Worldsupporter dialogue

During my stay in Malawi I had a lot of nice conversations with locals. Especially with the local volunteers at the project where I was also volunteering at, but also during the weekends in different places and hostels in Malawi.  In the end I made the decision to write this blog about my conversation with Timothy. Timothy is a 23 year old local volunteer at one of the projects around Zomba. During my first weekend in Malawi Timothy was our guide in the welcome to Zomba tour. Zomba is a beautiful city and all be-more Malawi projects are located around this city.

While Timothy showed us the most beautiful places of Zomba city I had a really nice conversation with him. The conversation emerged spontaneously but we discussed interesting topics concerning politics, religion and differences between Malawi and the Netherlands on this. That’s why I chose to write my dialogue blog about this conversation with Timothy.   


Our conversation started when we passed a government building in Zomba. A couple months ago it was election time in Malawi and a new president was chosen. Peter Mutharika won the elections and thereby defeated the previous president Joyce Banda. Under the regime of Joyce Banda I only heard of a lot about the big corruption scandal cashgate where more than 100 million dollar of state funds disappeared.. Because of this I supposed everyone would be very happy that Joyce Banda wasn’t the president anymore now. I couldn’t be more wrong. Timothy is a smart guy and he told that he didn’t vote for Banda this time but he also didn’t vote for Mutharika. He didn’t think Joyce Banda was a bad president. Yeah the scandal, but she did a lot of really good things for Malawi. For the people and the country. After my conversation with Timothy about this I heard more local Malawians being very positive about Joyce Banda. I was really surprised by this, I couldn’t imagine you could be so positive about someone who let 100 million dollars disappear. This was an eye opener for me, even though I still can’t imagine you can still trust someone like this I learned from Timothy and the others that they value things differently and maybe more than we do. They still see all the good Banda did for Malawi instead of only focussing on the bad.

We also talked about religion. Religion is very important for Malawians and I had a really honest conversation about religion with Timothy. He was also a Christian, like a lot of Malawians and we discussed the differences with Christianity and religion in the Netherlands. Not only Timothy but a lot of other Malawians are really surprised if you tell them that in Holland not everybody has a religion. They feel pity for us. With Timothy our conversation went from religion to superstition. Because behind the religious Malawian culture there is also a lot of superstition. For example Timothy told that before the rainseason everybody is praying a lot for a good rainfall but next to the praying there are also people who believe that their neighbours have put a spell on them when the harvest is not good.  

My reflection on my dialogue with Timothy is that he is a really smart young guy who thinks a lot about things that happen in his country and he is willing to put so much effort in improving his country through volunteer work. I also saw this with other local volunteers I talked with and I have so much respect for them.

This is also the most important thing I learned from this conversation and maybe from my whole stay in Malawi. Even when you have not enough money or food yourself you can still mean a lot for others around you. Like Timothy and other local volunteers who work for a volunteer project every day a week next to having their own life and family. We can learn something from that in the Netherlands where everything is so anonymous and individual. No excuses and start small, a smile can already light up someones day. “Nobody is that poor that they can’t give a smile and nobody is that rich that they don’t need a smile”. 

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