7 Jun, 10 | by John Offen
I have come to Malawi with two fellow students, and we are staying in the nursing college with all the local nursing students. The buildings are surrounded by grass, avocado and mango trees and the campus is a twenty minute stroll through lush undergrowth from the compact town centre with its market brimming with fresh local produce. The buildings are in a state of disrepair. There are three toilets in my block, two of them do not work, and the third has no seat, or lock on the door. Cockroaches scuttle noisily across the floor. The shower is an open pipe suspended from the wall. The hot and cold taps trickle equally cold water, and at times no water at all. We hand wash our clothes and uniforms in concrete sinks where we also wash up, and prepare vegetables. Food will not keep here, and there is no refrigerator, so I buy it daily in the market, cooking on a small spirit stove in my room. This is to be my home for the next few weeks, and I soon get into the rhythm of rising at 5am before it is too hot, and eating a breakfast of bread, peanut butter and bananas before heading off to the adjacent district hospital. The local students are an attractive bunch; noisy, laughing, and prone to bursting into song, and the girls colourful wrap around skirts, and all the bright smiles counteract any drabness of the accommodation.