No.s 1 & 2 vacant
#3: Esadu: from Ethiopia working for World Vision, it is not a family posting. He has mentioned that he is lonely and would like to chat. Haven’t managed that yet.
#4 Us: Debs and Helen will be arriving next week.
#5 : A family from South Korea. I have not met them yet as they are on leave, returning in a few days
#6 George: from the Cameroons, CEO of a bank. His wife sometimes visits, but according to his house boy she has a good job back in the Cameroons.
#7 CEO of MTN, one of the largest telecom companies in Malawi. I think he lives there on his own, but he does have his own 24hr guard at his house. I haven’t met him yet.
#8 Andrew: From Ghana. He is the Manager of the ECO bank in town. He is here with wife Elizabeth and their small daughter. They also have a house girl who I think lives in the house with them. She cleans the cars almost every other day.
#9 A lady from South Africa. I’m not sure why she is here.
I still find the security issue hard to understand, if it ever can be understood. We have a high wall topped with four strands of electric fence all around the compound, guard (and friends) on the front gate and grills on all the windows, and deadlocks on every (including interior) door. A lot don’t work properly. The AVI security advisors suggest locking the doors etc. constantly. However just over the other side of the gully is a very similar development (with green roofs) with no guards on the front gate (which is permanently open) and not much of a wall around it. The AVI security people also say that if you do get robbed, it will be the guards who have done it.
Another paradox is that (apart from road deaths – 3000/yr) the most dangerous aspect of living in Malawi is malaria. But there are no insect screens on any windows.
The first few days anywhere is all about orientation, and I always like to start a new job running a form of semi-structured interview with as many future colleagues as possible. This table just to the side of the covered walkway between the main building of CU and the Performance and Impact Unit (PIU, of which I am part) makes a great location for all kinds of activities; lunch, meetings, comfortable/quiet place to work etc. and of course semi-structured interviews.
In this first week I’ve managed to talk with the Country Director (when visiting from Head Office in Lilongwe); my immediate boss (Head of PIU); and all the others in the PIU. A number of areas are concerned with ‘mainstreaming’ , that is rather than having a discreet project (for example, around HIV or environmental sustainability) bringing the topic into the consideration of other projects (such as livelihood and water & sanitation (WASH) projects).
So I have talked to Mphatso and how she is working both internally (within the organisation) and externally in the area of HIV/AIDS; Elias on his work on how to build environmental considerations into all other projects; Tokozane on equality (no longer gender, but covering off on all forms of discrimination); Mona Lisa on her advocacy/education work and how to integrate that into all projects; Francis and Doreen on their energy projects that includes not only improving the quality of a fuel efficient stove that their project oversees production and distribution of, but also developing a proposal that will enable them get carbon credits for the reduced carbon emissions the stoves will produce.
A most interesting first week, at the end of which AVI have spirited me away to Tanzania to talk with others in the program. I’m looking forward to going out to see some of the projects next week.
Bottom Left & Right: On the road between Lilongwe and Blantyre. Very typical sub-saharan African scenes. Great scenery, not much money. However compared with further south (Swaziland/RSA) I’ve been impressed by the number of brick buildings. Those recently painted bright red sell $3 top up credits for one of the big mobile phone companies. Top right: I’ve heard it said that there are no shortages in Africa, as long as you have the money. Prices in the supermarkets are much the same as in Oz. I have been told though that when there is a currency crisis the shelves empty. Top Left: Offices of Concern Universal (Malawi) in Blantyre, where I’ll be working from. Check out: http://www.concern-universal.org/malawi
The first three days are cultural and language training provided by AVI in Lilongwe. The population of Malawi is about 16.5M, of which 85% live in the rural areas, like this pic. The rainy season is expected in the next few weeks. Yesterday there was some dark clouds and a few drops.
Setting off for Malawi from Sydney starts by heading SE on the great circle, with fantastic views of ice flows off the top of Antartica. Johannesburg being almost due W of Sydney means having one of those never ending days, leaving in the morning and 14hrs later arriving in the hot afternoon.
“We know a lot about the ideal environment for a happy whale or a happy mountain gorilla. We’re far less clear about what constitutes an ideal environment for a happy human being.”- Enrique Peñalosa
This intriguing, hands-on Melbourne Fringe Festival event considers how we piece together the ideal environment for happy humans.
Be prepared to think, listen, contribute and decide.
18th, 20th & 26th September, 6pm
City of Melbourne Bowls Club
Flagstaff Gardens, Dudley St, West Melbourne
Tickets on sale now!
Adult $23 / Conc $20
To book; 03 9660 9666 or melbournefringe.com.au
Book early – only 30 tickets per show
For more info, check here or, facebook.com/19pointsofconnection