Bobbie was the people watcher of the TMC team, so she wrote up some of her observations about the culture…
(Bobbie Roberts) Lilongwe is a city filled with so many differences that opened our teams’ eyes to a whole different culture. Coming from America it was easy to pick out what seemed so unusual to our normal life. At first it is easy to see the poverty in the everyday life whether it be kids walking without shoes, carrying a ball they made with plastic bags while wearing dirty torn clothes or adults using their bikes to carry heavy loads in anyway a bike will let the items be stacked. Just the city in general looks dusty, but then again not in a way that looks trashy to me. There are people on the sides of the roads sweeping with branches trying to keep the city decent and you can tell that the people really try their best to live in a community that is as best as it can be.
Poverty is the first thing I noticed and after a week I started watching people and noticed that I never saw any pregnant women. I asked Rachel Floreen why this was and she explained that women don’t go out in public when they are pregnant because they believe that someone may curse their child out of jealousy, so they stay at home. Many Malawians believe in witch doctors and so it reflects on their lives. I also noticed that all I saw was male beggars that were disabled and Rachel said these men rather beg than get help from an NGO, which is available to them. Women are less likely to beg because they are hard workers and can earn money by working in the kitchen or finding something they can do to live off of. These are just two examples that describe a little about the culture shock I experienced. Not to worry though I have learned so much from how Malawians interact with everyone.
Malawians are very friendly people and have a genuine care for others. When they say “How are you?” they really want to know how you are doing and the one thing that really made my day was when you wave to someone, they wave right back with a huge smile. It doesn’t matter if it’s an adult or a kid – they always love a wave or a hello because in their culture they love being personable, which will never get old. Being respectful is very important in their culture and in that they have a servant’s heart. They go out of their way to do something for others not because they have to or because they will get something out of it, but because they love to help.