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Highlights of my first quarter in Malawi:

VMMC site tent

One. Driving around the southern region for a male circumcision campaign: yes. Strange though it may seem, MC (as it’s called) has been shown to reduce transmission of HIV by 60%. (That’s a lot!) As such, the government has made it a priority and I was able to accompany the Ministry of Health team on some site visits during a recent “campaign” (the goal being to provide services to as many dudes as possible). This afforded me the most site seeing in Malawi that I’ve done yet, and some of these remote districts are stunning. To top it off, fascinating conversation was all around, even if I didn’t envision myself discussing circumcision to this extent with so many African men!

Launching an HIV service delivery project for women and mothers: there was live drumming and a lot of dancing. It will be no surprise that the Malawian women totally outdanced me! This little party-in-the-morning kicked off a project aimed at (1) developing clinical guidelines for health facilities serving women and mothers living with HIV and (2) empowering those women to… write the guidelines! (Not by themselves of course, but in close collaboration with the health facility folks.) In doing so, stigma and discrimination (which is a real thing here) may be reduced. I guess I can now put “event planning” on my resume?

Cooking and reading: I find I have more time to do these things compared to when I was in Boston. This is a good thing. Especially since the open air market has so much amazing produce for sale (and for a steal, if you’re not afraid to bargain and if you can speak some Chichewa). For your bookshelves, I highly recommend The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer for those interested in Malawi… and in science. (Right up my alley!)

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