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Diary of a Volunteer





Feb 1997
Jan 1997
Dec 1996
Nov 1996
Oct 1996
Sept 1996
Aug 1996
July 1996
June 1996
May 1996
April 1996
March 1996
Feb 1996
Jan 1996
Nov 1995
Oct 1995
Sept 1995
Aug 1995
July 1995
June 1995
May 1995
April 1995

Steve Quits VSO Shock!

World According To
"...Scanning through these newsletters provides a time for reflection" More...More

Highlights (and lowlights)
"Where do you start when reviewing the last 2 years" More...More

So What Do You Think About Malawi?
"Throughout my stay in Malawi, I was always being asked" More...More

What Are Your Plans Now
"Quite simple really!" More...More

Feb 1997

Snapshot of Limbe-life

It is nearly that celebrated time, when I become an ex-VSO. So it must also be that celebrated time when I look back, and try to make sense of it all...

World According to (my newsletters)

SCANNING THROUGH this site I am reminded of several interesting tales, and several interesting ways of telling that tale too.

There's the Pulp Fiction account of the 'Little Differences' between life in Malawi and life in UK (those differences are still larger than ever). There's a video-game rendition of my first trip to Mulanje Massif (I've only trekked up that amazing place a few times since). Then there's my exhausting cycle ride up Malawi's equivalent of Alpe d'Huez - the Chikwawa escarpment (I haven't actually included that pained description!)

My Tents, Pies and Sellotape of Jan '96 describes the Christmas '95 visit of my family (I'm only just recovering). There's the awkward description of splitting up with Rachel at the start of 1996. And who can forget my hilarious adventures in Harare with Rachel (not Rachel's insurance company, that's for sure).

I also told you about the dullness of life in July '96 (and those quiet times are never far away). Things improved with various Mangochi weekends (where I met Caro-Anne), and an indulgent stay at Malawi's finest, Ku Chawe Inn (Nov '96). I visited UK for Christmas '96 (and made some strange observations). I suffered for my art, in January 97 (putting dreadlocks in your hair, surely not!). And of course, I played an awful lot of football (or so this site would have it) - scoring amazing goals, and even playing against Malawi's national team.

Phew! Some stay.

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Highlights (and Lowlights)

WHERE DO you start when trying to look back over the last two years of your life? It's not an easy assessment to make, is it! First, I suggest you look out for the pop-up sound-bytes (or a not-so-serious list) of best and worst things about living in Malawi.

Basically, any two year period of your life will have good times as well as frustrating times. Here - to coin an over-used phrase - these times are a little different.

But has it been worthwhile? What has it all meant, to be a volunteer in Malawi? Good or bad idea!? Again, there are no easy answers, I'm afraid. I have learnt a lot about myself, and a lot about what it means for a country to be a developing country. I've learnt a little about the complexities of living in Malawi, also. Other than that, you'll just have to do it for yourself, or talk to me for a long time (two years experiences can't be reduced to a 5-minute sound byte).

I once wrote, though, in a VSO report: "Life here is fun. It's also challenging, difficult, frustrating, complex, and isolating. And throughout, there are no easy answers - you just do what you think is right, and you learn!" And I think I still agree with these words.

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What Do You Think of Malawi

THROUGHOUT MY stay in Malawi, I was always being asked: "What do you think of Malawi?". I had polite, and not-so-polite replies, depending on the sort of day I'd had. To avoid any contradictions now, here are a collection of other people's replies:

  • "It's great! I love it!"
  • "The people are so friendly!"
  • "It's a beautiful country!"
  • "Not what I thought when I arrived!"
  • "You're treated as an outsider, and no matter how many years you live here, you'll always be treated as one!"
  • "It's great! I just don't like being an Azungu here!" Azungu means white or visitor.
  • "It's such a worthless country!"
Well, what do you think of Britain?

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What Are Your Plans Now

QUITE SIMPLE, really. Get a good job, meet a good woman, have kids, get a dog (get two), settle down, and live happily ever after. And by the time you get this newsletter, my plans may have already started (though 'a good job' may necessitate further travel and study first).


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