floor, no windows and with very poor ventilation and one can only imagine having that many people in a house like that.

The family usually suffers from Malaria because they don’t have mosquito nets. They sometimes suffer from diarrhea especially during rainy season because they have a toilet which is in bad state.

The remainder of our travel was uneventful. Malawi now requires and $75 visa upon arrival. The process of paying for and acquiring the visa was extraordinarily slow. The goods news, all 17 of us were allowed into Malawi.

We are staying at the Kuka Executive Lodge, a comfortable moderate hotel. Consensus was we all had a good night’s sleep after the very long day(s) of travel. Door to door for us was roughly 30 hours. A few on our team were upwards of 40 hours. After being cooped up on a plane for so many hours our group took a long walk to a local grocery market to purchase a few comfort items (diet coke/chocolate). Two of our team members were able to experience a local form of transportation on the way home. Bicycle Taxi!

We had a lovely dinner at a local Indian/ Continental restaurant. Kevin and I were able to reconnect with Calvin and Amos, the operations manager and National Director respectively, of Habitat Malawi (HFHM). It felt comforting to meet up with what felt like old friends. We were updated on projects, opportunities and challenges currently ongoing with HFHM. Projects we heard about on our last trip have now gained momentum and are being implemented in country. Most notable is the Disaster Risk Reduction project in partnership with the Red Cross. Recurring natural disasters are a fact of life here in Malawi. Helping citizens to prepare and recover from disaster as a community is essential to their national well being.

Much of our team is currently at church. When they return, we will travel to Salima for a day of R&R and will begin our work early Monday morning.

This is a guest blog post written by Michelle Pavliv, Habitat Wake Board Member. Follow Michelle's experience in Malawi by visiting her blog, Malawi We are Here!