Back from Blantyre

I am back from BT. I spent two and a half weeks in Malawi’s biggest city.

I started off in snowy Zurich with some delay. There was a long and slow queue of aircrafts waiting for de-icing. The transparent and open explanations by the Lufthansa captain, at the beginning and throughout the delay, were great – a lesson in communications. In Munich the entire airport was in quiet mode due to Christmas Eve celebrations. After another de-icing session, the plane took off for Joburg. I sat next to a young South African student who is studying medicine in Warsaw. Made for an interesting conversation. After a smooth flight, I learned that my flight to Blantyre was already boarding. No time to stock up on books and magazines at my favourite airport book store. I was the second last person to board the plane. And the first to go through customs at Chileka airport, cos my bag was the first on the conveyor belt.

Driving towards Blantyre on Chileka Road, my eyes rested on the familiar mountain outlines of Ndirande and Michiru. It has been raining regularly and everything is green.

In the afternoon on Christmas Day, I took part in a Christmas carol service at Chombo Children’s Home in Chirimba. Afterwards my mom presented gifts to the 47 children that live at Chombo. This year all children received a school bag filled with books and sweets.

BTW, I have become the unofficial official photographer of Chombo. Snapshots from my previous visits are available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/chombo-mission/sets/.
I spent the next couple of weeks shopping for Chombo, driving sick children to hospital, helping out with simple admin tasks.

I persuaded my mom to try a TNM USB mobile internet modem, since her current email via telephone dial-up is unreliable and slow. Downloading 451 kB takes over 8 minutes:

28,8 kBits/s

schnell-download
waiting for 451 KB to download…

And many of her European and American and South African contacts don’t reduce the size of their attachments, sending their photos in original size. Because we have fast flat rates. Internet is ubiquitous.

Please consider my previous blog post on re-sizing images. Many people in Malawi pay lots of US$ for every kilobyte and megabyte they receive. Many connect to the Internet via their smartphone.

Or don’t have any connection for days.

By chance I read Vincent Kumwenda’s “Letter to the Editor” in The Nation:

@kristungati on Airtel's network failure in Muloza

I wonder how much the re-branding from Celtel to Zain to Airtel has cost / will cost.

airtel

I managed to read three novels. And I enjoyed listening to BBC radio. One particular interview with the actor Michael Caine impressed me. Caine described how many fellow actors tried to discourage him, how he was physically sick before going out on stage, and how he met his wife. He referred to a Winston Churchhill quote:

If you are going through hell, keep going.

I need to add BBC to my podcast lists.

My dad has two young mischief puppy dogs that love to play and chew and jump.

the puppies

The flight back was uneventful. I sat next to a lady from Oslo that had visited Plan projects in Zimbabwe. She was quite impressed and thinks Zimbabwe will mend fast.

My contributions to the Chichewa group on Flickr.

My contributions to the Malawi group on Flickr.

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