Wednesday, 18 April 2012

23 days til take off

In 23 days I will be getting on the plane in Brisbane with Thai Airways to embark on what feels like an epic flight to Lilongwe, Malawi.  The long flight will include 4 planes with a minor transfer in a little place in Africa before going via Kenya on Kenyan Airways to Malawi.

I remember the first time I flew to Malawi in April 2010.  The feeling of finally getting off the plane in Malawi to be met by the warm air, the red dirt and the plains of Lilongwe.  Ahead of me was an exciting 4 week adventure of getting dirty building wells, painting classrooms and working with children with varying disabilities.  Little did I know that this trip would have such a long lasting effect.

Malawi has a reputation of being the friendliest African nation.  The smiles that came from every face we passed by was infectious.  My cheeks at the end of the first week were exhausted and sore from smiling for hours of the day.  Their fascination with mzungus (white people) and our digital cameras and blonde hair was an amazing cultural experience and wake up call.  We think how lucky we are to be born in a society like Australia however these communities and villages in Lilongwe were happy and appreciative of the interaction with us and fascinated by what we had to bring to their village. Whether it be making a well, clay oven, wheelchairs for their disabled etc. - things we take for granted.

The next few weeks, during this preparation phase, will ignite emotions and memories from those 4 weeks 2 years ago.  This time however my trip will predominantly focus on assisting and assessing various disability cases.

As an exercise physiologist who has predominantly worked with musculoskeletal cases of predominantly white Australians this is an exciting and wonderful challenge that will not only enhance my working skills but also continue to create and develop me as a human being and continue to build on my life journey.

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