Well, 'tis done. It's been hard to find the headspace to disentangle my Malawian exploits and reorganise them into a coherent narrative. Only time will tell if I've managed it.
On top of the writing challenge - and without going into too much ‘poor me’ detail - I'm moving.
People move all the time. They get stressed and they get over it. Well, that's the plan. But it's been the unfortunate context in which I've tried to unscramble my Malawian diaries.
But this book felt important - more than some of the others. This is much more than ‘woman has a great time in Malawi.’ It was a trip that challenged me physically - for the first time I wondered if I really need to spend hours bouncing around in a truck while being driven up a dirt track in the rainy season. I also had an interesting encounter with termites (well, interesting in retrospect. At the time I was busy picking them out of my ears, and my nose, and from by shirt-front …)
However, the real challenge of this trip lay in its questioning all my ethical assumptions about the role of aid agencies in tackling apparently intractable poverty. From the day I arrived I met people with strong opinions - everyone had ideas, but no one had solutions. What I found most upsetting was nobody seemed to see the purpose of a career in overseas aid as working themselves out of a job.
Given that I met almost as many opinions as people, it was difficult to unpick them all and write about them with any sense of narrative. My solution was simply to provide accounts of many of my conversations, to show how one idea built on another in my own thinking, and then leave it to you, dear reader, to reach your own conclusions.
Behind all this travelling and thinking - was Everlasting. He has agreed I can put his picture on the cover of the ebook, and to use his name in the title. He is an extraordinary man, and it was a privilege to spend six weeks with him. And something pretty special happened for him, too - so he won't forget this trip either. So, more than anything else, this little ebook is a tribute to him.
Readers in the UK can find it here. And if anyone wants a copy to review, please let me know.