Number 5: Cheese costs More than what I make in a Month— This may be a slight exaggeration but it is $20 USD for a block of mediocre cheddar. In fact, ask any expat what their top 3 annoyances about living in Malawi are and undoubtedly one of those annoyances will be the lack in availability of affordably priced, delicious cheese. If you’re a cheese lover (and who isn’t?) then you’ll be disappointed to find your pickings slim and prices astronomical.
Number 4: Poverty— Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. Therefore, it goes without saying that there is severe poverty almost everywhere you look. It may sound weird to feature this on a reason why living in Malawi is difficult, but it’s true. Have you ever witnessed another human being literally crawling around the center of town, in the busiest streets because that’s the only mobility they have?
As a human being seeing another human being in this state makes your heart feel physically sick—I’m not kidding, it throbs! The sad thing is, if you’re not careful, you become complacent about what’s going on around you. Many people live in a walled-in complexes and houses where they don’t have to address other people’s problems if they don’t want to, myself included. It takes effort to stay grounded and aware and to consistently pray for others.
Number 3: Traffic— For the amount of people that live in Blantyre and the price of buying a vehicle, it’s surprising how congested the roads are. In fact, to travel 5 miles, about the distance from Saint Andrew’s High School to our home, it takes us thirty minutes (granted, it IS lunch time). There seems to always be something blocking the roads: a broken down semi, the President coming through (the entire city stops), or a mini-parade usually with an indiscernible purpose, walking down the highway being escorted by the police…if you can imagine, this causes some blockage! Mike and I once were in the car for an entire hour and had only made it a few miles out; the whole city of Blantyre and Limbe were at standstills. Yuck.
Number 2: Friends, they are a Changin’— Most people don’t stay in Blantyre for long. In fact, on average the time spent here is between 3-6 months and at most a year. With Mike and me being here for three years it makes it difficult to find, build, and keep relationships with people. In June alone we lost several friends who are moving onto other locations or going back to their home countries. As soon as you get to know someone…they’re gone! This makes the process of finding genuine friends difficult.
AND drumroll please….The number 1 reason it’s difficult leaving in Blantyre is….
Number 1: We Miss Our Families— In case this wasn’t obvious…the number one reason it’s difficult to live here is because we miss our families (and friends) constantly. While we’re thankful for the technology we have that allows us to keep in contact with them (Viber, Skype, email, etc.) it still doesn’t make it much easier.
It was even harder for us knowing that David, our first baby, and on my side the first grandchild, was going to be born here without our families. As a female never having gone through birth before I was terrified.
Luckily, we’ve been able to debut David via Skype to both sides of our families and as soon as he was born Mike was out calling everyone on Viber telling them the beautiful news. It may sound crazy, but in ways, this distance has caused all of us to grow closer and when we get to go on vacation we get uninterrupted time with BOTH sides of our families.
So, there you have it. The Top 10 things that make living in “The Warm Heart of Africa” Difficult. Wait, are you surprised? I didn’t address water shortages (we went without water for 4 weeks once), and I didn’t mention power outages (was only ever slightly annoying).
The reason I chose the Top 10 I did is because Mike and I live in an area now, called Namiwawa (Nahm-E-Wah-Wah) where we don’t have power outages and we rarely run out of water, it’s fantastic; we are truly blessed! But, this is Malawi, this is Africa and truthfully, it’s not bad. In fact, Mike and I really enjoy ourselves here and we’re blessed to have the experiences we have.