AK Parker is an Art Director from BBH London who is currently on TIE in Malawi. She’s working at Joshua Orphan & Community Care, a grassroots organization that supports community-driven programmes assisting HIV/Aids orphans, vulnerable children and their families in Blantyre. Since the first week of her placement, she has been sending her agency back home some updates on her experiences on the field – and they are awesome! It’s always exciting for us to get to know the everyday learnings and insights from our participants, so we thought you might enjoy them too.
It’s rainy season in Malawi, which means the mango trees, maize fields and mountains are green and lush.
It also means brilliant umbrellas. When the heavens opened on Saturday, I passed someone holding a big brolly saying: ‘I’M PROTECTED FROM DOOM’. That’s hilarious I thought. Then two days later, approaching my final week, I got the worst sick bug, combined with no running water, a rat in my kitchen, and loads to finish on the project. I wondered, just where I can get one of those umbrellas from.
That aside, the week before was great. I Finally met a chief, who was surprisingly ordinary and the child who had malaria was sitting up, making a good recovery.
I also was fortunate to be taken to the remaining schools, I was yet to visit, to complete my bank of imagery for the website and school books. The only blip there, was that my camera battery, due to the power cut the day before. But hey, who needs a camera when you are photographing schools!
I’ve learnt that because the teachers don’t have any resources, they use song and dance to teach (it’s not just the guy with the Harmonica). Which is fantastic for the kids in terms of fun, energy and memorability. I’m sure there is a lot our teachers, account people and agency presenters can learn from them.
However, some of the songs they are teaching, could do with an update. One of my more surreal moments, was sitting in a classroom hut (which was also being used as a family kitchen and dining room), listening to the teacher, Elizabeth, sing ‘Fly away Peter, come back Paul’ to children who don’t speak English. That combined with the prized book I found in the children’s section of Blantyre’s National Library, about the Diamond Jubilee, made me more determined to supply them with material around their own culture in their own language.
So I guess I get better give up on the idea of ever finding that umbrella and get on with it!