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January 14, 2022

50th Anniversary of JOCV Program in Malawi - A Piece of Memory "My Extraordinary Daily Life in Malawi"

Name: Msukwa (Tokutake) Nohara
Batch: FY2016-3 (11 Jan. 2017-10 Jan. 2019)
Technical Field: Community Development
Host Organization: Chikangawa Extension Planning Area
Hometown in Japan: Nagano City, Nagano

A Piece of Memory: "My Extraordinary Daily Life in Malawi"

PhotoThe day I went to pick up firewood with the children in Chikangawa

Chikangawa is located between northern Mzimba and Mzuzu, and its characteristics are high altitude, and lots of rain and fog. Life in this area was in an environment where they "have" electricity and water, but even though it was supposed to be a rainy region, water came out from the faucet outside the house only several times in the period of two years I was there. Rainwater was used for daily life, and when this was gone, people chatted casually around the common faucet, and when water stopped here, people went down to the valley to draw water and climbed up the cliff, carrying the water on their heads.

I hardly purchased electrical appliances, since I was going to be here "only for 2 years" and because I would "be unable to dispose of them if they got broken" (considering that in Japan, broken appliances may be disposed at a landfill at the end, but Malawi does not have a garbage disposal plant). Therefore, I think all I purchased were lamps, a mobile phone, and a battery charger for my PC. Come to think of it, I feel that Malawi is reusing and repairing parts more in comparison to Japan. I used a mbaula (a cooking stove like a Japanese shichirin) to cook and used charcoal to heat up the food and keep myself warm (I used blankets at night throughout the year!).

I made a small field in the garden from where I was able to pick some vegetables. I raised chicken and got eggs, which I processed myself at the end. I burned my own garbage, went to the market to buy ingredients each time I cooked, and bought freshly processed goat meat sold by the weight in the neighborhood.

Ever since the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, I dreamed of a "life in coexistence with nature," so my life in Chikangawa was an extraordinary life compared to my daily life in Japan. Being able to carry on my daily life in Malawi for two years feels like a precious memory when I think of it right now.

After completing my assignment as a JOCV member, I came back to Malawi to improve and maintain a Malawian souvenir shop that I started as part of my activities and had a chance to get married and have a baby last year.

Life in Malawi, which was not limited to two years, sometimes makes me miss my daily life in Japan, but also makes me feel comfortable in Malawi. I cannot discard both lives, and I may sound half-hearted, but I feel again that I want to live my life valuing both.

Next, I will hand the baton to Ryosuke Shimizu (Community Development) from batch FY2016-1, who returned to Malawi after completing his volunteer period in JOCV like me.

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