I’m sorry this update is so late in arriving, but as soon as I got back to Scotland I came down with a cold which set off my asthma, so I had to ignore my responsibilities and concentrate on getting well. I’m now feeling a whole lot better and ready to take on the world again!
I taught my first Scottish workshop last Sunday to the Auchtermuchty Cubs, and was slightly disappointed in the participant numbers. Of twenty cubs in the pack, only three came to the workshop. After the enormous enthusiasm for the workshops in Malawi, I was unprepared for this lack of enthusiasm in my own country.
Thinking it through, I’m not so surprised. The children have a lot going on in their lives, and many have other clubs and activities on Sunday mornings. The weekends are traditionally family time, and the cubs are going camping next weekend, I’m not surprised that they didn’t give up part of this weekend too.
The three cubs did fantastic pictures for me and seemed to really enjoy the workshop, so I’m glad I carried on with it.
I’ve learnt from this experience, and will teach the other workshops in the organisation’s normal time slots, and teach then when the schools start again in August and everyone is less busy. I taught workshops to the top two classes of Auchtermuchty Primary School on Wednesday, where things went much better, and the children produced lots of amazing pictures for me.
I’ve found that I’m missing a lot of things from Malawi. Here are a few:
- I miss the children’s enthusiasm at seeing us. At first I found it uncomfortable to be stared at, but when I realised that it was just curiosity, I started to settle into the role of being a curio and enjoyed waving at the kids and saying hello to them.
- I really miss the scenery. Malawi is an incredibly beautiful country, and so unlike what I was expecting. The main part I miss is the drive down from Blantyre to the Shire Valley (pronounced Shear-ee). Blantyre is at 1000m, while the valley is pretty much at sea level, and the drive down to the valley floor takes about 1/2 hour and is spectacular. We drove down three times, once in the early morning clouds, and though I didn’t take any photos that time, I took a lot of ‘soul’ pictures.
- I loved opening our front door at 7am to let the heat of the morning into our apartment. It’s something I really miss back here.
One thing that profoundly affected me while I was in Malawi was how much the project meant to the people I met there, especially to the participants and to the people who organise the cultural events in the country. It was a very humbling experience because I know that in Scotland I’m a small time artist running the largest project of my life, while hoping that this project will produce effects on a number of levels both for me and for other people.
We didn’t get the media coverage that I’d hoped to get in Malawi because the presidential election and inauguration overtook events, but I’m planning to email the journalist I’m in contact with and see if we can get a mention in the Malawian papers even though I’m no longer there.
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