Today was my first full day in the office. Got settled, did some actual work, which was exciting. We're figuring out which hospitals I will randomly sample/visit around the country.
I took a couple pictures of the offices:
The central office is in a strip mall with the first floor having store fronts and the rest of the building being offices. The building houses several other aid organizations too. I will be going along on a site visit to see a district hospital on Friday and to see how/what data they collect at a MaiKhanda site in order to use the same methods when collecting at the non-participating hospitals.
The central offices have, from what I've gathered, about a dozen, give or take a few, employees. These include: transporters (to drive staff and visitors around), site visitors (who conduct the field trips to gather data and monitor progress, as well as conducting quality improvement training sessions to help sites implement improvement methods), the country director, a couple advisors/research fellows, admins, finance staff, logistics staff, guard, and cleaning staff. That's a pretty rough list just from wandering around.
Note: When introducing yourself in Malawi, you shake hands with your right hand while holding your left hand under your right elbow. The handshake itself consists of a normal handshake transitioning to a palm grasp (where you clasp each others fingers transitioning to a normal handshake again (basically people here are straight up gangstah and I feel validated for all those awkward years during my adolescence when I used this handshake with my classmates/friends and felt oh so cool). Took me a couple tries before I figured out the disappointed look on people's faces when I gave them my standard firm American handshake.
I also got my first international cell phone today! I went to the exchange shop as well and walked out feeling kind of silly. Apparently the largest currency/bill Malawi has is equivalent to approximately $2.75 so if you exchange a large sum of money you feel like you landed on Free Parking about a hundred times:
So when the clerk literally handed me a paper bag to hold all of the 500 Kwacha notes after I motioned with the inches wide stack to place it in my wallet we had a good laugh and the guard even joined in too. I didn't even think about counting it there. I've always wondered why currency in so many countries is so much prettier to look at than in the US.
Goods seem to be relatively cheap here. They sell sodas (Coke, Fanta, etc.) for about a quarter and lunch today cost about $2. Malawi is landlocked so goods here are actually considered expensive from the Malawi perspective since they are taxed by their neighbors.