I find myself back in Malawi, the warm heart of Africa, working again for 500 miles (www.500miles.co.uk).
My heart is happy as I walk through the door to familiar faces, clients anticipating the new sense of freedom and independence that orthotics and prosthetics bring to the individual, their families and the wider community.
This time being here is different. So many changes yet so many things the same. The opportunity for me to enhance the service delivery and build capacity is overwhelming yet it feels like home. These types of roles is where I am meant to be . Creating change, impacting the lives of those less fortunate but immersing myself within the culture, all be it minimally. There is a long way to go and determining what can be achieved and sustained within a short time frame will be challenging. But I am up for it!
My Chichewa is rusty but slowly coming back. New phrases and the linguistics of it all rolling over my tongue bring me closer to being able to understand culturally and individually the necessities both for those within the clinic, staff and the wider community. Friends and colleagues teaching me new phrases that at some point I will use correctly! Grass roots is where it is at!
But it's not all work and no play. Within a few days of being in the country I managed to attend amazing feasts cooked by friends of old, fundraisers for Dzaleka refugee camp (where I also won a mini break to Likoma Island), mini trip south and have caught up with mentors and life long friends ensuring that the work life balance is almost complete.
There are new places, new infrastructure yet poverty and lack of amenities are still so prevalent. My saving grace is that I only appear to have power cuts 2 nights a week - this I can plan for! A structured powercut week means some planning has been established - small wins! I am slowly becoming a whiz at one pot dishes with my 'cute' kitchen providing me with the basics required for wholesome cooking.
The next few weeks ahead have a multitude of work challenges yet in between is a mini break at the beloved Lake Malawi in Senga Bay.
Stay tuned for more stories!