Archives - ‘Malawi’

Live in the moment

July 25, 2018 | Sidra, Joint Honours - Criminology and Women's Studies, Malawi, Uniterra, Coalition of Women Living with HIV and AIDS, Information Management Officer

As I approach the end of my mandate, I can’t help but reflect on all the things I am going to miss

The Coalition of Women Living with HIV and AIDS (COWLHA) head office, Lilongwe

The Coalition of Women Living with HIV and AIDS (COWLHA) head office, Lilongwe

here in Lilongwe. Throughout this experience, I find that I’ve learned so much through developing new skills at work, partaking in once-in-a lifetime activities and meeting so many amazing people. Though I do my best to live in the moment, I find I am itching to take it all in, because in a few short weeks I will be back in Canada.

I’ve never been a way for such a substantial amount of time, so I didn’t know what to make of a 3-month tenure abroad. I’m glad that I embarked on this journey with little to no expectations,

Lunch in Area 13, Lilongwe with WUSC employees

Lunch in Area 13, Lilongwe with WUSC employees

because it has ensured the life I’ve established in Malawi is organic. Every time I walk through the market, I find myself adding details to the mental image I’d like to engrain in my brain forever. I didn’t realize how attached I’d grow to people I’ve met
Myself with COWLHA intern, Josephine and Program officer, Tamala in Ntcheu

Myself with COWLHA intern, Josephine and Program officer, Tamala in Ntcheu

and mundane activities that I’ve never partaken in, like watching soccer games.

Personally, I’ve always been comfortable putting traveling on the back burner, because I’ve had other priorities. So I most definitely did not sign up for this internship to travel, it’s simply been an added bonus. A few weeks ago, I went into the field with COWLHA, where I attended monthly meetings and saw direct benefits of program initiatives. Last week, we went on a Safari, which further contributed to renewing my sense of curiosity. I am fortunate to have been born and raised in Canada, but this internship has granted me new eyes and perspective.

Photos of some of the Elephants we saw in South Luangwa, Zambia

Photos of some of the Elephants we saw in South Luangwa, Zambia

Through both my professional and personal experiences in Malawi, I have further ingrained a sense of responsibility within myself to continue to support development. I am constantly looking for ways in which I can be part of the solution and I feel much more equipped to do so. I have a newfound appreciation for all the opportunities I’ve been given and feel a general sense of empowerment.

Whether that be through traveling or getting involved at home Canada, this internship has fostered a desire not only to see more of the world. I look forward to the next chapter and seeking new avenues to channel the invaluable lessons I’ve learned.

Theory into Practice

July 25, 2018 | Rebecca, Specialization - International Development and Globalization and Additional Minor - Economics,WUSC Malawi, Student Refugee Program, Intern

This summer I received the opportunity to travel to Malawi as the Student Refugee Program intern through the University of Ottawa. This opportunity opened my eyes to not only an incredible youth-to-youth resettlement program, but also to the beautiful culture of Malawian people. Despite being one of the smaller countries in Africa, Malawi is rich with a culture all its own, and filled with kind and friendly people who are always there to lend a helping hand whenever it is needed. You cannot walk anywhere in Malawi without receiving a friendly greeting and a “how are you?”. When you see people talking on the street, it is difficult to tell if they know each other or they are just strangers talking because everyone is friendly to everyone no matter whom they are. This positive environment is also evident in the workplace. The WUSC Malawi team is full of kind, helpful and supportive staff who are always there to help interns such as myself with understanding and fulfilling their mandates.

As an international development student who has been learning about the refugee crisis for the last four years through courses, personal research, volunteering, and work experience, getting the SRP internship has been an extremely informative and valuable experience for me thus far. As my first job in the field, I have been able to connect the things that I have learned in theory, to the realities of situations in the camp. The student refugee program is an extremely special program in Canada. Working in the camp I have been able to witness first-hand how important the work done by the Canadian students to sponsor the refugee students is to the community. The opportunity that students are able to provide for their peers across the globe goes so much farther than the statistics seen on paper. The program has changed lives of individuals and of their families. The community is so proud of the students for working so hard to receive these opportunities and I have met many students who have come back for periods of time to share their talents and serve their community. The reception and the proudness of the entire community around this small number of students is very inspiring, and it shows me how much tangible work can be done on this development issue with simple, but effective programs such as this one.

In my international development classes in the last four years, we have learned a lot about the issues surrounding development ethics including imperialism, ethnocentrism, and voluntourism and in general the way that development projects can sometimes become a reflection of western culture imposed onto other cultures. Having knowledge of these concepts has helped me greatly in properly adjusting to my role as the SRP intern. My role has been to prepare the students who will be arriving in Canada in September, for life in Canada. As can be expected, there are many difference between culture in Canada and in African countries. Many differences can be surrounding topics that may be somewhat controversial or offensive to people, such as religion, LGTBQ, social culture etc. My studies in international development has prepared me for explaining my opinions without forcing them onto others. I am equipped to hear and respect others opinions I do not agree with, and have open discussions without assuming one culture is better than another. My education around these principles has enabled me to have open and informative talks with people of many different backgrounds and groomed me for understanding and respecting different ways of life. Throughout my internship I have been able to put theory into practice, and the experience and knowledge I have gained thus fair is invaluable to my education as a person and my career.

Malawi - Warm Heart of Africa

June 29, 2018 | Samantha, Specialization - International Development and Globalization and Additional Minor - Arabic Language and Culture, Malawi, Uniterra, Art and Global Health Centre Africa, Youth Leadership Officer

I’ve been in Malawi for just under 6 weeks now and I cannot believe that it is already nearing the halfway point of my internship! Time is going by quickly and I know already that I will be sad to leave. Currently, I am sitting on the back porch of my office around lunch time, watching a couple of baboons chase each other through the trees and over the roof of a nearby house. Here in Zomba, Malawi, monkeys and baboons are a fairly regular sight to see but I’m not sure they will ever lose their novelty to me!

I am working with a small local organization called Art and Global Health Centre Africa, or “ArtGlo” for short. They aim to use participatory arts and creative leadership approaches to tackle health issues in Malawi. They have three main programs currently running: Umunthu which trains healthcare workers on LGBTQ issues and non-discrimination in accessing health care, Make Art, Stop Aids (MASA Youth) which uses theatre for development and other art forms to educate university and secondary school students on Sexual Reproductive Health issues, and lastly, Students with Dreams, which provides leadership training and funding to university students who want to implement creative development solutions in local communities.

I feel lucky that I get to work a bit with different teams at ArtGlo. Rather than being relegated to one department, I am working with various counterparts to fill in the gaps and build capacity by doing things with others rather than for them. Mainly, my work has consisted of analyzing data from this year’s SWD program to make recommendations for improvement, working on funding applications with the communications team and helping develop cohesive toolkits for MASA. One day, in my 3rd week, I got to go into the field and see a MASA festival in action. The secondary students had prepared dramas, dances, poems, drawings and more and the festival was attended by their families, police officers, health workers, and the chief of the village, among others. Because the idea is based on forum theatre, the actors in a drama would pause their skit and ask the audience for input on what a character should do or how he should react to, for example, his wife telling him she wants to get tested for HIV. It was really interesting to watch these conversations play out (even with the English/Chichewa language barrier, it wasn’t too difficult to tell who was positively or negatively reacting). These conversations are controversial and not always easy but it’s been fascinating to learn from my colleagues and the students we work with how the arts are actually a powerful force in generating dialogue about important issues.

Regular life here in Zomba is quiet, as it’s a fairly small town. I live in the back room of a cake shop so sometimes on the weekends I just sit and drink coffee and chat with whoever stops by! I’ve also been enjoying hiking the plateau that dominates the Zomba skyline and taking some weekend trips to explore this beautiful country such as going on a game drive or visiting the famous lake! The people here in Malawi are also incredibly warm and kind; the country is definitely living up to its name as the “Warm Heart of Africa”! I feel like I’ve lucked out in being here as I never have felt overwhelmed by culture shock, language barriers or safety concerns. Of course part of this is from taking precautions but overall I feel that I’ve settled in quite easily and I am so enjoying my time here!

One more thing before I go is that last weekend, I got to go to a traditional Malawian wedding! My landlord’s sister lives abroad and had come home to have her Malawian wedding and I was invited to attend. I got a dress made out of chitenge from the market and participated in a part of the wedding called perekani. Perekani is basically the bride and groom dancing while various groups of friends and family (i.e. all the aunties, all the siblings, all the friends etc) are called up to shower them with money. It is quite the sight to see and even more fun to take part in! People bring lots of small bills (in Malawi a 50 kwatcha bill is worth about 10 cents Canadian) and spend literally hours just dancing, eating and throwing money. It was a cultural experience I feel very lucky to have gotten!

One-month mark at work

June 25, 2018 | Nicole, International Development and Globalization, Uniterra, Malawi, Girls Empowerment Network, Knowledge Management Officer

Hi all and warm greetings from Malawi, the warm heart of Africa. I have been in Blantyre for just over a month now. Actually, yesterday was my one-month mark at work. It’s so strange to see how a place can so quickly become a home.

I chose to come to Malawi for many reasons. I am studying International Development and Globalization, so I knew that my education could never really be “well-rounded” unless I had the opportunity to see development in action and to learn from those working at the grassroots level. I came to Malawi because I have been interested in researching the region throughout my degree. Most importantly, I chose this internship because I am working with an organization that works to keep girls happy, safe, and free to choose their own futures.

The organization I work with, Girls Empowerment Network Malawi (GENET) works in interventions to empower girls and increase their well-being. They are a staff of 31 who run about 11 projects of truly comprehensive programming ranging from promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights to making education more accessible to girls, influencing local policy on child marriage, and training girl leaders to run clubs that discuss girls’ issues/collective solutions and advocate in the community against child marriage. The work is truly incredible and I have learned so much about grassroots development, development programming, and the intricate cultural context in which development happens. I also work alongside the most hard-working group of individuals I have ever met. They will work as many hours on as many days as it takes to provide the programming we need.

My work here is in their knowledge management systems. I am designing a tool to track all of their organizational objectives from the activity level to create totals at the organization level. This has been a great application of my course work because it has helped me to apply my learning and it is something that I feel very capable of doing. I’m also working to implement a file-sharing system and cloud software, and doing some training sessions along the way. Needless to say, I’m very busy. I’m happy to be so busy (even if it is also stressful) because my co-workers are always on-the-go working between our regional offices and the field.

I have also been able to visit a few of our projects which has been phenomenal. As my job is not in programming and my Chichewa isn’t yet at a level where I can be of any help, I go to listen, observe and learn. It’s good to see the context in which we work as it informs the types of data collection I recommend.

As for my day-to-day life, I guess you could say I am in a routine. I go to certain activities certain nights of the week, I have a few good friend groups here, I know the city very well, and I feel comfortable. I found it a challenge to make Malawian friends in my first few weeks, mainly because it is not safe to be outside after dark so I spent a lot of time at home with my ex-pat roommates. It’s also tough to make friends when you don’t know normal places to hang out, etc. Thankfully, I have been able to make some great connections and build close friendships. I feel like I have a community here now.

It’s hard to think of leaving, but as I keep telling people, I’m only here for 3 months this time.

Life in Malawi

June 8, 2018 | Sidra, Joint Honours - Criminology and Women's Studies, Malawi, Uniterra, Coalition of Women Living with HIV and AIDS, Information Management Officer

As I wrap up my fourth week in Lilongwe, Malawi, I find I am adjusting well to life here, as I am better equipped to navigate the international internship. In preparing for the internship prior to my arrival, I focused a lot on physical aspects, such as packing. I am finding that the pre-departure trainings were beneficial in helping to manage expectations and keep an open mind. I find this has been crucial to the process of settling in, because every day I am faced with new challenges and discoveries.

Since life in Malawi is quite different than that in Canada, simple things like getting around the city and passing time have presented the most challenges. While at first, I found myself constantly comparing, as I develop my skills in adaptability and resourcefulness, I am understanding Malawian culture a lot better. For example, with the current issue of the country wide power shortage, I have had to learn to do regular tasks differently, like cooking food. I have learned to embrace these differences, because they have taught me a lot about myself and increased my capabilities. Especially after our second visit to the market, I find that I am much more confident and comfortable when I walk around. I am fascinated by the marketplace, because one can get anything and everything. There are stores here for our convenience, but it has been to interesting participate in activities with locals to gain better insight into a different way of life.

In particular, working at COWLHA has been incredibly eye-opening as I have been able to witness grassroots activism. Since I myself am studying Criminology and Women’s studies, I was a little nervous about how I could effectively contribute as an intern. However, I have realized that over the past three years I have learned a lot of transferable skills that can be implemented in many contexts. Whether it be skills in computer literacy or research I find that am able to apply prior knowledge, while also learning on the spot. Over the course of my undergrad I took various classes on globalization but at COWLHA I have been able to witness it firsthand. While I am no longer in a traditional classroom, at work I can see how concepts like empowerment and resource mobilization are used in different contexts.

As the nerves have subsided and I have established a routine, I find that I am prepared to further immerse myself in this experience. Though, it took a few weeks to find my groove, I am eager to continue to develop my skill set and knowledge through personal and professional experiences. I look forward to learning more about the culture to better understand the desire and needs of the people. So far, this experience has truly reinforced that people are more alike than different. I am happy to contribute in any way, shape or form, because I realize that this is mutually beneficial. I would like to use this experience to propel me into becoming a global citizen and continue to pursue opportunities here that will help me use my education for the greater good.

Rien ne pourra me faire oublier mon stage au Malawi

March 8, 2018 | Virginie, ECH, Uniterra Malawi - WUSC Malawi, Student Refugee Program

Depuis mon arrivée au Malawi, je n’ai pas souvent eu la chance de prendre du recul et d’évaluer la progression de mon stage. Bien que tout le monde soit conscient que tout se passe au ralenti ici, j’ai quand même l’impression qu’exceptionnellement tout se passe en version accélérée dans mon cas. Ce moment de pause à la semaine 6 me permet de rédiger cette entrée en provenance du camp de réfugiés Dzaleka, le cœur chaud de Lilongwe (un rapport à la référence du Malawi, qui est dit être « le cœur chaud de l’Afrique »), là où je travaille la majorité de mon temps.

Contrairement à ce que quelqu’un pourrait penser, la chaleur du camp n’est pas climatique. En fait, le camp se situe près d’une région montagneuse à la frontière de Lilongwe, la capitale du Malawi, donc il y fait généralement plus froid qu’en ville. Non, la chaleur provient de l’accueil qu’on reçoit par les 35,000 habitants du camp, de leur générosité, de leur ouverture, de leurs soucis attentionnés de l’autre.

Je suis arrivée au Malawi en début du processus de sélection du programme d’étudiant réfugié de l’Entraide Universitaire Mondiale du Canada, l’organisation avec laquelle je suis bénévole. Ce programme combine la réinstallation de réfugiés au Canada avec l’accès à l’éducation poste-secondaire (plus de détails ici). Vu l’importance et le caractère unique de ce programme, je m’y suis investie en entier. Nous avons travaillé acharnement les dernières semaines : nous avons dû procéder à une présélection des candidats, à une ronde de tests écrits afin d’évaluer les compétences anglaises ou françaises de ceux-ci, à une vérification de leurs documents officiels avec nos partenaires et finalement à des entrevues orales. En fin de compte, nous devons choisir 25 étudiants qui auront la chance de partir étudier au Canada en août 2019 et qui deviendront des résidents permanents du pays. Ce fut un processus difficile émotionnellement et physiquement, mais j’ai appris énormément et ai renforcé ma conviction de travailler dans le but de favoriser l’autonomisation (empowerment) de jeunes réfugiés.

Vu mon immersion dans mon travail, la transition entre ma vie à Ottawa et celle à Lilongwe s’est faite vraisemblablement sans accros. Comme on dit en Anglais, « I go with the flow » et je me suis fait dire que la confiance que j’exhume dans ma vie de tous les jours pourrait tromper quelqu’un que je suis au Malawi depuis beaucoup plus que simplement deux mois. Je n’ai étonnamment pas encore ressenti le choc culturel duquel j’avais tant été averti, chose que j’attribue à un cadre de référence relatif. Certainement en superposant ma vie au Malawi avec ma vie au Canada, cette première est remplisse davantage d’inconvénients. Or, en considérant mon confort ici, je reconnais que ma vie au Malawi est relativement plus facile que pour la majorité des Malawiens, car elle est soutenue par le legs ubiquiste d’un colonialisme qui est intransigeant. Par exemple, je n’ai qu’à sortir de ma maison et les gens m’adressent automatiquement en anglais. J’habite dans un nouveau quartier de la ville qui est sécurisée et sécuritaire et d’où j’ai accès à toutes mes « nécessités ».

Ironiquement, bien que j’accueillisse chaque nouvelle expérience avec curiosité et ouverture, certaines choses superficielles m’ont marquée plus que d’autres. En effet, mon expérience au Malawi me fait découvrir à quel point j’attache de l’importance à certains aspects de ma vie, qui pourtant semblaient insignifiants au Canada. J’ai donc découvert à quel point j’attache une valeur à une douche chaude, et à ma consommation d’une tasse de café sur le pouce en milieu de journée (dans ma tasse réutilisable, bien sûr), choses qui peuvent être rares ici. En superposant ma vie au Malawi avec ma vie au Canada, j’apprends donc aussi quels sont mes petits plaisirs de la vie.

Je ressens donc qu’en ayant eu la chance de sortir de ma zone de confort qui s’étendait que sur 25 km2 à Ottawa pour déménager 12,000 km plus loin, à Lilongwe, j’ai appris plus sur moi-même et sur le monde qui m’entoure que je ne l’aurais cru possible. Mon stage ne me permet pas que de découvrir des réalités qui peuvent être difficiles à peindre et à absolument absorber dans un article académique ou dans un manuel de cours, mais il me permet aussi d’apprendre des connaissances et d’acquérir des compétences transmisses par mes collègues et étudiants ultra-compétents.

Chaque matin, je me réveille reconnaissante de l’expérience que j’ai la chance de vivre. Je redoute déjà le 5 avril, la journée lorsque je voyagerai dans le temps, à travers 7 fuseaux horaires, pour revenir au Canada. Une chose est certaine, rien ne pourra me faire oublier mon stage au Malawi.

En raison de maladie…

October 11, 2017 | Trevor, ECH, Uniterra Malawi - Uniterra - Communications Officer

Durant les derniers jours, j’ai eu la « chance » de vivre une expérience que plusieurs ne voudront jamais vivre en stage international; être admis à l’hôpital en raison de maladie. Et oui, depuis la dernière semaine, mon corps est en train de combattre une vilaine bactérie qui m’a pris comme victime. Au début je croyais être en mesure de m’en débarrasser tout de seul, question que je me repose, mange et bois de l’eau. Malheureusement, ce ne fut pas le cas. Après quelques jours, passez à la maison et à l’office (et oui, j’allais quand même travailler, contre les conseils de tous mes collègues), j’ai senti mon corps perdre toute son énergie. La combinaison de vomissements, diarrhée, fièvre, etc. (désolée pour les détails), avait complètement épuisé mon système et m’avait donné l’allure d’un mort vivant. La déshydratation qui a suivi m’a obligé de prendre ma situation au sérieux et d’aller faire une visite à la clinique. Heureusement, après ma visite à la clinique, qui fut caractérisée par l’utilisation d’une intraveineuse et d’une prescription assez impressionnante d’antibiotiques, je commençais à prendre du mieux.

Cependant, mon point dans tout ceci n’est pas de raconter ma mésaventure, mais plutôt de démontrer l’inégalité qui est présente dans des situations comme la mienne. Pour ma situation, j’ai vite été soigné et j’ai reçu les médicaments nécessaires pour me rétablir. Tout ce, suivi par une facture équivalente à environ 72$ canadien. L’inégalité présente ici est que la majorité des gens locaux n’ont pas accès aux services de santé privée, comme moi j’ai eu la chance. Les coûts associés ceux-ci s’avère à être trop dispendieux. Ces gens se retrouvent donc à affronter leurs infections, sans aucune aide médicale professionnelle. C’est pour ces raisons que plusieurs d’entre eux n’arrivent pas à surmonter leur infection et s’éteignent par la suite. Certes, il existe quelques hôpitaux gérés par le gouvernement et qui ne coûtent pas autant que les cliniques privées. Cependant, ceux si n’ont pas le matériel et le personnel nécessaire pour être en mesure de répondre aux besoins des citoyens. Donc, la plupart des gens qui vont à ces hôpitaux ne reçoivent pas l’aide médicale dont ils ont besoin. Je suis content d’avoir pris du mieux et de ne plus être dans la condition que j’étais durant ces derniers jours. Mais, je suis aussi triste. Une tristesse qui m’envahit quand je réalise que l’argent ici fait littéralement la différence entre la vie ou la mort. Une inégalité auquel j’étais plus ou moins au courant auparavant, mais n’avez jamais vécu et compris d’une manière personnelle. Une question troublante se pose dans ma tête : pourquoi est-ce que je mérite cette aide médicale et qu’un autre se voit refusé? Ne sommes-nous pas tous des frères et sœurs dans ce monde? Comment la vie d’une personne devient-elle plus importante que celle d’un autre? Des questions qui sont souvent suivies d’une réponse que je déteste au plus profond de moi; l’argent.

My first ever blog !

September 25, 2017 | Trevor, ECH, Uniterra Malawi - Uniterra - Communications Officer

This is my first ever blog, never would I have thought that one day I’d be writing my thoughts and then share it for the world to see. Anyways, here goes nothing!

Malawi, also known as the Warm Heart of Africa, truly stole my heart. Nothing could fully prepare me to what I was about to see and witness here, and I was glad. I kept my Google searches to a minimum, because I didn’t want to spoil the surprise of one of my craziest adventures. Give Malawi a clean slate, without prejudice or any pre-made ideas of the country.

The first thing that hit me once I got off the plane was the heat, obviously. Coming from the land of the cold known as Canada, this type of dry heat is not something we normally see. Nevertheless, I was not one bit disappointed. Bring on the sun and blue sky! This past Canadian summer had been quite the let down. Malawi was giving me a second chance for summer!

The second thing that really struck me was the chaos. But this chaos was different; it was a functional chaos. People, bikes, mini-buses, cars, etc. they were all over the place with no clear methodical system in place to divide and guide them. In other words, it was a « free-for-all ». Strangely, I loved it. Loved everything about this chaos: the merchants yelling on the street, cars honking, music coming from anywhere and everywhere. I felt like I was in my element; being at my calmest in the wildest places. Thus, Lilongwe was slowly becoming my urban jungle.

The third and last thing that stuck with me on arrival was the friendliness of the local people. Although I already knew Malawi was known as the Warm Heart, I didn’t think the stereotype would be this accurate. People here are genuinely happy to see you on the street and they will take to the time to introduce themselves or at least wave hello. This friendliness was no doubt a big help for my integration in the country. They are also more than happy to help you learn their language, Chichewa. That’s probably why I’ve been picking it up rather quickly. Zikomo!

An advice to future volunteers that come to Malawi, learn a bit of Chichewa. It goes along way and helps you to not get the « mzungu » price everywhere you go (you’ll understand this once you are here). Anyways, I can feel like this is the beginning of something amazing and that will leave a lasting impact on my life. Here’s to Malawi and potentially future blogs!

Tionana!

My first week at work

April 27, 2016 | Jocelyn, DVM, Malawi, Students Without Borders - Farm Radio Trust, Youth Economic Intern
My first day of work was interesting to say the least. We started with a general staff meeting, that begins and ends with a prayer. The most interesting part of the meeting was a discussion about fuel that lasted an hour. They were discussing logistics about fuel for the cars and the generator, specifically about not having enough money to by fuel, and that each department should only put in the amount of fuel they needed to get to a meeting. This leaves the fuel empty so the next department has to run out and get fuel for their meeting. This is just of the examples of things we take for granted in everyday life. In Canada we would not have meetings regarding how to use fuel or how many hours a day we can run the generator for. It was very interesting to be involved in a discussion that while it seems menial, actually has a large impact on the ability for the office to function. After the meeting I was invited to another interns house for a real Malawian meal made with beans and nsima (a maize paste). It was amazing to me that we had just met 3 hours earlier and she invited me into her home for lunch. I guess I have been prepared for the unexpected regarding my internship, but it was still a shock when I was told that my boss won’t be in this week because he has malaria. Despite asking other colleagues if they needed help, I have nothing to do. I have been reading documents about NYCOM, and their local partners, and just waiting for my boss to get better so I can be assigned work. I feel like I have such a short time here so I am anxious to start working! My boss finally came in to work Friday and he said we were going somewhere, so I hoped in the car with my colleagues, and we drove to this really nice conference centre, where there was a youth conference happening. Apparently my work was one of the organizations hosting it and the President of Malawi was the guest of honour. It was an amazing experience to see the President and the traditions that went along with hosting him, such as his own personal band and dancers. It was so inspiring to here from a group of young people from Malawi telling their experiences directly to the President, and the see the reality of the challenges youth are facing in the country. My mandate is to engage with youth organizations, so it was a great, unexpected experience that gave me some insight on the youth challenges in Malawi! Can’t wait to see what next week brings, hopefully some work direction!!

Déjà la fin

July 24, 2015 | Clothilde, DVM, WUSC, Malawi, Student Refugee Program

Maintenant presque trois mois que je suis au Malawi et malheureusement, mon stage au camp de réfugiés de Dzaleka s’achève bien trop rapidement. Je ne peux que constater à quel point je connais très peu le Malawi puisque mon temps a été très largement passé au camp. Toutefois, je peux affirmer que je connais bien mieux le Rwanda et la RDC puisque se sont les pays les plus représentés au camp! Les fins de semaine passées au camp avec mes étudiants m’ont permis de comprendre davantage le quotidien des réfugiés même si je ne pourrai jamais réellement saisir la réalité à laquelle ils sont confrontés chaque jour. Plusieurs de mes proches m’ont reproché de ne pas avoir pris le temps de voyager et surtout de ne pas être allée au Lac (plus grande attraction du Malawi), mais je ne regrette en rien d’avoir accepté les invitations des étudiants avec qui je travaille. D’ailleurs, à tous ceux qui feront ce stage dans le futur, je vous conseille vivement de faire de même.  De cette façon, j’ai pu prendre part aux différents services religieux du camp, rencontrer les familles et j’ai aussi appris à cuisiner de nombreux plats. C’est aussi dans ces moments « informels » que j’ai pu bâtir mes relations avec les étudiants et je sais que celles-ci m’ont été très utiles dans la poursuite de mes tâches. Aussi, ces liens de confiances seront indispensables pour le maintien des amitiés lors de leur arrivée au Canada. En effet, bien que ce stage ce termine dans une semaine, je suis consciente que l’expérience se poursuit. Sept étudiants seront placés au Québec et huit autres seront en Ontario, ce qui signifie que nous nous reverrons sans aucun doute. C’est selon moi ce qui rend ce stage si incomparable et qui fait que je suis reconnaissante pour l’opportunité qui m’ait été donnée de le réaliser.