First blog for team COWHLA Walero (COWLHA of today) this cycle! After spending our first week in Lilongwe for culture and language orientation, we have now started our placement in Chikhwawa. We moved in with our host families, and although sometimes challenging, being in a host home has allowed us to experience a wider knowledge of Malawian culture. Our families have been extremely welcoming and seem very happy to be hosting us for the next eight weeks. We have also practiced using basic Chichewa (the local language) with our host families and in-country volunteers. One of the ICVs said that ‘by the end, hopefully the UKVs will have learnt the full content of our language’.
Our first day on placement we were introduced to COWLHA. This is the organisation we will be working with for the time we are here. Their aim is to improve the lives of women and children living with HIV and AIDS in Malawi. We had a two day orientation from COWLHA who gave us a briefing on HIV and AIDS. This included learning about the stigma and discrimination surrounding HIV and AIDS, child therapy and peer pressure amongst young people. After our orientation was complete, we then spent the rest of the week completing a work plan for the rest of the cycle.
Towards the end of the week we went on an outreach to visit some of the COWLHA members who have been badly affected by the severe flooding in January. To hear more about this please wait for another blog which will come shortly.
So far we have been very busy and have a lot more planned for the upcoming weeks. As well as settling into Malawian life, we are also starting to embrace their culture and are learning a lot as we go along!