Religion is viewed very differently in different parts of the world. It determines the lifestyle in which we live our lives, and the set of values we model ourselves after. In a place like Canada, religious diversity is very evident. With approximately 23.9% of Canadians being atheists, religion is something that has become more and more rare to see in Canadian households. Now comparing this to a country like Malawi, the situation could not be more different. Atheism is virtually non-existent in Malawi, with roughly 85% of its population being christians, and 14% being muslim. While this religion dynamic can be related to the difference in development and wealth between these two countries, it is interesting to see another country’s everyday perception on religion. I’ve noticed several things here in Malawi that you would just not see in Canada. First, is the topic of religion within a household setting. I’ve had several conversations with my host father centred around religion, with very little progress being shown. Malawians are so set in their religious ways that the idea of Atheism is one that they do not want to hear, and is often considered to be crazy. Second, is the presence of Christianity in subtle everyday life. From shops being named “God is Good Hardware” and “Praise the Lord Bakery”, to minibuses fashioning stickers saying “This car is protected by the blood of Jesus”, there is no lack of representation of religion in their daily lives. Coming from a religious background, it has really been interesting to see the impacts that religion has on Malawian culture, and how this differs from Canada.
I would now like to transition back to what has been happening in my placement. I am currently roughly two months into this journey, with time moving at an absolutely insane speed. Last week I was fortunate enough to travel with the WASH Cats crew to Cape Maclear for our mid-placement retreat. To say that Cape Maclear was beautiful would be a massive understatement. From sunsets to hammocks to beautiful beaches, Cape Maclear had everything I could possibly ask for to help unwind a bit and to reflect on my experiences I’ve had up to this point. It was the perfect setting for the entire team to come together collectively to share what we’ve learned to this point and to draw on other’s experiences and give feedback. Those past few days provided some inspiration, learning, and more than a few laughs. My favourite event at MPR was the JF Olympics. While my team got absolutely decimated in the rap battle (courtesy of Steph and Thom), I like to think we held our own when it came to lip-sync battles (thanks Aaron) and the nsima-eating contest. Thanks to Devon for organizing a great evening of laughs, alcohol, and general companionship.
Looking where I am at this point, time really has blown by. I really feel like I’ve only been here for a few weeks, even though my calendar tells me otherwise. Some very exciting experiences are coming up in the next few weeks, and I have no doubt that they will just speed time up even more. Next week Friday we are travelling to Liwonde National Park, which is apparently the best safari experience here in Malawi. A bit later in August, we are travelling to Mount Mulanje, where we will be investing in a two-day hike. I’ve learned so much up to this point, and I truly look forward to what the rest of the summer has in store for me. If I do not get killed by a lion or die hiking the mountain, I hope to share lots of pictures and my experiences with you!
-DC, signing off!