Malawi Wowwy

After 35 hours of travel, four scrumptious meals on Ethiopia Airlines, six beers with one British guy in two African socialist republics, I made it home safely and happily this weekend. Instead of an extensive travelogue, I will summarize my trip in charticle format:

  • Jeremy and Melissa, my friends who run Goods For Good International, are better people than anyone you know. They've avoided reinventing the wheel with top-down aid and instead research community-based organizations already in place (along with their employee, Brigitte). This allows them to find out what Malawians -- who suffer from poverty, AIDS, malaria, fatal diarrhea and a broken educational system -- truly need. Then they work with corporations in the states to provide shoes and books and pens and pencils to the most vulnerable people in Malawi (and also Liberia).

  • But it's not just Goods For Good. Melissa and Jeremy bust their ass on so much other stuff in the community each day -- volunteering as teachers, helping individuals out of their own pocket, etc.

  • To say Malawi is merely poor is like saying America is merely rich. Agricultural techniques are probably 300 years behind the West. But the place is generally politically stable, the people are friendly and those trying to make a buck don't swindle Westerners every chance they get (I'm looking at you, Egypt and Vietnam...)

  • Chubuku, the "international" beer of Malawi, comes in a milk carton and is pretty much the grossest possible thing you can put into your mouth. Imagine putting a cardboard box in a Cuisinart with expired corn-flavored yogurt and Natty Light. Mix for 5 seconds, drink, and then spend the rest of the evening in the outhouse.

  • Monkeys are cool, but the elephant that showed up outside of our lodge during safari in the middle of a game of "I Never" (which I totally won) is way cooler.

  • Malawian 2-year-olds are God's gift to cuteness. I took home six. Congrats, Mom and Dad! I told you that you'd be grandparents before Lenny and Susie!


chris said...

it beats my weekend in west deptford.
amazing shit..

Old Man Snap said...

Who's a Chelsea Football Club fan?


Victor Kaonga said...

"Agricultural techniques are probably 300 years behind the West."

I wonder why Europeans and Americans think others are behind! Please grow up and understand each situation as it is. The agricultural techniques in Malawi fit with within many factors that prevail.
I don't see the need for any comparison here.

AV said...

Wondeful experience! I wanna hear about how you won "I Never" and see pictures of the elephant!

Matt Katz said...

Just have to respond really quick to Victor Kaonga...I hope you would take my post as a whole and realize that I'm clearly not making societal or cultural comparisons about any countries being "behind" the West.

But in my travels throughout Malawi, I saw only a couple of instances of animal labor being used in the fields, and a number of occasions where children under the age of 10 were pulling hoes. In terms of modern "agricultural techniques," Malawi is simply behind progress made elsewhere in the world in terms of working fields more efficiently, quickly and safely. 300 years? That I'm not sure about. But it's about right.

Thanks for looking out for your country, by the way. Wish I had the same pride about the US of A.

George Ng'ambi said...
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