Why Malawi? Why Africa?

Thanks for checking out my travel blog. But before joining me on my adventure starting this summer of 2012, it is only fair to explain why this blog exists. In doing so, you’ll have to hear a bit about myself first…my apologies!

I am a recent graduate from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. I studied journalism and political science. Although the many perks of being a student such as medical coverage and the excuse to not having a full time job are now over, there is still one major way I am benefiting from my undergraduate experience.

And it’s the reason I am in Malawi today.

Every year, the Centre for Media and Transitional Societies (CMTS) based out of Carleton University places about twenty students across Africa. Each student is expected to engage in and contribute to the news gathering in the country they are based.

As one of the very lucky twenty students selected, I am presently in Lilongwe, Malawi which is the capital of the country. Here, I am working for Farm Radio Malawi. This organization is in partnership with Farm Radio International situated in Ottawa, Canada.  Both organizations advocate for a greater broadcasting of farming and agriculturally-based stories in the cities they are situated. Although ironic, Farm Radio Malawi is not a radio station. Instead, it is an organization that monitors the content of multiple radio stations within the country, while attempting to promote an increase of agricultural content aired throughout. Their studies show that farmers can and have in fact increased their knowledge and productivity from informative radio farming stories.

Because of such, my eight week internship here in Lilongwe will be at Zodiak Radio. At the station, I will be representing Farm Radio Malawi by pitching and compiling as many agriculturally-based stories as possible. It is my duty to try to unveil and emphasize the importance of stories that could benefit Malawian farmers and increase their productivity. My other tasks at the station will include editing and writing online articles.

This blog will serve as a way for you to follow my findings. What issues are Malawian farmers facing, and as a result, what types of messages need to be delivered through the power of radio?

But, I don’t want to sell you short.

I have come all this way, so I might as well use this blog to also fill you in on my daily observations. What is Lilongwe all about? What are the people like, where are the best places to have fun, and is truly unique to this city? I welcome you to join me on this journey through my blog. And the fun won’t stop there. After my internship, I will be backpacking to another country in Africa (destination to be determined)! In August, I will check out the Olympics in London and then make my way to Scotland to rock climb with a dear friend of mine.

So, if we are going to be travelling together, I think it is only fair for you to know a bit more about myself upfront, even though I am sure you will get to know me more as this adventure unfolds! I am a person driven by passion. As a young child, I developed the passion to help others. This desire manifested far beyond my hometown of Brampton, Ontario, and rather quickly. At 17 I graduated high school a semester early to travel to East Africa. In order to save up some money, I landed myself a job as a janitor for a few months. I can assure you there has never been a more motivated person scrubbing toilets to date. The second I had enough money in the bank, I booked my ticket and off I went. I volunteered in Jinja, Uganda for the summer of 2008. It was truly one of the best experiences of my life.

But the journey was bitter-sweet. It was fantastic in that I met the most beautiful people, fell in love with Africa, and was able to help a small portion of those in need. For instance, the money raised went towards the reconstruction of a school, the painting of another, and the delivery of care packages to families in rural villages. But what wasn’t so settling was the realization that my impacts were only as powerful as the amount of money I had raised.

This realization is why I decided to study journalism at Carleton University. I promised myself I would not return to Africa until honing a skill, trade, or  finding a way to give back in a country beyond the monetary form. Journalism has given me the skills and means to tell peoples stories, empower the voiceless, and make injustices known worldwide.

This CMTS opportunity, then, could not have landed in my lap at a more beautiful time. I always said the second I graduate, I would be on African turf again. It was no more than nine days after submitting my final paper of my undergraduate career and moving out of my apartment in Ottawa that I found myself on a plane to Malawi.

So, here I am! Join me in this journey through my blog. And hey, if any of you get really into it…the real adventure is only a plane ride away. Travel buddies are always welcome!

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