Malawi – Maria V. Matute

The Young Women's Initiative Making Jewelry
The Young Women’s Initiative Making Jewelry

There are no words that can describe how I’m feeling as I arrive in Malawi. I’m amazed by the positive vibes and support that I’ve received from our hosts throughout this whole week.   I also saw very clearly how colonialism and the years of exploitation have left very significant damage on Malawi. Yet I felt secure in the community we were visiting.

Our driver and translator is Alistair. Today I met with his aunty and uncle. They welcomed us with open arms and gave us fresh fruit they grow themselves. I was so grateful because their generosity was very genuine. As Alistair’s aunty talked about her home and all her plants, her husband talked about trying to find a way to sustain their family through bread-making.

Jennifer and Christina
Jennifer and Christina

Not only are they very skilled at planting, they are also very generous. They rent their other homes to families very inexpensively, aware that people are struggling. They help by charging low rent and encouraging others to farm as well. As we ate the food Aunty gave us, she took the seeds out and explained to us how important it was to conserve and to share their home and gardens with their neighbors.

Alistair’s uncle explained that having people live there also helps them feel secure. This is so powerful because I’ve seen that sense of community several times in other places in Malawi. It made me realize how much the United States is missing out. We honor and praise the luxuries that we have and take for granted: cars, Internet, electricity, phones. However, the sense of having people who want to work as a collective to help uplift each other is something new that I have only encountered here in Malawi. This is a strength that Malawi possesses. In the United States, we look for what is easy, convenient and comfortable: like good transportation, nice spacious rooms, safe communities. But we don’t look for communities that have positive, generous values. This causes us to not have those unifying forces that can bring people together. There is a beauty that comes with helping one another that is often blinded by negative self-ambition and selfishness.

Malawi has really made me grateful and also aware of the opportunities that I have as a student. I never saw a community as an important aspect to life, or as a means to help me strive for my goals.  This is something I very much lack and seemingly irrelevant to most of us in the United States.

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