Magical Moments in Malawi

(Reuben’s Family)

As I reflect on my days in Malawi, the words of Charles Dickens instantly spring to mind, “it was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” From the highest highs to the lowest lows, my experiences span the full gamut.

(Cape Maclear)

Granted this last month has been exceptionally trying. After formally announcing my resignation, CDC asked me to reconsider and to remain in Malawi for the duration of my contract (until May 2010).

(Saying good-bye to the wood carvers in Senga Bay)

(Saying good-bye to the wood carvers in Senga Bay)

However, my first priority is to finish my PhD – and judging from my previous track record, to remain working full-time at an incredibly demanding job is a recipe for the “PhD candidacy” to remain indefinitely in ABD (all but dissertation) status. And I’ve been informed by the University that I am closing in on my deadline – so its finish now or never.

(Taken in the Nkhata Bay Market)

Unfortunately, as a result of the breach in contract, CDC is not paying for any relocation expenses (i.e., airfare, shipment of household belongings, etc.); and as an added financial blow they conducted an audit of my fringe benefit allowances and ‘discovered’ that I had been erroneously over paid by nearly $9,000 – which needs to be paid back!

(Washing in the lake)

Needless to say, leaving Malawi comes with a hefty price tag. Yet the experiences that I have gained over these last 2.5 years are priceless.

(Bathing at Cape Maclear)

For instance, last weekend Nell, KK and I drove to Cape Maclear to check out the sites and to say good-bye to Reuben, the little boy I’ve been sponsoring. Just seeing Reuben’s jubilant face lit up my heart and my soul, melting away many layers of stress and frustration.


Reuben beamingly displayed his latest report card! I am so proud of his accomplishments – to be whisked off the beaches of Cape Maclear, leaving his friends, his family, and all that he knows to attend a boarding school in the mountains must have been a difficult transition.

(Reuben with his report card)

When asked if he was scared to leave his home, Reuben replied “he knew that he had to be brave because this is his future.” The boy is wise beyond his years.

(Cape Young Boyz Band)

And as an added bonus, Reuben’s family invited us into their home in the village for a fabulous feast (fresh fish, rice, relish and papaya) – which was spectacular, not to mention quite the honor. Interestingly enough, only the four of us (Nell, KK, Reuben and I) sat at the table while the rest of the family ate nsima around back.

Reuben's Family
(Dinner at Reuben’s House)

After dinner, the family piled into their front room where numerous speeches commenced. Tears were streaming down my face as Reuben’s father, Joseph, expressed his love and gratitude for all that I have done for his family.


Reuben’s brother, Havent, translated between Chichewa and English as I, too, shared my utmost respect for this beautiful family. I can honestly say that we have deeply touched each other’s lives.


As we walked back to our guest house, the moonlight cast a gorgeous glow on the village – making the scene somewhat surreal. And in a quintessential African moment, we stumbled across a parade of women singing and dancing throughout the streets, winding their way to church. As I absorbed the sights, the sounds and the smells of this sleepy fishing village, my love for Africa inundated my senses.

(Boat ride with Reuben’s family)

I’m grateful to have shared these magical moments with Nell and KK (my professors visiting from Austin). I think this experience has also had a profound impact on their lives.

(Nell and KK – photo by Reuben)

(Otter’s Point)

(Stunning views at Cape Maclear)

I’m looking forward to returning to the states, yet leaving Malawi fills me with such sadness. I’ve been frantically selling off all of my belongings, finding homes for my dogs, and ensuring that my staff will not be unemployed and homeless the day I leave.

Nap Time
(Boss, Nala and Jumble have become so spoiled!)


(Boss man!)

And of course, saying good-bye to so many dear friends is always difficult. They have truly stuck by my side during the best of times as well as the worst of times – which is what friendships are all about!

The Gang
(Good-bye dinner at Blue Ginger)

The movers are literally here now – boxing up my remaining belongings. My last day of work is August 10th, followed by my departure from post on August 13th.

(Phone Repair Shop in Rumphi)

I have a few more days to enjoy this beautiful country. I’m still waiting to hear back from Vietnam – fingers crossed. But then again, I wouldn’t mind decompressing and remaining stateside for a little while.


Sending much love,

1 comment to Magical Moments in Malawi

  • Brian Rothschild

    Wow!You should be extremely proud of what you accomplished in Malawi. It was a pleasure to read about some of your experiences. You are truly blessed, as are those whose lives you have touched. Keep up the good work!

    Brian Rothschild

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