Summer Reruns

Over the next two weeks, you’ll notice a bit of deja vu at this site: old articles suddenly popping up on the front page, with new dates and old comments. It’s not a technical glitch. I’m putting the site into reruns while I’m out of the country and off the grid.

Malawi MapI’m going to Africa — specifically, Malawi. I’ll be working with an organization called FOMO, which runs programs to help the orphans of Mulanje, a district in the southern portion of the country. U.S. Doctors for Africa is one of their partners, and the trip is somewhat under their auspices. While there, I’ll be teaching English and helping repaint a school.

“Why?” is a fair question. A few months ago, I was talking with a student who was just graduating from college. When I asked her about her summer plans, she enthusiastically described an upcoming trip to Uganda. I said something like, “Wow, I wish I could do that.”

Not more than 10 minutes later, I realized there was absolutely nothing stopping me from doing that — other than a bit of fear and inertia.

This isn’t research for any particular project, but it’s homework just the same. Part of a writer’s job is to imagine. I can imagine giant chocolate factories, conjoined chanteuses, and epic sky battles. But I honestly can’t imagine what it’s like to be an orphan in a landlocked country that’s lost a generation to HIV/AIDS. So I’m going to see what that’s like. I’ll end up writing about it here and in other publications, but the main reason I’m getting on the plane is to get some grasp on a situation that is, to me, unfathomable.

While I’m gone, Matt will be minding the store. Please be nice.

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