Where is Laureene??

“Where is Laureene?” is a question Mr. Banda fields almost every day. Although his answers vary – she is at work, at the market, at the lake, in town, they always contain the same ending: she will be back soon, but the time is coming when Mr. Banda will have to answer “Laureene is in Canada” without the assurance that I will be back soon.

The time is coming when my life in Malawi and all the people in it will become a memory.

When I will walk alone at night without Mr. Banda concernedly escorting me asking if I can see alright.

When the only thing greeting me as I reach the ‘finish line’ of me weekend runs will be pavement instead of hoards of kids screaming my name and giving me high fives.

When I will walk down the street unrecognized but remember the greetings of every man, woman and child I met when I walked in my village.

When I will not eat my dinner on a reed mat under the stars listening to my host family talk about their days.

When I will not walk home from work to see Lusanne and Takondwa’s excited faces as they run to greet me.

My time in Malawi has been more than a work placement, more than just time spent in another culture, village, and country. The family I live with has become a part of my family. When Lusanne shows me her school work book, I beam with pride because my sister is working hard and getting good grades in school. When Amos cooked a whole pot of nsima himself I proudly told every passerby that my brother cooked his first pot of nsima. I don’t mind strangers’ quizzical looks when I introduce the children as my brothers and sisters – because to me that is what they are.

I know that for many the memory of me will fade; young Natasha, my three year old dance partner, will forget the azungu whose dance moves made her laugh. Phillip will find someone else to pester every morning, and many others will remember the azungu who once lived in their village but for me these people have made an indelible mark.

Saying goodbye to the friends and family I have here is going to be one of the hardest things I will ever do. I am thankful that when I tell the people in my community learn that I am leaving soon they ask when and not if I will come back. I can’t say when, but I know I will return to Malawi – knowing this is one of the only things that makes the thought of leaving bearable.


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Cheryl Hockin on August 3, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    You had always instinctively understood that it is the little things in life that matter. You are open to others; you laugh, share, invite people into your life and it is no wonder that you will be missed. You can’t change the world in 3 months but you can and have no doubt left an image of one who cares and wants to see our countries assist one another.
    I am so happy that you have found this to be such a rewarding summer. You have faired under very challenging conditions and you have enriched our lives by sharing it with us.
    Enjoy you final weeks.


  2. Posted by Carlie on August 5, 2010 at 2:15 am

    Hey Lauren,

    This was a really beautiful post and I just wanted to let you know how much I have enjoyed following your wonderful adventure in Malawi. It is truly so inspiring!

    Your host family sounds wonderful!

    Thank you for all your updates!


  3. Posted by David McColl on August 5, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Goodbyes are hard!


  4. Posted by Anne on August 8, 2010 at 12:15 am

    I don’t think it will become a memory, I think when you care that much about something it’s always a reality. You’re there even when you’re not. Even when the actual experience ends, it doesn’t become the past, it becomes something else, in a part of your mind reserved for things you care about the most.

    Good luck with the last few weeks, and send my greetings to your family!



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