Good-bye (Tionana) Malawi

(Malene and Amy)

It’s sad to think that this will be my final blog entry from Malawi – the last chapter of an amazing experience. Yet, the days leading up to my departure were fraught with drama, too much so for my liking!

(Selling ribbons on coffin row)

First, saying good-bye to my dogs was heart wrenching! Boss, Nala and Jumble were my family – my little tribe that I looked forward to seeing each and every day. So you can only imagine my dismay by having to give them away.

(ORS at Kamuzu Central Hospital)

Unfortunately, Boss and Nala are terrified of cars – primarily because the only times they’ve ever seen the inside of a vehicle is when they’ve been transported from one household to another. So when the new owner pulled up in her Rav4, it pained me to no end to reinforce their biggest fear. Boss put up one hell of a fight, requiring four adults to calm him down to the point of being hoisted into the car. In the long run, I know they will be fine, but it still hurt to see them go…

(Long cues at health facility)

The next drama to contend with – the shipping company. Now, because moving expenses were on my own dime, I opted to go with the CHEAPEST company. In hindsight, that may have not been the best idea. To make a LONG story short, the moving company took five days to pack my meager belongings (mind you, I didn’t ship any furniture or appliances, only my artwork, clothing and office stuff) – leaving me trapped in the house for the majority of my final days.

(Mother and child at pediatric ward)

And, at the last minute the company insisted that the method of payment be in Malawian Kwacha! Now, in all honesty, where does one come up with 1.65 million kwacha? If only they would’ve explained this to me BEFORE I closed out my Malawian bank account. Meanwhile, this company has all of my belongings plus ten thousand dollars in cash – do you think I’ll ever see my things again??? I sure hope so!

(Coffin Row)

Despite all the stress and drama surrounding the basic pack-out, I managed to find time to say good-bye to my friends!

Dinner at Gwyneth & Jorge's
(Going away dinner at Gwyneth and Jorge’s)

My dear friend, Malene, had a going away party on my behalf – complete with a roasted pig and enough food to feed a hundred guests! I felt quite honored as hoards of people came by to say good-bye and to wish me luck on my next endeavors. One of my favorite compliments was sent to me from a Malawian co-worker at NAC (National AIDS Commission):

(Kate, Carl, Jeff & Michelle)

“Amy, you really should feel so proud of yourself for the way you moved the agenda within a very short period of time. You behaved a Malawian way, “humble”. I for one will miss your encouragement and tender advice. Now, what do I say, wherever you go may the Good loving God always takes good care of you.”

(Amy & Lucius, my favorite from CDC)

His words fill me with pride.

(Baobab Crew)

On another note, my friend, Janie, returned to Malawi to garner support for a diarrheal disease campaign sponsored by PATH and asked if I would photograph images highlighting the role of Oral Rehydration Solutions (ORS) at the health facilities for use in their brochure.

(The Barr Family)

Interestingly, approximately 1.6 million children a year die from diarrheal disease – which is so easily preventable.

(Shawn, Len and Ahlia)

As we made our rounds throughout the pediatric wards of Kamuzu Central Hospital, I was reminded again just how fortunate we are and how easy it is to take life for granted.


I am now back in Austin and am working full-time on my dissertation. I have a few months to finish my PhD, then I will be off to Hanoi to work as the Senior Strategic Information and Health Systems Strengthening Technical Advisor for USAID/Vietnam. I haven’t even unpacked my bags from Malawi, yet am already making plans to leave the country again.


Sending much love,

(Mina and Amy)

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