An Outsider’s Observations on Malawi


  • Every person I have met in Malawi is a hard worker that wants to improve their livelihood, but the vast majority are extremely poor. No one has more, some have certain things that others don’t, but all are on the same level of hunger and poverty.
  • Many people in the street wear clothes donated by Americans, which is a little jarring the first few times you see a Boston Marathon t-shirt or a Salt Lake City Winter Olympics vest.
  •  Most kids and adults have shoes, though I have seen quite a few without. However, the shoes the girls wear are very thin ballet flats or sandals, with little to no support and are extremely worn. From what I can tell, they buy most of their shoes (rather than donations).


  • Women have the best outfits here. Somehow all of the rules about fashion are destroyed, and it’s gorgeous. A woman I saw wore a black and white patterned fitted shirt, with a green fabric chetenge that had different pattern, and a red head scarf. But somehow it worked. I’m no expert in fashion, but women in the U.S. could definitely take a hint from these women, who care about their appearance in the sense that they want to look presentable at all times.
  • Most children’s clothes are tattered. I’m guessing this is because children grow so quickly, and it’s difficult for parents to afford new clothes every few months, so they borrow clothes from older siblings or family members.
  • The biggest obstacle that many people have told me is the lack of work and hunger (which are intertwined).IMG_5146 (1)


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