First of all, let me start off by thanking everyone for all their encouragement and support in starting this incredible PULSE journey. A special thanks goes to the QC Lab Solid Dose team for allowing me to have such a great opportunity, and to the site leadership team for their kind words and support (and DVD/cake!). It’s all meant so much to me!
The flight was long, but I made it to Malawi safely with minimum issues. I was greeted in Lilongwe by the driver with a huge smile and a “Welcome to Malawi!” That was my first taste of how friendly and welcoming the people of Malawi are. We met up with my contact at Save the Children and headed on our 4 hour car ride to Zomba. There were a lot of interesting things to see along the way, including many “did I just see that?” moments. I was definitely not in North Carolina anymore!
When I made it to my new home, I was greeted by one of my roommates, Imanol, and the house dog, Mitch. It was only about 6pm, but it was dark already…something I would have to get used to! Imanol set me up in my new room and I was able to start getting settled in. I have been lucky because Imanol is also a GSK employee from Spain, who is completing a PULSE assignment here in Zomba as well, but with a different organization. It was nice to have someone here that I could trust and go to if needed. He has been such a big help in the adjustment phase here. I couldn’t ask for a better roommate!
The next day I was introduced to other employees at Save the Children, where I had my security briefing. We then headed over to the SAFE (Sub-Saharan Africa Family Enrichment) office, to meet the employees there. SAFE is another non-profit organization that is heavily involved in early childhood development here in Zomba, and has committed to using one of Save the Children’s programs called the Essential Package (EP). This is the program I will be evaluating, and they plan to integrate it into their current programs that are already in place.
Introductions went well, and I learned that I would actually be working in the SAFE office daily. They then informed me that they had a week-long trip planned to the northern region that weekend, and since I would be all alone in the office, they invited me to come along. Let the adventure begin!