I’ve never enjoyed moving and last year December was no exception. The decision to move back home after 20 plus years was a hard one but I was ready. My life as I knew it in the USA was over. I needed to start a new chapter of my life and home is where I needed to be.
I have an old T-shirt from the 90’s which reads “there’s no hurry in Africa”. Everything seems to move at a very slow pace here. I’ve learned not to slow down for those who don’t value their time.
When I’m asked what it is I do I fail to answer. The truth of the matter is, though I’m now a cake baker there’s plenty other activities that keep me busy.
Initially I had set up an NGO which never worked out. I came home to the realization that I didn’t feature anywhere. My role it seemed was to give ideas while others took the center stage. That was when I decided to shut up which frustrated some in the organization. I later found out that that’s the nature of most Malawians; you do most of the work and they take the credit.
After meetings with some in the organization , I was told that I needed to watch how I talked to African men. They (African men) were to be addressed with “respect “. I politely told them that if I had to watch how I talked to any of them then we’d get nothing done and that attitude was ok in their homes and not at work! I needed to know the how’s, when’s, what’s and the ifs of how the institution was run. I was accused of not trusting them of which I was guiltily of. We were there for the people in need and not the administration!
Being submissive in the work place or otherwise was not for me so I decided to walk away from it. I have never regretted that decision!
While I understand that having an organization is important for fundraising and accountability purposes, I however have done just fine working alone. 100% of money donated by well wishers has made it to the hands of the needy. When I receive the funds through either western union/moneygram or my bank account I make sure the donated money is deposited in the donors name into either the university tuition and fees or charity organizations accounts. Records of receipts are kept with me while pics of the receipts are scanned and sent to the donors electronically.
Months down the road flying solo, gloves were donated to Queens with a promise of more on the way.
One other project I’m also trying to do is to raise funds for kids living with HIV/Aids in the Blantyre area who I spend time with. There are over 300 and in need of money for activities, education and more. It’s a great challenge and I have hope that some well wishers will come forward to help.
Lastly, I’d like to share some of the lessons I’ve learned in the past year:
1) If you happen to have good people in your life hold don’t ever take them for granted. You never know when you’ll need a push, a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear or those who will encourage and love you no matter what you’re going through in life.
There’s an old Malawian saying that goes “apawo ndi mizu yakachere amakumana pansi”. The English saying that’s close to the one I’ve just quoted is “blood is thicker than water”.
I’ve made it this past year because of the few I can say are my true friends. Sadly, my most of my family members didn’t make it on that list!
2)Time management is very important or you get nothing done. Divide your time equally or accordingly prioritizing the important jobs first!!
Time is money. I don’t waste time where I know I won’t get the results I’m looking for. Some people just make noise but won’t deliver. Target those who will help out.
3) Forgiveness. Alot has been said about and done to me. If I dwell on it I’ll get nothing done. Forgive and move on! Life won’t wait for you..
4) Trust is hard to come by! Be wise in how we choose our friends! We have too many fake people around. Those who make most noise about whom you should and shouldn’t trust are the ones who’ll likely be the first to disappoint you.
6) Learn to adapt. Pay attention to those around you. Watch and learn before you react. I’ve spent one whole year doing just that and I’m still learning. Malawi is a totally different world from where I came from and hard as it may be, it’s a livable environment. One thing I’m trying my hardest is not to feed the monster called corruption!
7) Improvise. It’s not all here but there’s different ways of doing things; make use of them. My laptop quit on me so I wrote this piece on my iPhone. For my cakes, there’s not many places to get supplies so you learn to substitute and use what’s available. It doesn’t give you many choices but you get by.
8) It’s a tough world out here! Malawi is one of the most expensive countries to live in. Not many have disposable incomes. If you’re in business or would like to invest, it’d be wise to do a thorough research before pouring money into any project. One good thing is that opportunities are many.
8) Be true to yourself. Keeping up with the Joneses attitude is what kills most businesses and people here. Do it your way. You don’t know what your neighbor had to go through to have that Benz. Cashgate is a true testimony/reminder of that, so, live within your means!
9) Wherever possible offer your help. It doesn’t have to be financial and I’m a good example of that. I connect people where I can. It’s doesn’t take much to put a smile on anyone’s face.
10) Learn which battles to fight! The image of a clean house is better than one with clutter. Don’t load yourself with extra baggage of stress, anger and many more. Be happy, give and most of all, LIVE LIFE TO THE FULLEST!
Lastly, be true to yourself. I know me, I’m comfortable with me, I understand me better than others. Follow your dreams, your convictions and do so with integrity.
It may not be all rosy and beautiful for some but I’m living my life my way and I’m happy…for the most part looking forward to the next 20 plus years.
Happy new year…