Follow my adventure in Malawi as a community health advisor from Feb 2011-April 2013

"Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air" Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, January 20, 2011

T minus four weeks...

So thanks to my Google toolbar I'm made aware of JFK's inaugural speech and legacy of "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country". Thanks Google. And JFK for creating this amazing organization that is going to propel me into Africa in a month in a flying canoe (that's what I dreamt last night, a dream NOT on antimalarials..oh man it's going to be vivid)!!

I'm reading the parts of my invitation kit that were thrown to the side as I was distracted by the typeface that read "Malawi" and "community health and HIV". I am actually happy that these pamphlets of information had been pushed to the back. Things like power of attorney, personal article insurance and something called student loan deferment are all little uglies that I had been trying to avoid.
Now the calendar is moving at the speed of facebook and it's all becoming very real! I'm living in between homes, gave notice to work and am figuring out how to use a pressure cooker. Forget the pressure cooker. I was advised it cooks beans in no time but I have tremors each and every time the little release safety valve rattles that I will singe my eyebrows and be steamed to leatherface. I don't think my host family will be thrilled to have leatherface come and share their table.

Not sure how all of the items I'm trying to collect will in fact fit in two bags weighing 80 lbs total. Somehow, I need to be prepared to lug all of this across the world and live in harmony with it for two years. Doesn't sound possible. Sun shower, solar charger, headlamp. I'm so thankful to be in touch with folks who are living and working in Malawi through the magic of the Internet. All of their advice I want to follow in order not to 'miss out' on something that will make the transition a little less crazy. But I have to be honest, many of the things I have NEVER laid my hands on before. I've been around with hiking and traveling but of course not to this extent. Suddenly I'm practicing with my pressure cooker and on a quest for the most durable undergarments! This all from the girl who brings a school backpack for week long trips in varying climates and to weddings in which I may or may not have been part of the bridal party (what's wrong with that?!).

My amazing friends came from up and down the east coast (and Key West) to surprise goodbye me this weekend! I wasn't expecting any kind of party, large scale goodbye or fanfare. I was picturing quiet, one on one chats via phone or in person, accompanied by a reluctant "see you later" and then me being awkward. Instead, the most amazing, lovely people all came together and had a DC style celebration of friendship and Booeymongers. I couldn't ask for more:) Please come visit! Capetown New Years 2013?! I'm sure we can create an amazing 80s dance party there as well ladies...

Will I really still be there in 2013? I've always wanted to live and work in a developing country, and now that the opportunity is right here, one month away, I can't get past the pressure cooker. I think I'm coping with it by being shortsighted for once, and not really planning for the future outside of getting on the plane and being adventurous and open to learning in Malawi. Before it was always school, work, a trip or some other consuming  now it's just Malawi looming ahead and a great adventure somewhere beyond that. So much to think about and it's almost time to hold my breath (and maybe plug my ears), jump in and let it all just happen...with or without the pressure release valve...


  1. Hi. I am going to Malawi on the 24th and will be a community health advisor as well. All this paperwork and packing is insane. I can't wait to meet everyone else as well. My email address if you want to email me is See you in a few weeks.


  2. Kate,

    I love reading your thoughts on the upcoming transition. I am so excited for you, although a bit sad that you moving to Malawi reduces the chances that I'll randomly bump into you around town. You are an amazing person and Malawi is lucky to have you.


    PS-You'll master that pressure cooker in no time!

  3. Leatherface--
    No worries, girl; you'll get everything sorted in no time. Be on the lookout for my care packages of hot sauce, Bibles, and tampons.
    Bang Bang!