Katja Lachmann


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Back in Blantyre at 8:20 a.m. in the morning can only bring me to the Internet before I am leaving up "North" to Cape Maclear.

The last three days I spent in Ngabu, a little town in the south of Malawi. It was very hot and dry over there and people are really poor compared to the "vibrant" business life in Blantyre. I loved to be in Ngabu as this was what I always imagined Africa to be about. I really enjoyed the "village" life, although it has been a city that you cannot even find in a map.

I was staying with some friends including all three ASA girls from Blantyre. The first day we did not have to do more than every day: cooking, chating, sleeping ;) Ah! Of course, we were also out for a 5-minutes walk around the house. We needed to rest as the trip from Nkholokosa (near Blantyre) to Ngabu was quite stressy. Firstly, two hours squeezed in a mini-bus, then changing to a big truck in Nchalo that took a long time to leave, we were even more squeezed here and became not only very dirty, but extremely dirty during the trip. As the road the druck was choosing was made of a mixture of dark and red sand, I could not recognize much difference between us and the locals afterwards. When arriving we did not have water because in "Ngabu Inn", where my friends live (they are from ASA project, too, it is just a different one, about agriculture & marketing), you only have a few hours water supply a day. Anyway, short after arriving we went to a local family, as there is one local woman working with the two ASA girls on making the developing project a success. We bought some food, prepared it and ate altogether Nsima (kind of maize porridge that you can form with your hands) with Rallish. This is a very common local food that you eat with fingers. It is very tasty but terribly hot!

Passing the first day, the second was a bit boring for me. Just because I could not participate in the ministry meeting the girls had with the minister of agriculture in that region. They wanted me to come with them, but we were told there is no space in the car. Thus I accepted, stayed, relaxed, drew, took shower, ate...and went for a walk to buy food. It was a bit difficult as the shop was closed. Thus we waited expecting the shop to open soon. After half an hour we decided first to go shopping on the local market, buying tomatoes, bananas, nuts, onions etc. and then to come back buying peanut butter, toilet paper etc. We came back, but the shop was still closed. Thus we did it like the locals, sitting on a bench in the shadow and wait. When we decided to leave and come back later with bicycles to buy what we need, the owner of the shop came around the corner...;)

Yesterday, two of the Blantyre-ASA-girls went back to Blantyre and Angela and me stayed one more day in Ngabu. We got the opportunity to go with the ASA-girls from Ngabu to a small village, watching their research on agriculture. It was very interesting to be in the middle of such village, meeting the chief of the village, watching the interviews being lead by the ASA-girls for the research, getting to know the difficulties in translating and the near impossible task to get to know what the women being interviewed really said...It is hard work! I loved to be so close with the locals, to see how they live and which difficulties they face. They are lovely to watch when they smile. It seems for me that they are so rich, what does not mean they have enough to live, far away from that. I am talking about their proud, their behaviour, their personalities, their smiles...how they manage life. I have a lot of respect to them.