My Heart in Africa
Im staying in Malawi until June. I’ve given up my spot at Hands at Work.
Here’s how it came about:
And as selfish as this sounds, it is really nice to feel needed!
The thought of staying longer had been brewing in my mind since the second week I was here. There is so much to do, so much to enjoy. At that point, everything was still new and exciting. I was careful not to make a decision based on that honeymoon phase, but continued to pray about the choice before me.
One afternoon I was walking home from work. This is my sidewalk in case you need a visual.
But for the most part, I enjoy EXPERIENCING new places, new cultures, and then revisiting ones I’ve enjoyed!
And so, I weighed out the relationships I was forming against the experience of the unknown in a new place.
I work with an amazing team of women! From the preschool teachers, to the young woman who oversees the spec. ed class without any formal training. From the ladies who cook and clean tirelessly despite our growing numbers, to the travelling rehab technicians I’ve accompanied on outreaches (who are learning to ride a motorbike in order to go to further outreaches on roads not intended for vehicles)
I work with a dedicated staff of Malawian women who are working to change the stigma and stereotype of their nation.
Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?
So, I asked if I could stay. And, last week Kathy agreed (after speaking to several of my coworkers to get feedback). And so, there it is. Im staying until June.
But I don’t feel guilty about this. I know that the comforts of home are what help me to leave my house every day feeling refreshed and ready for the struggles and the challenges that will face me to and from work, and at work, with the children, with the mothers, with the poverty, with the lack of resources, with the power cuts and water cuts and smelly garbage that lines the streets where tulips and green grass ought to!
When my parents lived in Hawaii, I went to live with them for three months in 2004, before I moved to Australia. My friend Jen from high school came to visit me and one day we went to Sea World (or was it Sea Life Park) so she could swim with the dolphins and kiss a whalfin (when a whale and dolphin mate). Anyway, I got incredibly sunstroked (how do you say that one in past tense?) and honestly thought my organs were melting inside me.
So, when someone says, “sunstroke” to me that is what I think of.
I would arrive at work and be sweating – from the inside out.
I felt like my blood was literally boiling.
And I had a splitting headache from dawn til dark. I would be taking up to nine ibuprophen a day.
When I sat down I felt a bit better, but the second I stood up, I was faint and thought I was going to pass out.
We have electrolyte packages here at the house (propel) but I was trying not to use them all up. They were my housemates and I didn’t feel right about taking one every day.
I brought two bottles of water to work, wore my sunglasses, and sunscreen and still felt awful.
Someone suggested it was the sun, but like I said, it never occurred to me that it was something you could suffer from daily. And what’s more, I LOVE THE SUN! I hate the cold. I hate everything about weather that is less than 20degrees. I should be in my complete element here.
But what I failed to consider is that in Canada I have a car with AC and I visit shops with AC and if places don’t have AC they often have fans that aren’t restricted by a few hours of power each day. At home, if it is hot, there are breaks from the heat. Not so here. Plus, I walk A LOT!
I walk to my mini bus (15minutes); from my mini bus stop to work (15minutes); and then coming home is usually hotter and a more extreme sun than going in the AM. Im outside with the children, or running from one house to the next to get supplies.
It has helped considerably. I continue to wear my FBC Camp hat (represent!) and look rather silly in it. But it helps. And at this point, if Im wearing flats every day, and long unflattering dresses, adding a hat to my attire isn’t a huge sacrifice.
Originally posted to My Heart in Africa