Tuesday, 9 December 2014


Moving to another country is one thing.   Being accepted by that country and immersing oneself into the culture is another. Working out acceptances within that culture both as a tall white female as well as working with individuals with disabilities who are shunned from society is also an eye opener into the human psyche.

During my second week I wore a chitenji (African patterned fabric - worn like a skirt) to work.  There were a few comments from the staff that I couldn't quite catch.  When I asked one of the female staff members what was being said she told me that I had done a good thing wearing the chitenji.  I had been placed in a higher regard and was more accepted by the staff.  Note to self wear them more often!

We are currently having Chichewa (language) lessons.  The more often I use basic words the more engaging I find the staff and obviously the clients that come through the door.  It is critical to at least attempt some form of cultural understanding as culture can be a secret weapon that can make extraordinary things happen.

Life in another country always has its interesting and challenging experiences as well as it's 'gold' moments.  This week's gold moment I was trying to practice my Chichewa and in English the sentence was 'My problem is in the shoulder'.  I was quickly told to ensure I say shoulder correctly as I had just said a significant profanity but the information was not divulged as to what I had said just to ensure I never say it again. I was definitely the imbuzi iwe azungu (idiot white person).

I also have almost killed multiple individuals this week.  Road rules are not something that is followed well however you will be beeped at often.  Usually if you are obeying the road rules i.e. stopping at a stop sign or red light!! I need to be careful when I return to Australia!  If only I had a camera whilst driving.  The sights one sees on the back of the bicycles, trucks, cars etc. Many a priceless moment that could only truly be captured by a photo.

On a work perspective seeing amazingly challenging and complex conditions on a daily basis is what I can't wait to get more hands on with.  Whilst my role is predominantly managerial I want to ensure I keep touch with the amazing and challenging conditions so many people face that we in a developed country just don't see or hear about.  The thirst for medical knowledge is shining through.  I am up for the challenge :-)

No comments:

Post a Comment