Saturday, January 30th, was yet another perspective altering day for me, thanks to the hospitality of my house night guard *, Denzioh, who travels 12 miles each evening on his bicycle from his village to where I live in Zomba. For the past couple of weeks he has been telling me about his home village of Tambala in the Zomba District and how they are struggling because of the “climate change” induced lack of rainfall. Malawians depend on healthy crops of maize to make their staple food, nsima.
The nexus of maize, climate change, and hunger is a severe problem for Malawians now. But rather than just reading about it in the news, I am here to hear about it first-hand from people I see everyday and have grown fond of. Poverty and hunger look quite different when you are face-to-face with it and your own wealth by comparison is absurdly incongruent.
Denzioh lives about 12 miles from from my home and uses his bicycle for transport. He earns 25,000 MKW (Malawi kwacha) a month ($36 USD) and a 50kg bag of maize flour (which will feed a family of four for a month) costs an inflated price by private traders of 15,000 MKW ($20 USD). He tries to supplement the difference with his own crops, but the lack of rainfall has not been in his favor. Denzioh is a snap shot of the population in this country who live in this realm of struggle.
I am teaching in a “developing” country and until I had the opportunity to come here as a Fulbright Scholar, I did not know what that truly meant. The University of Malawi Chancellor’s College is doing such an amazing job with higher education in the midst of these severe economic and environmental obstacles (read about the army worms).
Here are some candid shots of a local “market” and the children who were fascinated by my taking pictures of them and letting them see their images so immediately:
From my car with my camera I am worlds away from the people I try to understand and teach . . .
Because of the poverty, there is the threat of home invasions and petty theft. The University of Malawi has provided me with both a full-time day guard and a full-time night guard.