… or our first month in Malawi!
One month ago today we were packing the last details before the big trip to this new world. And today we are packing for the last time in the last 7 months of travelling the world and possibly the last time in the next three years. Packing is nothing new anymore, we know our 7 suitcases very well, it is no longer overwhelming, although it was from time to time. Tomorrow we start building a new home in Malawi. We are going to live on a hill in Blantyre. But before that, let me tell you what happened these last weeks, our first weeks in Blantyre.
The first feeling in Malawi was that we had reached our comfort zone. Although we love Germany and value everything we have here, coming here confirmed why we longed to come here and why we felt at home from the very first moment. The simplicity of life, the chaos, the potential of a new path, the mess, the smiles, the curiosity, the different colours, the different smells, the different feeling in the wind, the humility, the fact of not taking everything for granted and the certainty of living in the present.
For our first weeks in Blantyre we decided to look for sustainable accommodation. To change the patterns of arriving at a hotel or an Airbnb for a natural place, a project in search of its own sustainability and that of its environment. We have experienced for a month the beauty and at the same time the challenge that comes with living in such a project. All in all it has been an extraordinary time, especially for Nuna, because here she has found a sister, with whom she has lived all day, every day. Through this magical place we have met people who have made our first month in Malawi a very active momentum: on the second day we were interviewed by a national TV channel which was broadcasted all over the country. We could not watch the TV program because we don’t use a TV and there is no online news version yet. A few days later a music group came to record their official video in which we were also filmed. We got to know a bit of the city, e. g. restaurants in the city where you can go with children, or supermarkets where people with more financial resources do their shopping. We also looked for a house for the three of us, and after visiting 7 houses, life finally directed us the path for finding one. We have been part of a church community, where we have been welcomed for the first month.
Since the project is located at the outskirts of the city (15-20 mins by car) and we don’t yet have our bike or any means of transport. Our mobility has been limited. Markus has been going to his workplace by mototaxi, i.e. on a motorbike with a driver. Most people use a minibus, a bike or they walk to get to their destiny. Another condition of life that is new to us is the scarcity of electricity. In Malawi, there has been no continuous electricity since the beginning of 2022 due to a very destructive cyclone. The power goes off every day, for at least 7 hours. Two lamps are our new daily companions. We have managed to adapt to that very quickly. Nuna has been going to a small kindergarten where we live. Apart from the care work (housework), I have been designing and editing the content of NUNANMAR, and at the same time investigating on some potential cooperation options with local civil society organisations for myself.
Religion plays a major role in Malawi and without any active search we have immersed in this part of the culture. Although the majority of the population in Malawi is Christian, about 13% of the people are Muslims. Our first encounter with a church has been a moving experience; we have been able to feel the faith that guides people’s daily lives, that motivates, that embraces. It is extremely valuable to be able to be infected by this energy and to gain an active conscience. We have begun to thank life before serving ourselves a meal, and to see this ritual as an opportunity to activate our consciousness and to be grateful for how privileged we are, all day, every day. If we thought we were aware of how privileged we are before, the level of awareness we are experiencing with this simple ritual reaches another level. At our own speed, we are curious to discover what else we can learn from this deep cultural aspect.
It has been a valuable first time in Malawi, the transition to this challenging adventure has been quite smooth so far. Although English is the official language in Malawi, not all people speak Chingerezi. Chichewa is the second official language. We are looking forward to discovering much more of the essence of life in this region. We are convinced that the main factor for this discovery is the language, we have organised Chichewa classes twice a week, with this we hope that in a couple of months we will be able to go to the market and learn the language.
The first time in Malawi can be summarized as follows: new horizons, new shapes of clouds in the sky, new species of trees and new crops, a new language, remembering God much more often, praying again before every meal, permacultural project, living close to a new culture and even a new language, social bubbles.