In the end, it was a great 6 weeks. I came with a mission and an idea of what I was going to do and ended up accomplishing very different things. Such is life. I didn’t end up contributing nearly as much as I would have liked to the work of MaiKhanda and received more than I could ever have imagined, and continue to realize with time, from Malawi. This experience like many others continues to shape me after it is over as my perspective grows and I reflect on my experiences. I met some of the most amazing people in my life in such a short time and friendships for a lifetime began. It turns out the trip was more direction in my life personally than professionally. I learned more about myself than I could have anticipated and it was a beautiful experience. I received confirmation I am on the right path from many sources and I feel blessed.
Malawi’s future is uncertain, much like America’s. I was frustrated at times facing a culture I viewed as stubborn and ignorant. I saw people trying to help, including myself, and met with smiling faces but only on the surface and from those who ultimately could provide tangible support. Those in power, in government, with the ability to facilitate change and accept aid seemed resistant at best. I saw some areas with the culture slowly shifting with those around to patiently and softly push little by little. Mothers are increasingly using hospitals to give birth and trust in the medical system is increasing over that in the local/tribal medicine. People are beginning to see the benefits of an open mind for farming and learning how to nurture their fertile and beautiful land with love. Tomorrow, July 20, is a holiday in Malawi but marks the organization of a national strike, which will give voice to the discontent among concerned and suffering citizens. People will fill the streets and march wearing red in display and demand of change. It seems to be a time of revolution in the world, many populations reaching a crossroads and recognizing the need to right the direction of their future. I can’t help but see parallels between what we call a developing country in Malawi and back home in the states. I know my place is in medicine and with direction from all around me I will serve where I am lead to.
Thanks for reading my blog this summer, hopefully it wasn’t too dry, although at times I had to remind myself to step back and loosen up and to include some humor. I’m writing this in Joberg airport, waiting for my connection to JFK. Thank you, Malawi, for an experience I can hardly put into words. Momma, I’m coming home!