By Dr. Deborah Walker
Mountains of all types and sizes on this trip…we all face them – we all climb them at one point or another.
One very small mountain for me this week (in comparison to everyone else’s) – I had to prepare and deliver a lecture on breast cancer. Seems pretty straight forward, since this is what I do and have done for the past 15 years, right? Not so much. How do tell someone screening for breast cancer could save your life, when there are no mammogram machines around? How do you teach someone self-breast exam, when fear is in control? How do you tell someone there are some options, when they really have no access to them? I gave the lecture. I would like to think that we learned from each another.
Friday I headed south to Blantyre. Everyone tells me that it is 3.5 hour drive. The many times that I have traveled this way, I have yet to make it in 3.5 hours. We left at 11:45a and made it at 5:15pm. You have to go over and through mountains, through congested villages and markets and through multiple road blocks. But we (there were 5 of us) made it. One gentleman in the car with me was Francisco, a 23 year old, 4th year nursing student. We had plenty of time to talk about nursing and all of the mountains that he has climbed. He is the first of 6 children in his family, so he has a lot of responsibility. He was telling me that he is the first in his clan to attend college, but he hopes his brothers and sisters follow in his footsteps. He is interested in pediatrics, but really he doesn’t get to choose where he works when he is done. The government usually “post” nurses in various clinics when they get out of school, wherever the need is greatest. He would like to eventually end up back in his village. He told me about life in Malawi and was a great tour guide throughout the trip. Thanks Francisco for a fun trip and making the time go quickly!
I met up with Lynda Wilson in Blantyre for the weekend. We were able to do some sightseeing on Saturday. We went to Mulanje Mountain and did some hiking with a tour guide Alex and our driver Richard.
We were told that the hike up the mountain to the waterfall was about 45 minutes. That is 45 minutes Malawi time. (Lesson here: always double the time). Anyway, it took quite some time and up some treacherous terrain. We made it!! It was so worth it! The beautiful views of the Malawi landscape and the tea plantations along the valley were breath taking. The pictures don’t do it justice!
I made it back to Lilongwe after a busy morning in Blantyre on Monday (only 4 hour trip this time).
I took some pictures around town…the flowers are just beautiful, so I can’t help but to take some pictures. No one seems to know the names of them though…maybe a green thumb reading this can help me out with the names?? Anyway, enjoy the photos….more later!.