Contributed by Vivian Hoving.

I have had the pleasure of working as a volunteer at Kusamala for eight weeks, doing an individual research about organic fruits and vegetables. Most of my days I spent working at the shared office, this is located within the office complex of Kusamala. On most occasions there were 5-6 colleagues working here as well. I loved the combination between working in silence and a joke now and then. The location of the office is beautiful, it feels like you are working in the middle of nowhere, while it is still close to the city and especially to my host family’s house.

The lunches from the garden at Kusamala were great as well. Most of the time I was already looking forward to this meal at half past seven in the morning. There was always a friendly vibe at the office the only guy I could not stand, was the internet connection. I had the freedom to do my research the way I wanted to do it and I could go to interviews or other appointments whenever needed. Most of the times there was a car heading to city center, on other occasions I just took a mini bus or hitchhiked. This was a great way of exploring Lilongwe for me. Except for the times I walked a long way and got back in the office looking like a red lobster.

I have never seen a city like Lilongwe, and the first time somebody explained to me that I was in ‘city center’ right now, I had to laugh. It turned out that city center is not the actual center of the city, it seems like the center is referred to as ‘town’ and city center is just a place on the edge of town. Despite there is not a lot to do in the city itself, I have missed it when I went up to the north for a week. Coming back at Shoprite after this week actually felt like coming home.

The thing I am going to miss most in Malawi will be my host family. Since the first day this place has felt like home. When I am back in the Netherlands in am definitely going to miss the late-night soccer watching with my brother, the cooking of Nsima with my sisters and even the washing with my mom.

The eight weeks I have been here feel like just a week. The time was way too short, to do the research and to really get to know the organization. If only I would have stayed longer I could have joined a field trip or attended some permaculture classes. Despite this, it will be good to go home and finish my studies. Who knows, maybe Malawi hasn’t seen the last of me yet.

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