The Pod Squad
Alison Case (Mountain Goat), Brad Davis (Pod Daddy), Lena Widman (Snail Killer) Christine Honer (Abbrevs) Kaity Lazet (PB Coco, House Mama), Gretchen Augustine (Grand-Dad)
Weekend in Zomba
Transport: Minibus driver Alex drove us for 85,000 kwacha (he was kind of weird about pricess …) vs. Collins!
Lodging: Trout farm — $8/night choice. Bring TP!
Hiking: “Boneface” (Boniface) a local guide at Trout Farm. He charges 500 kwacha per head, very reasonable. You can try to go on the path on your own, but it’s nice to have a guide. Leave early (7 a.m.) from Blantyre so you can do the whole loop (we only did part of it). Hike down potato path next day — Boneface will guide.
Food: Bring a picnic for hiking (tomatoes, chips, PB, apples). Eat fancy dinner at Sunbird — great sunset! Also bring PB and fruit for breakfast. Trout Farm has 500 kwacha Ricoffey and bread in a.m. Eat lunch at Casa Rosa after hiking down potato path the next day.
Timeline: We left at 9 a.m. Sat from Blantyre. Arrived around 10:45. We hiked a 4-hour mini loop catching two waterfalls and two overlooks. Leave earlier to do a full loop. Left after hiking down on Sunday — 2 p.m. — home before 4 p.m. Sunday.
- This will be an incredible experience! All the students, registrars and consultants are amazing. I did a week in different wards, each has their own flavor but they’re all good. Meet with Dr. W to introduce yourself and talk about options, but then it is up to you how much time you want to spend in each ward and how much you want to be involved. Cardio Clinic is amazing. I would strongly recommend spending a little time in clinics, in special care ward and some time in Peds A&E. Towards the end I felt comfortable taking on multiple patients and forming plans for them — hope you do too!
- Buy the paeds handbook from Ella in the paeds annex (2500 kwacha). It will be very helpful to manage pts
- Meet a new person in morning signout every day. Smile, introduce yourself to everyone and you will be fine.
- 5th year med students (from Malawi) will save you! They are amazing.
- This will be a great experience but you have to take initiative and make the rotation into what you want. Morning report is every morning at 8a. Ward rounds are Monday and Thursday mornings. HDU rounds are Tuesday, 2:30-5. You have the option to hang out with students (ask them what their lecture schedules are) or do your own thing. There are clinics you can go to — palliative, cardiac, general, chest, ARV (highly recommend) — just ask for the schedule. I ended up managing half a bay by myself Tues/Wed/Fri because otherwise those patients might not get seen. It’s crazy but you learn so much and everyone is so grateful. Just ask what you can do to help.
Heba Mahmoud, Lizzy Boes, Brent Keaner, Wesam Agha, Lucan Chatterly, Erika Phelps Nishiguchi, Shaina Parks, Katie LaRusso
- 4 of us arrived early Friday, so we had a chance to get settled in and get as much info as possible from Block 1.
- Sunday, Terrie dropped us off at Mt. Michiru to do an acclimating hike. Since the trails are poorly marked and the “map” is simply a painting, it would be a good idea to hire a guide there. We managed, but also had to backtrack about 30 minutes. It was quite warm, and we did not pack enough water or snacks, so if you go be sure to bring lots of water. Also, the plants overwhelm the foot trail at times, so hiking shoes and full-length pants are advised. Can be slippering and steep, so consider bringing some of the hiking sticks.
- Gorgeous views of Blantyre from the top. Good starting point if you are interested in conquering Zomba Plateau or Mt. Mulanje later on (or good for letting you know if hiking is not your calling!). Keep your eyes open for baboons.
- The other peaks around Blantyre are Soche and Ndirandi. Soche has some good bouldering that folks from the Mountain Club can show you if interested. And Karl will sometimes go mountain biking around Michiru (there is a spare bike here for your use).
Outdoor Fun in the Sun
- The Hash House Harriers running group is a great way to meet fun people around town and to find out about other events going on. Georgio, the owner of La Caverna, is also a good resource for events around town.
- Join the Mountain Club (contact Yaseen, 0888827272) if you want to hike up Mulanje. During the weekend the group went back to the lake, I went to Mulanje with some people from the Hash run. It’s an awesome experience and can be a nice challenge. If your porter’s name is Radius, be warned. 15 mins in, he had to stop. We thought he was going to have a heart attack. After a few more stops we ended up carrying all our own gear anyways.
- You many be asking yourself, “What happens if it rains?” We recommend getting the tarp out of the garage, some dish soap and the hose to make a backyard slip and slide!
- When the sun finally does go down, the top of the backyard water tower is a very nice viewing point.
Cara, Gina, Sandra, Chris, Ashley, Lily, Danika
Making the most of your time in Malawi
Erika Phelps Nishiguchi
I overlapped with all three groups since I was here for research in addition to clinical rotation. I observed some of what worked (and didn’t) for others, and tried a lot out on my own. Here are some suggestions:
- Learn (some of) the language. The guards love to teach the greetings and some key phrases. Strangers, colleagues and patients appreciate the effort. I (and Group 3!) took lessons from Fanny. She has over a decade’s worth of experience teaching language and culture to Peace Corps volunteers and others. About 1500 MK per person for one-hour lesson, 0999210085.
- Make friends with med students! Sometimes it’s much harder than expected since they’re used to elective students doing their own thing, plus they are studying HARD.
- Try local food! Simoni doesn’t cook it, so you’ll have to try it out. Comfy intro: Flavours Restaurant. Turn R onto Mahatma Gandhi from Marshall, on our R before you reach sports complex. Lunch options: Tasty Foods — the little blue restaurant across from the hospital entrance. 1-2 options, 700 MK. Nurses Hostel — behind the drinks vendor between Paeds and Surgery. More variety, 500 MK.
- Work hard, then play hard! You’ll probably feel useless at first, but there are ways you can truly help out, especially when you’ve shown you’re there to work.