Cooking My Way Through The Pandemic

Hi loves! I hope you had a good Thursday and if not, I hope reading this post will make you feel better.

I come from a family of people who love to cook. My grandma makes a mean chicken stew! and my sister actually cooks for a living! If you have any event be it a wedding, workshop, training, birthdays in Lilongwe, then she’s your girl. She goes by Didi’s Kitchen. Here are her contacts!

For your catering needs!

I, on the other hand, am so lazy I can’t manage to cook for people when they want me to. I am more of a cooking because I want to kind of person. I cook at my own time really and I cannot express how much I enjoy cooking. Here are some three reasons why I am cooking my through this pandemic.

  • Cooking gives me Joy!

There are so many things that people do to get out of their minds and I cook. For example, when a boy I like is not giving me attention or him and I fought or I just low key hate him at that time, I find my way to the kitchen. Ridiculous huh! Nope! If I had a long day at work or had a fall out with a friend or family the kitchen is the room I go to. When life is throwing me all these things at me be it stress, loss, anxiety, you name it, or even wins, I take these things and create a bomb meal out of all these emotions. Cooking gives me so much joy that I cannot find anywhere else. You have no idea how much making a sandwich makes me happy. Sandwiches are actually my specialty. I love making those bad boys and boy do they taste delish!

Grilled cheese sandwich
  • Comfort food

I have trouble with comforting people when they are down. I am compassionate and empathetic, but for me to find the right words that will soothe them is a bit difficult for me. The only thing I can do for my loved ones is to make them some comfort food.

Sticky chicken wings

Food is my love language and putting a smile on someone’s face after they have eaten something delicious fulfils my soul. I have been cooking my way through the pandemic and into people’s hearts. I feel like people should be able to give what they can. Some are great with words; you may be sad one minute and they will only have to say one or two sentences and your face lights up. your heart feels so much better and warm after hearing their words. Others are gifted with humour. You may be in the middle of a tear-jerking party and they just crack one joke and you find yourself laughing so loud you forget what hurt you in the first place. And then there’s me who gives people food to make them feel better. Use what you can.

  • I am a Foodie!

Raise your hand if you get cranky when you are hungry and get back to normal when there is a plate of food in front of you! You’re not alone. There is actually an army of us out there. My love for food is what gets me in the kitchen. I crave for something and I make it. I see a new recipe on social media, I try it out. I like to play my taste buds and satisfying my cravings. When you hear music in my kitchen just know something cooking is going to be delicious. The music distracts me and put me in a good mood to cook. I am one of those people that never tire to prepare a one person meal.

Pancakes

For me, the thing that I love most above cooking is the thrill of making something out of ordinary ingredients. Sometimes I make food and I don’t even eat it. I give it to my friends. The two hours or 10 minutes I spend to prepare a meal or a snack gets me out of my head and puts me in a bubble where I find so much peace its incredible! You don’t have to be a great cook to love cooking. I am also learning. Think of the process more than the outcome itself. Lord knows how many pancakes I have burned before making the perfect ones!

My first attempt at making quesadillas. Not perfect!

If you are looking for something to keep you busy when you are stressed, bored or just trying to find a new hobby, Google a recipe of your favourite meal, play around with what you have and watch yourself kick ass in the kitchen! It’s refreshing. You can also be cooking your way through this pandemic!

I made Kambuzi chilli sauce when I was bored 😂

All my love,

Carol.

2020: 366 of 366

What Worked For Me

It almost sounds like a joke that we are actually at the very end of the year that seemed so long yet went by so fast. 2020 has brought about a lot of trauma, sorrow, happiness, uncertainty and a lot of mixed emotions!

If you are to ask me how today makes me feel, I’ll let my anxiety speak for me. Not ready! Scared! I feel like I am taking a risk just by being here today and waiting for the clock to strike 12, hoping I will not lose my glass slipper and make it to 2021 on time. You see, so many of us are eager to end the year. It is a mutual feeling all over the world and all we can do is be hopeful that the year ahead will be less virulent.

Today I want to talk about the 5 things that I held onto throughout the year. I have to say these things helped to keep me my humanity in check.

1. Therapy

Growing up in a culture that does not talk about depression and mental health, I never pictured myself seeing a psychotherapist at all! Malawians think mental health is a taboo topic and that depression is a white people disorder. Matenda azungu amenewo! This mentality has cost us so many lives and it is very sad seeing the suicide rates increasing rapidly. Mental health is equally important as physical health and needs to be treated accordingly. Those strong friends and family members of yours need to be checked on regularly. We are battling demons that we fail to face or talk about because we are afraid that we will be judged, mocked or not taken seriously. We need to do better and be more compassionate.

I lost my friend, Tamiwe, in June, and her death resurrected a lot of trauma that I had suppressed a long time ago. I felt like I was losing my mind. It was so overwhelming I didn’t think I could handle it. So, I got help. Therapy opened up new doors for me in terms of my psychological wellbeing. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Am I healed? Healing is a gradual process and it takes time. Some days I feel really good and mentally sound, other days I feel like I am back to zero. It’s quite tricky. The first step to healing is acknowledging that you have a problem. If we continue to lie to ourselves that we are okay, we are only hurting ourselves. Suppressing trauma is only postponing the healing and not actually healing itself. It will always come back to bite and either way, we still have to face it and begin our journey of healing.

For those of us going through a difficult time with no one to talk to, here is a list of mental health experts and their contact details. It’s okay to not be okay

2. Binge watching my favourite shows

For those of you that have been following my posts on social media know how much I am obsessed with FRIENDS the television show. It is the comedy show that I can watch all day every day. It makes me so happy. I also started binge watching the 17 Seasons of Grey’s Anatomy a few months ago any chance I get. The McFamily has grown on me and I am currently on season 12. These shows helped me shut down the world and I was in my own bubble, crying every episode of Grey’s Anatomy and laughing when watching FRIENDS. Its amazing how a show can make you get through difficult times. It worked for me.

3. Work

My job is another thing that kept me on track. In March, when COVID-19 hit, we resorted to remote working. It was weird working at home and required a lot of discipline. No supervisor watching me, no one to answer to and no one to go disturb or crack a few jokes with was hard. Lucky enough, some of my colleagues who lived nearby would pop up once in a while to check up on me and we would forget the world was in a pandemic. The regular zoom calls for check ins and meetings also really helped.

Even though we were all going through a difficult time, we still stayed connected and made sure each one of us was doing well. When the measures were lifted, we had a pile of work to catch up on and that was how I kept myself busier than I was. Working really kept me in check and I couldn’t have made it this far without my colleagues

4. Friends and Family

Some of my family members are in other countries where the pandemic was at its peak. Fearing for their lives was so stressful and we thank God they were safe. This was the time I really thanked technology. Phone calls and video chats was what kept us all going. The family group chats and hourly long chats with my friends and family really kept me going. We would share recipes everyday and my family really loves to cook. It was a way that kept us all together remotely. The recipes, music, stories and updates on what the world is going through from family and friends was very helpful. I used this as an opportunity to develop my cooking skills and I must say, it really paid off.

5. Social Media

Give Mark Zuckerberg and his friends the flowers that they deserve for creating social media. I swear social media keeps me sane. My favourite apps this year have been Twitter, TikTok and WhatsApp (this is mostly just for staying in touch with loved ones) but Twitter is up there for me. That app contains a lot of content I sometimes fail to keep up. I must admit that I am addicted to that bird app. I go on Twitter when I am having a bad day and completely forget why I was sad in the first place. TikTok and its funny videos have me talking to myself. I make random videos, tweet about all kinds of things and go about my day. It’s remarkable how one can be part of a community with people from all over the world and speak one language.

Social media brought us all together, from protests and marches with hashtags to competitions and music, all the way to dating and counselling all in one platform. The influence of social media is underrated and we must never underestimate the power of the hashtag. It goes a long way. Social media kept me going and memes turned my frown upside down.

These are some of the things that kept me going in the year 2020. What are some of the things that helped you push through the difficult times? Leave a comment below.

Until next time,

Happy 366!

Skin Care

Month number 9 and we’re still here. Kicking the life out of this toxic year. Let us take a minute of silence to the lives we have lost this year. We are thinking of you always 💜

Let’s talk about skin care and what it means to me.

One of the trending topics of manifestation in our lives, (besides money, love and a dream job), on social media is clear skin. Everyone wants a skin without any acne, eczema, black heads, wrinkles or dark spots. We have been influenced so much by what we see on social media and on TV that we think a person who has any skin condition is not considered beautiful. We have become so rotten in our minds such that we even body shame and bully the people who do not have clear skin. I for one can testify for that.

African American Woman Facial Skin Problems. Black Skin Care.. Royalty Free  Cliparts, Vectors, And Stock Illustration. Image 85642510.

I have dark spots on my legs caused by Eczema and I was bullied for it. Eczema is skin condition wherein patches of the skin becomes inflamed, itchy, cracked and/ or rough. It normally starts at a young age when a child is below 5. Sometimes it clears up when children grow while others have it for the rest of their lives. Sometimes it gets bad, other times it goes away. It’s like that toxic boyfriend that comes and goes as he pleases! There is no cure for this condition. In some people it goes away on its own while for many like me it’s a relationship we have till infinity. Doctors mainly recommend antihistamine creams to stop the itching and some creams and ointments to clear the skin.

Stop bullying people for their skin condition!

This was the picture of me that got me bullied.

I mostly react to insect bites such as mosquitoes, flying insects, bugs, ticks (utitili), some insecticides, soaps and even wet grass or plants! My skin reacts instantly when I get in contact with any of these things. It normally starts with an itch then my skin turns red and because the itch just won’t go away it gets deeper and when healing, it leaves a mark. To be honest, I hate it. Do you remember the movie Bubble Boy? It was about a boy who was pretty much allergic to everything, sometimes I wish I was like him, living in a bubble where nothing would come in contact with me to cause a skin reaction. However, I have a very smooth and soft skin all over my body (my skin feels like a baby’s bottom!) and my face doesn’t break out or react the way my arms and legs do.

So, what do I do?

I have tried to use different creams people recommended for my skin. I have used Celton, Eucerin, Bio Oil, Funbact lotion, and many others I can’t even recall. They didn’t work for me. They might work for you though, a lot of people say that they are very good, but not for me.  However, what I did was to observe my skin and notice the things that make me react and things that don’t. Since then, I am aware of what my skin reacts to and what works for me. I always have insect repellent in my bag everywhere I go so that I can apply on my legs and have a bug-free good time outside. I started a new routine earlier this year. I use Detrex soap for bathing, Clear Essence cream for my face (its perfect for me!) and coconut oil mixed with Shea Butter (sometimes EAD cream) for my body. Does it work? Well, its gradual, but I can see some changes and I am patient with my skin, so ask me again in a year. I also use prescribed antihistamine creams from my dermatologist to stop the constant itching. It’s quite embarrassing to scratch yourself all the time.

We all have different skin types and what works for others may not work for you. Some people use Vaseline blue seal and their skin is magical. Other people who have troublesome skin like me need to use different skin products. What I would recommend is; know your skin. Observe what causes reactions and break outs. That is the first step to skin care. You could have allergies caused by some type of food, drink, smell, environment or even the sun. Yes, black people do get sun burned and have allergies as well. If your skin changes coloration when you’re exposed to the sun, get sunscreen. Protect your skin. I also recommend seeing a dermatologist if you have reached a dead end with your skin. These doctors exist for a reason. Use them. I am not going to tell you to drink water and your skin will clear up. Lies! If you are still exposing your skin to some harmful things, it will react, regardless of the water intake. You should, nevertheless, drink water though. It cleans your body and you stay hydrated. There are some thing about our skin that we cannot use creams or oils to get rid of. Embrace them. Love those freckles (Hi Ireen!), stretch marks (Hi Eliana!), that birthmark (Hi Gina!) and all those little things about your skin. I hope you find a skin care routine that works for you. All in all, be kind to your skin. It will reciprocate.

This is Rose whose face rash never seems to go away.

What are your skin care routines that you would like to share? Do you have any stubborn marks on your skin too? Feel free to share in the comment section.

Loss

Greetings my good people

Happy New Month! May the second half of the year be less virulent as the first half has been. We could all use some goodness for the next six months.

The past week has been rough for me. I lost a friend that I was so close to. She was my colleague at work and her name was Tamiwe Kathumba. We both started work the same month (a week apart) and got instantly close. I am now starting to think remote working was God’s way of getting us closer because we were together working at home, all the time. Those of you who knew her know how bubbly and contagious her personality was. She was a social butterfly and a joy to be around. Since she passed, I haven’t been able to express my feelings or show how her death has affected me. I finally managed to let out a few words through a poem. Here is what I had to say

Grief: Coping with the loss of your loved one

You came into our lives like the train of a wedding veil down the aisle
Crept slowly into our hearts turning heads as you pass by
Bells ringing to your brilliance
Melodies of your passion lingering in our heads

You closed your eyes
I thought you would wake up and ask me to make you breakfast
Or some weird food craving that you had that day
Instead we laid roses on your final home
Do you know what you have done?

I am angry
I am hurt
But mostly angry
So that’s it?
Basi wapitadi iwe?
Sindidzakuwonaso ukusekelera?
Ndagoma nayo imfa

Your aura still loiters in my room
I haven’t thrown out your toothbrush
I think maybe you might need it
I managed to fold your clothes
I tucked them away neatly in my suitcase for safe keeping

My bed still has you in it
I can’t sleep there anymore
I am scared
Do you realize what you have done?

Your words are all we have left of you
Your story behind those poems will be told
Your words are still sharp like a sword
So strident they have power to teach our children

You see now, even in death, your purpose is being fulfilled

To touch the hearts of many
To liberate women
To give hope and endurance
To bandage the wounds of the scarred

As you depart from this earth
I pray, you are welcomed by angels
Your voice was rusty, but I hope you get to sing
Hosanna! Hallelujah!

You have become our guardian angel
The brightest star we will see in the sky
A symbol of hope
Refuge

Nthawi yako yakwana
Kapume
Unanyamula zambiri zolemetsa mu mtima mwako
God had to intervene
Mtendere wawupeza
Tidzakumanaso

 

We all grieve and deal with loss differently and healing takes time. Feeling the pain and dealing with it, is the first step towards healing. For those of you who have lost a friend, family, relative or anyone close to you, I feel you. Let it out. Grieve. Cry. Scream. Let it out. It’s not going to let it all disappear but it’s a start. My heart is with you all. I hope you heal.

After Loss, Turning To Poetry For Grief And Healing : NPR

Until next time.

Love,

Caroline

Numb

I haven’t been able to speak
Nor write about how I’m feeling. I thought a pencil and paper were my playground but this, this feeling was too heavy I ended up breaking the pencil

We take things lightly and often say tomorrow is another day. By suppressing our thoughts, worries, fears and love we think we have time. Living for today seems like a chore when it’s all we should ever really count on.

2020; The Road Thus Far

Hello kings and queens,

I hope you are doing the best you can to get through this windy day. Zomba is chilly and a bit windy today. How’s the weather on your end?

girlsack: majaraco: And done! Ref here. Picture of the lovely lady ...

You know, I just realized that we are half way through the year and my mind stopped for a minute. Has it really been that long already? Wild!

This year has been so eventful, I do not even know where to begin. From the nullification of last year’s general elections to the Covid-19 global pandemic, one would think we were in a movie. As if the pandemic was not enough, the world is fighting against racism and people everywhere are matching in solidarity for change. I pray for all the lives that we lost to Covid-19 and racist acts. I hope peace and harmony will be restored just as much as I hope a vaccine for this pandemic will be developed and things can stabilize.

 

As we wait for the vaccine, life as we know it has changed and this is our new normal. From washing hands as we enter shops, offices and clinics to wearing masks and carrying hand hand sanitizers everywhere we go. Taking precautions has become part of our lives and whether we want to practice hygiene or not, it is entirely up to us and how much we value ourselves and the people around us to stop the spread of the pandemic.

Valentine Day Heart Drawing by MLSPcArt on Dribbble

I decided to write something today because in as much as I love to write, I haven’t done it as much as I should. Writing is something that I am passionate about and it calms me down. If you took a walk in my mind you would understand what I mean but this is not the story for today. I was talking about the reason i decided to make a post today. Louisa Msiska wrote a piece on her website about 5 Bloggers from Malawi and I made the cut. Me! You have no idea how much that meant to me. Please check out her blog on her website. She is an incredible writer. Enjoy. https://thelouisamsiska.com

Louisa made me realize how much writing means to me and more importantly how it makes my readers happy every time i post something new. So i am challenging myself to blogging every week starting today. Wish me luck!

Anyway, back to 2020 shenanigans. Personally, the first half of the year hasn’t been that bad. I got a new job and I genuinely like it. It makes me happy. My mental health at work is in its right place and for that I am thankful. I work for Art and Global Health Centre Africa. Check out our work on our website and our social media pages (@artgloafrica). Today is your lucky day. As some of you already know, today is International Albinism Awareness Day and there is a short film on our Facebook page depicting the harsh reality people living with albinism are facing. Spare 5 minutes of your time to take a look and drop your comment here (https://web.facebook.com/artgloafrica/). I also moved to my dream city, Zomba, and I started my journey of self healing ( a story for another day). Zomba is such a beautiful city and I am going to make myself a great life here.

Kulinji | Zomba at risk of flooding from Chagwa Dam

When Covid-19 kicked us out of our offices and forced us to resort to remote working, it made us think we have a lot of time in our hands. To be honest, we did have plenty of time at home to utilize. Most of us made goals, enrolled in online classes and planned out how we were going to maximize our time at home. My dearest Gina, how is practicing baking going? Eliana, how about that wig making skill you picked up? Well well well. I am not one to judge. Look at me writing my first blog this year. How ludicrous is that. Take a moment and think of what you wanted to accomplish. If you have started, keep going. If you are two steps ahead, even better. Keep accelerating. If you have slowed down, don’t panic. I know it can be hard. Just don’t give up yet. If you haven’t started, my darling don’t feel awful. There are several factors that may have caused that but if it’s the most common disease called procrastination, my love, i have one word for you. START. That’s it. Start. It’s the only way to start materializing what you want to achieve.

The year is going by so fast and i for one cannot wait for it to end. I hope we will all make it to New Year’s Eve and talk about this year’s events while sipping on your favorite drink (wine for me) and laughing about it when all this is over.

Before I go, I have a quick question for you: Have you verified your voter registration yet?

Until next time… Enjoy your weekend.

Hair Hopping

Hair is my therapy.

What’s the first thing that came to your mind when your mind when you read the title? Bar hopping isn’t it? 😅

Y’all love things and I couldn’t be happier.

We ought to love good things that make us feel good deep within our souls. Things that make us feel brand new and ready to conquer the world. We were all made different and we have different personalities and like different things. That’s the beauty of life. Difference. The uniqueness of our hearts and our weird fetishes. I for one love escaping and feeling different. My superpower that makes me feel whole again is changing my hair. Weird, perhaps. I know! Such attention seeking tendencies.

Well who am I to deny myself the attention that I need to give myself. I feed my soul the food that it needs when it hungers. I quench my life’s thirst of fulfilment by changing my hair. I have had the pleasure of having relaxed hair, short hair, big Afro and even dreadlocks! The thrills these hair styles brought me are phenomenal. I’m going to take you through the 3 hairstyles I’ve had in the past year. My goodness. I am such a hair-hoe. Can’t even be loyal to one style. I cheated on my hair for a reason.

The Afro Girl

After completing uni at Bunda, I decided to cut my hair. You know, big girl things. Starting the world outside of college. The other reason was because my hair is really soft and some of it was falling off so the idea of cutting it was exciting. New hair new me. I felt grown up. I was 22 when I completed college and graduated a year later due to the whole UNIMA-LUANAR shenanigans.

Not to brag, but I have great hair. Okay am bragging 😂. On the real though, my hair grows so fast my friends hate it! My Afro grew so well and I was so in love with it. I would do zinging every night before bed. Wash it every fortnight if it’s not braided. I had all these natural hair products and Pinterest hair pins were all I had time for.

The only relationship I managed to keep was that with my hair. Our love affair would sometimes upset me due to shrinkage or when I run out of money to buy my regular shampoo and conditioner. I was still loyal. You see I can be loyal and committed. Watching my hair thrive gave me piece. Twisting it every night and styling it in the morning gave me joy. I was happy. However, life happened. My then boyfriend broke up with me and it hit me hard. This boy did a number on me and no he didn’t cheat. It’s a whole other story to be told over brandy and chocolate cake. I looked down on myself. I saw myself different. I barely recognized the reflection in the mirror. My soul was crying. I needed to get myself together. I needed a stress reliever! Alas! Hair style number 2.

The Dread head phase

I woke up one morning and told myself that I needed to let go of the pain. I needed to love myself again and be able to smile in the mirror and call myself beautiful and worthwhile. The fastest cure I thought about was my hair. I held my ponytail and decided it’s time. I smiled. Change was near. I could hear it’s whispers. I dressed up and found myself sitting in front of the mirror at the salon ready for change. “Temporary or permanent”, the hair dresser asked. I closed my eyes and heard myself say “Permanent”. Okay so we’re doing this.

I got dreadlocks done and I was surprised at myself. Did I really do this? I looked in the mirror and I was happy with what I saw. Me. Full of life. It worked! As time passed I began to love the dreads so much more. I had plans for this hair. I couldn’t wait till shoulder length and all those hairstyles I saw on Pinterest. The dreads made me feel like a badass. They helped me heal and I couldn’t ask for more. I forgot that I used to say I could never do dreads. I played myself and still somehow won. Dread head Carol was so happy and jovial again. Oh how she adored those locks.

You know, life has a way of turning it’s back on you when you least expect it. Yes you guessed right. I hit another pothole.

The Cut Life

My birthday was approaching and I was turning 26. Guys, life is a bitch! It reminded me that I was 26 in a few days with no job, no money, no man and still a spoon in the house. Some of these factors were bearable, like the no man part of me was alright. I had healed and wasn’t rushing into anything. Though all these save the dates somehow make me irk but it’s something I can handle. Mostly because I have things I need to achieve before making a big decision as living permanently together with someone’s son. Yikes! It scares me sometimes. Living with another human being forever. Mmmmmh.

What hit me the most was the unemployment part. I hate asking people for things. Can’t be asking for small small things like airtime for data. I was so depressed for a long time. My mates were all working with great jobs and buying their own cars. Most of them had moved out and were doing so well. Don’t get me wrong I love that my people are doing great things out there. I admire that. I genuinely support them.

Personally I have my own goals and achievements set and felt my time was running out. This wasn’t what I pictured my 26 to be. Rejection after rejection got the best of me. A few days to my birthday as I was picking up my cousin from school, I took a sneak peak of my face in the rearview mirror and I could read it like a memorized verse. It’s that distressed face again. I hid it pretty well from people but I couldn’t deceive myself any longer. I wasn’t well. I felt comfortable in my bed feeling useless and disappointed in myself.

The voices in my head got louder as the birth date approached. The only way to silence them was to chop off my dreads. I wanted to acknowledge the fact that things weren’t working for me wasn’t my fault. That I am good at what I do and someone will hire me. That maybe I should grow my small farming business instead and that things will fall in place. I took myself to the barbershop and chopped my 8 month old locks. It felt wonderful. Liberating. I know that I am dramatic and chopping my hair wasn’t the only way to feel better but I beg to differ. Chopping my hair worked for me. It worked. That’s all that matters. I feel better. I am better.

I hope you find what works for you. My hair hopping days have been phenomenal and I am yet to see how long I will be with this cut life. Frankly, I don’t know either. The magic is in the mystery!

I am not reckless

I am not reckless
I may seem like I don’t try
Like I hardly care
I may also seem like the sun rises and sets on my behind
But it clearly doesn’t
I am not reckless
I may almost always sideline myself from the crowd
But that’s a defence mechanism
Relationships ruin me
I give in too much and get little or nothing in return
I am not reckless
I doubt myself one too many times
Yet on my good days I am unstoppable
I can rule the world
The mother in me is a true nurturer
But on some days having a family scares the hell out of me
I can’t do it
But I am not reckless
I really am just trying to get by
I drink a lot of wine
It’s therapeutic
I enjoy the wine more these days
Writing was my therapy but wine is easier to consume and doesn’t make me feel
Well, sort of.
But that doesn’t make me reckless
So please cut me some slack and give me an E for Effort

@kalolini

Of 2019 Adventures : My first train ride

Good morning world,

It’s almost the end of the year and I believe that we are all reflecting on how our year has been. Mine has been a roller coaster ride but that’s not what I want to talk about today. This year I’ve had a chance to explore and take on new adventures thus led to this post. I want to share with you some of the memorable adventures 2019 has taken me. They are not many but they hold a special place in my heart.

Today I want to talk about my very first train ride. Growing up my grandfather used to tell me that trains were the most popular mode of transportation back in the day. He used to talk about how fast they were and how affordable it was for them to travel by train. It sounded so cool and being the 8 year old girl I was made me want to experience it too. Unfortunately trains stopped operating in the country.

Over the years trains started again but these were not passenger trains. Most of the ones operating were used to export and import goods. A couple of years ago, I saw that the Central East African Railways (CEAR) company had re-started it’s operations for it’s passenger trains. I heard about their new train and how beautiful and affordable it was. Some of my friends posted photos on Instagram about their train ride and boy was I psyched!

I wanted to be part of the experience, so when GiveDirectly (my work place) moved it’s field office to Liwonde I seized the moment. Liwonde became my home end July and being one of the places the train operates, I talked to my housemate Khwima about going for a joy ride.

Khwima, Ephraim (one of my workmates) and I made a plan and set to take the Sunday train that passes through Liwonde going to Nayuchi at the Mozambique border. It starts of between 8 and 8:30 am at the Liwonde train station. Like any other newbie we got there early! The three of us grabbed our snacks and met at the station. It was all new to me. I saw a queue of people by a window which I guessed must be where they were getting their tickets. We got in line and got the first class coach tickets. Yes. VIP! Who doesn’t want their first train ride to be luxurious?

When the train arrived we asked which coach was the first class one and unfortunately the VIP coach didn’t come. It confused me as well. So you know how they are like boxes, turns out that they can be detached depending on how many they want to move that day. So on our fun ride day, the VIP coach was not there.

Way to burst my bubble.

But in the spirit of positivity, one of the staff members helped us get seats on the business class section. She was such a darling. I only remember that her first name was Cynthia. Wherever you are Miss Cynthia, God bless your soul. We took our seats and got comfortable. To my surprise, the seats were so comfortable. The train was so neat and we’ll organized. I give a thumbs up to their staff. Their management is very good.

The ride was faster than I expected and much much cheaper. We got tickets to drop off at Nsanama. The train ride, for the VIP ticket cost us K450 to nsanama while the normal minibus or taxi ride costs K1000! The K450 was only for VIP while the regular business class cost K350! They gave us our K100s back. Amazing right!

The train arrived much faster than the minibus! These things could replace minibuses, I thought to myself. Being dramatic and extra people that we are, we took novels, food and beverages for the ride. Well, who doesn’t want to read a novel on a moving train😂! Like I said, extra! But it was so so worth it.

The people inside were very friendly too. These were regulars. Most of them were business people. Some took their goods to Nuyichi to sale while others were going to Nayuchi to buy goods to sale back in Liwonde and other surrounding areas.

There is a whole market day on the day the train comes to Liwonde. Cheap and affordable stuff such as tomatoes, vegetables and other items. So if you’re in Liwonde and want cheap tomatoes, go to the training station on Wednesday when the train comes. You can thank me later 😊.

I really had an amazing experience and wanted to share all about it with you. It was an adventure I will always remember. I’ll probably tell my kids all about it. Well, wouldn’t you? ❤

Chiyambi : How I started farming

Hello loves,

I hope you are all wonderful and taking each day at a time in this trying world.

Today I want to talk about how I decided to put my degree to use. I completed my final year at Bunda College in August 2015. I didn’t graduate until almost a year later in August 2016. Bunda College wanted to become independent from University of Malawi and the changes contributed to the delay in the graduation. Our year wanted to graduate as part UNIMA and we did! We are the last UNIMA cohort from Bunda.

Anyway back to the point. From 2015 to 2017, I didn’t get lucky in the job department. I was home writing hundreds of application letters and drowning in stress. No internship, no part time job, no nothing. I did do a few short surveys but that didn’t sit well with me. I wanted to get to a job. I thought getting a job was easy. Its not. Finding a job is an extreme sport in Malawi!

Later on in 2017 I applied for a volunteer position with CorpsAfrica/ Malawi and I was successful. My volunteering job came at the right time. I was a fresh graduate with no skills and no experience. I only had the knowledge I had acquired from school and I seized the opportunity CorpsAfrica gave me. Living in the community humbled me. It made me grow. It made me see life different. If you ever get a chance, volunteer somewhere. You’ll thank me later.

During my volunteer service I met different people in the community. I was based in Mchinji and most of the people there are farmers. I was so close to my then neighbour who is a hardworking woman. This lady believed in farming and she did it with so much passion. She was part of most organisation groups in the village and she was one of the leaders. Her drive to keep pushing regardless of how much she had impressed me. I wanted to have her passion. I wanted to do what she did. She could barely afford fertilizer but she still pushed and harvested enough for her family with surplus for sale.

Being close to her taught me how to persevere. She helped me find a field to rent. On what seed to plant, she suggested I try soya beans and maize because soya is big on the market and no matter the harvest, people will always need maize. I studied Agricultural Extension at Bunda but I lacked enough practical experience. I needed to be taught by the experts themselves. The Farmers! So I took lessons. I accompanied them to the fields just to see what they did. It was groundnut season at the time. Unfortunately I did not find soya bean seed on time as most of the people had already sold theirs. Later on I thought of growing something different. Irish potato. It hit me. Not many people grow Irish potatoes. Why can’t I be one of the few that grow Irish potatoes? Plus I love potatoes. Goodness Irish potato is my favorite carbohydrate. I can eat it everyday. Mashed, boiled, baked or fried, you name it. So I decided to grow Irish potatoes and maize.

How was it you might ask? It was so hard I nearly gave up! There was one time that both the maize and the Irish potatoes needed fertilizer. I had completed my volunteer service at that time and only had the little savings i had on my volunteer stipend. On top of the fertilizer I had to pay the guys that were working on the field. I cried! I didn’t want to give up because that would mean everything I had worked for would go down the drain. I managed to buy the Irish potato fertilizer and paid the workers but I couldn’t afford fertilizer for the maize. So I did what any person would do. I humbled myself and asked my uncle to help me out. And he did. He came through for me and gave me the money. I applied the fertilizer but a bit later than I was supposed to. I should have asked for help sooner. Lesson learned.

After four long months of pushing and waiting for yields, it was finally harvesting season. Mind you, the field was in Mchinji and I had gone back home to Blantyre after my completing my one year volunteer service with CorpsAfrica/ Malawi. I needed to have people harvest the crops for me but my neighbor assured me not to worry. She said her family would do it for free. Such a beautiful soul. I appreciated the gesture but I still gave her something. Harvesting is hard. It needs energy and reward. During the harvest, I went there to witness the outcome. I couldn’t believe that I had managed to do this.


When I saw how much I had harvested my heart smiled. I could not believe my eyes because I had my doubts. I am human. Sometimes I would find myself questioning my decision. Did I really make a good choice investing in agriculture? Many people had said farming is hard and agribusiness requires people who are financially stable. I was no where near financial stability! They scared me. On the other hand, others encouraged me. They admired how brave I was by doing something most people fail to do. The positivity kept me going. I wanted to prove to myself that I can do it. I wanted something that one day I’ll look back on and tell my kids that I did it. I tried and it worked or not. But bottom line is I tried.

I harvested 13 50kg bags of Irish potatoes and 10 bags of maize. I sold 12 bags of potatoes in April and kept one for home consumption. I did say I love my Irish potato carbs! I just recently sold the maize and I couldn’t be happier. I did it! My late grandfather would be so proud.

I am currently growing different vegetables, maize and of course, Irish potatoes too through irrigation. I want to grow and invest more in agribusiness. My passion for farming keeps growing and I am proud of myself. I am glad that I took a leap of faith and it worked. I am, after all, a farmer at heart.