Van about town! The Church in Lilongwe owns a van, or as some call them a "vanette." I'm not sure what the technical term is, but it's basically a cross between a minivan and a small bus (it seats 12). This will be our main mode of transportation for the coming year. Haiton, who knows this van better than anyone else, helped immensely by giving me a few pointers about driving in Malawi, and about navigating a vanette through pothole infested side roads and back alleys where no car was meant to go. It has been very different driving on the opposite side of the road than I was previously used to. I have to think about it immediately when I begin so I don't forget. It helps that there are usually other drivers on the roads who I can follow. But often people cross over to the other side while avoiding the potholes or cyclists and pedestrians carrying enormous loads on their heads, backs, bicycles, etc. so it is also easy to forget which side of the road I am supposed to be on.
This week we had the experience of doing some shopping for wholesale items with two of the ladies who work at the LifeNets office
I've learned (so far) that groceries are much cheaper at local produce markets - again I got funny looks from most walking through a local market in a slum area. The mangos in Malawi taste amazing so far. The avocados not so much, although I think they may have been picked too late. I've also learned that there are a lot of people trying to make what little money they can, and some are very persistent. People sell paintings, beg for change, carve wood, sell small trinkets and stickers, offer rides on the back of their bicycle, and some have sob stories about their lack of food and lack of work
We can't help them all, no matter how much money they think we have to spend. I always appreciate when someone is willing to work to make or sell something or to provide a service if they are capable. That isn't always the case. But in some cases there is absolutely a willingness to put in a full day worth of hard work. This week I saw some of the working conditions of weldors and mechanics. They set up shop between houses, on the side of the road, no doors or roof and sometimes only the ground beneath them to work upon.
On the Streets of Lilongwe
Friday, January 13, 2017
Lilongwe, Central Region, Malawi