Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Week in Blantyre III

I think the toughest day for me was Thursday. After finding a very reasonably priced and fast service internet café, explored the city a bit and had a delicious and cheap lunch at a Chinese restaurant (noodle fix!) – I encountered child beggars. Back in the States I’m accustomed to men beggars and some local crazies – but child and disabled beggars. I’d seen some of them in Lilongwe but seem here in Blantyre, they’re awfully persistent. One boy pursued me half a block until I finally faced him and shooed him away. A small toddler emulated the older child beggars and it was sort of like a game for her. Ouch. I was feeling like crap but I know there’s nothing I can do for them – there are existing services for them. What really set me over that upon arriving back to the hotel, Dee, a young deaf woman I’d befriended the day before, was waiting for me and was about to give up (after 4 hours wait) once I arrived. I was amazed to see her, and I couldn’t recall agreeing a visit from her. She informed me that there is a possibility of renting a room (one room together – eh) and after chatting about random things, she didn’t appear to be ready to leave. Dee mentioned something about a long walk back home. I’d just rented a DVD in hopes that it’d be subtitled, so I took out my laptop to see if it would work (and kill time with Dee). The movie wasn’t subtitled. Shoot. How else to entertain her? I showed her a digital key chain of pictures my boyfriend took of us together and a couple books. She began inquiring about the cost of them – something was a bit off. Then the red flag sprang into my mind. Dee blurted out that the banks are closed and she wanted to borrow MK 2,500 (about $12 or $15) and I flat out refused. She pressed me why – I finally told her that as a foreigner student on official funds, I can’t be loaning out money for emergencies. I showed her the door. It also helped me decide not to be roommates with her – it would suck if I had to cover her rent.
First, ignoring the beggars on the streets (including a child leading a blind woman) and this with Dee happened in my own room within the same day. I was cranky and vulnerable. The following morning, during an online chat with my boyfriend, who was raised in a third world country, helped me bring back to my senses – that I don’t have much of a choice, it’s either a) be depressed and succumb to give money, or b) focus on why I’m in Malawi in the first place.
In a way I’m faring much better here in Malawi than I did in Ireland back in 2001-2002. Malawi is the second country I’m residing in – my first few months was rough in Ireland, despite a Western country, but different types of culture, food, transport, deaf and hearing Irish – it was stressful. I think my experience working as a case manager, then as a group home manager for five years in New York City exposed me to stressful (and yes, dangerous) conditions, and taught me how much of my limits I can push, and when to stop.
With the experience under my belt, the transition in Malawi is much smoother so far. It really helped starting the trip with Allen in Zambia, him holding my hand for the first few days before we parted ways in Lilongwe. And having a journal to write about the events of the day, vent my thoughts, and feelings as well as e-mailing really made a difference for me. And blogging. In addition, making introductory meet-ups with the Deaf professionals I’ll be working with – Euphrasia, Juliana, and Charles a priority – another smooth transition. Mom – I’m eating very well here so far, no worries - not like it was in Limerick. I hope (and gosh darn it, WILL be) using this vibe to last me through to the end of April.
On the upside of this post – the internet’s been restored in my hotel. Yay! But it’s not at the luxury in my room and using my laptop. Better than nothing – least there’s a place in the city, cheap and fast. Now that I’m pretty much settled in, I will begin to coordinate webcam times (hint…). There is a possibility I may be moving to Limbe, a town 5 kilometers from Blantyre, closer to FEDOMA. Or, I can remain in Blantyre at a different hostel where development workers reside. Networking would be awesome.


Anonymous Darren Frazier said...

Hey! Loved your blogs. You gotta write a book one day! Don't stop! Warm vibes sending to you from Finland! Hugs from me and Dawn Jani.

1/13/2009 1:53 AM  

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