It’s been awhile since I’ve written about work don’t be fooled this NOT because I’ve been so busy working as I’m sure you’re thinking. Ha!
Malawian culture although warm is very passive. The concept “of saving face” is of utmost importance so coming in as a “timely straight-forward” American it challenging to get a good grasp on the reality of the situation. For example, I will say goodbye to my counterpart at the end of the day and ask him if I will see him the next day, he will say yes and then when I arrive at work there will be no one around and I will later find out there was a district meeting. So many days are spent just figuring out where my counterpart is. So it has taken 2 months of begging district workers (my direct field supervisors) to introduce me to local stakeholders and lots of clueless (oh my behalf) investigating to find a worthy manageable project for the now 7 months remaining time frame. Just as I was feeling drained and ready to just stay home and homestead for the next 7 months, I had a breakthrough! Peace Corps had arranged a visit because I had expressed the lack of support and work I had, but honestly I didn’t think it was going to encourage anything but bad feelings at the district. But my Supervisor came and met with the Health Education Officer and the District Health Officer and explain about the Response program (this should’ve happened before I arrived!) and with my research of maternal health providers we came up with the idea of not only mapping maternal health services but also since there are so many providers in our district and little to no communication between the varying service providers my main focus will be on forming a Maternal health taskforce with important stakeholders at various levels. WOW! I’m in love with this idea and the PC along with the DHO said there was MUCH need and MUCH interest.
Work! Work in Maternal Health! I can’t tell you how rejuvenating this day has left me, I feel stimulated again!
Despite the challenges of work I have located the most amazing nurturing space on the hilltop of Machinga, I have met so many fascinating people (UN Oral Surgeon, tons of PhD students from around the world, Seattle-native working with Village Reach an NGO working on a FREE Maternal Health Text message program), and find joy in the basic acts of survival (i.e. cooking over fire!).
Now off to read, study, and research WHO documents. I have an initial work plan meeting on Monday with the DHO!Much love to you all always.