Christmas spirit

The closure of the CU offices for the Christmas break provided a great opportunity to experience some of the complexities of Africa. THE tourist destination in Malawi is ‘The Lake’ (about 3-4hrs drive from Blantyre), so it was an appropriate time to have a closer look around that area. We weren’t let down on either count.

The initial plan was to establish ourselves at a self catering cottage on a lakeside resort and make trips around the area. Unfortunately our plans changed after one night at our booking. Generally about 30 years past it’s use-by date, surrounded by burned out or empty houses, the water from the taps so dirty it was like liquified mud, these were a just a few of the items not described on the web site. We checked out at 8am the next morning figuring that if we couldn’t find anywhere else to stay, home would be preferable. As it was we were able to find a variety of great places in the area for a few days at a time.

IMG_3590Photo: The bar at Nkopola Lodge, IMO a great example of African possibilities. Local crafts and materials, great presence. 

We had a most enjoyable Christmas day with the 6 others currently on the AVI program in Malawi. We even had Father Christmas (aka David), who oversaw the Kris Kringle gifts. David is the administrator of a rural hospital heavily supported by the Canadian Catholic Church. One of his many tasks is to organise the monthly pays, paid by the Government. Unfortunately the money is often late (1 – 3 weeks), which given the tiny salaries (approx $100/month) of most staff such delays places considerable strain on them. Recently though the National Bank of Malawi asked if they could run a promotion in the hospital to introduce a new product- Pay Day Loans. For a fixed monthly fee, customers can borrow money to be repaid on pay day. David’s conservative estimate is that these loans are at about 30%+ per month.  I wonder what processes/criteria they use to measure impact?


Symbol of success, the new National Bank of Malawi building in Blantyre. I understand a lot of imported South African labour was used in it’s construction. 



6 thoughts on “Christmas spirit

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