After a 32 hour journey, we arrived in Mzuzu to be welcomed by the Brothers of St John of God at their home. Our first evening involved sharing local produce from our respective countries. We are now all firm fans of guava jam and wine! We will be staying with the Brothers for the next week.
Our first day was a busy one – we shared breakfast with the Brothers before sitting down to watch the news, which included a piece on the First Lady of Malawi visiting St John of God the previous day. It was lovely to see lots of familiar faces! We then headed to the St John of God centre for an early start. Although we hadn’t prearranged any meetings, everybody was welcoming and extremely keen to help and make time for us – our most heard phrase of the day was “you’ll find me when you need me”. By 9am we were sat with Charles, the Director, discussing our plans for our future collaborations.
During the day we visited many of the services to say hello to old friends and meet new ones. This included some therapeutic dancing at the House of Hospitality and around 6 miles of walking (which made a nice contrast to the day before!)
We spent lunch with Devlin and had interesting discussions about mental health in Malawi and the UK. Devlin reflected on the increase of materialism and wondered whether this linked to higher rates of substance misuse and psychological difficulties. He spoke of the ‘emptiness of looking forwards’ in a society which values material goods and quick gains, which he though had led to a loss of patience and resilience.
The conversations and experiences we have had today have left us feeling welcomed and excited for the remainder of our trip, and for our future work here in Malawi.
We’ll check back in soon – internet allowing!