A Travellerspoint blog

Malawi

Malawi post Madonna

a culture growing too dependent on foreigners

sunny 70 °F
View A Rough Outline of our Trip on daveliz's travel map.


One fifth of Malawi's landscape is made up of Lake Malawi, which is 500 kilometers long. Locals call it “the Lake of Stars.”  It is the third largest lake in Africa and has more fish species than any other lake in the world with around 600 different species.

One fifth of Malawi's landscape is made up of Lake Malawi, which is 500 kilometers long. Locals call it “the Lake of Stars.” It is the third largest lake in Africa and has more fish species than any other lake in the world with around 600 different species.


MALAWI is a country I had never heard of until Madonna adopted a child from there, and I gather I was not alone, as tourism has become popular in the last few years. To understand Malawi's culture you have to understand the impact AIDS and malaria has had on the country. In the 90's, more than 80% of the adult population was wiped out from the two diseases, resulting in a nation full of orphans. (Our information is from our tour guide, so many not be completely statistically accurate.)

Children often care for younger siblings.

Children often care for younger siblings.


Since many children grow up without parental role models, social skills and maturity levels are lower than what one would expect of a person the same age in another country. Education is free, but not mandatory. We visited one school that was rundown with rooms consisting of little more than a chalk board. We learned one teacher is responsible for roughly 150 students. As a result, work skills necessary to operate much of Malawi's industry, government and education system are also lagging behind.

In Malawi kids just want to hold your hand or touch you. The kids would claim you as their own and push others away from stealing you. We were told that their elders tell them that foreigners are wealthy and it might rub off on them.

In Malawi kids just want to hold your hand or touch you. The kids would claim you as their own and push others away from stealing you. We were told that their elders tell them that foreigners are wealthy and it might rub off on them.


Malawi children embrace their local dance.

Malawi children embrace their local dance.


We visited Chitimba and Kande Beach where we took a village tour. Unfortunately, it was less about educating us about daily life and traditions, and more about asking us for money. The culture of begging is exhausting in Africa. After talking to many locals and volunteer workers from western organizations, including the Peace Corps, we strongly believe in sustainable tourism and charity services that help enable people to help themselves.

IMG_4883-14.jpg

Giving money, especially to children, simply makes the problem worse by creating more dependence.

It is common to see kids selling food on the street, even during a typical school day, to help their family earn some money.

It is common to see kids selling food on the street, even during a typical school day, to help their family earn some money.


Instead, donations or loans put directly towards education, health care and business makes money go much further. Dave is a fan of Kiva, www.kiva.org. It is also valuable for people with labor and domestic skills to donate their services to teach others. This would empower people in places likes Malawi villages to provide for themselves, their families and community.

Workers at a maize plant make food for people in the village. Maize is a main stay of most meals. It is thick and starchy, often served like mashed potatoes or porridge.

Workers at a maize plant make food for people in the village. Maize is a main stay of most meals. It is thick and starchy, often served like mashed potatoes or porridge.


In the last decade, the Malawi government has provided more funding and education to eradicate the problems of AIDS and malaria. However, most locals still prefer to visit a witch doctor before going to a hospital if they have health concerns. Plus, the hospital we visited was bare bones, with little technology and only one nurse on site. People have to travel nearly two hours to the big city to see a medical doctor.

A few other notes on Malawi:
Locals love a good board game, and they are experts at making wood crafts and games.

A common Malawi board game, Boa.

A common Malawi board game, Boa.


They love music.

Dave tries his hand at African drumming.

Dave tries his hand at African drumming.


And,

Did you know rubber comes from trees? Malawi is full of smelly and sticky rubber tree farms.

Did you know rubber comes from trees? Malawi is full of smelly and sticky rubber tree farms.


- Elizabeth

Posted by daveliz 05:26 Archived in Malawi Comments (2)

(Entries 1 - 1 of 1) Page [1]