profound moment

I was at the local post office in my town in Balaka, Malawi. I was accustomed to speaking Chichewa, the local language, every time I went there. One day I was waiting in line and I heard a distinctive American voice; I looked around to find the white person - the other 'azungu' in the area. I looked and looked and went around the building and back and there was no white person to be seen. Finally I let my ears do the walking; I saw a telephone booth and in that booth was a young woman about my age who had the darkest skin of any Malawian I had ever met. I was profoundly shocked to hear such well spoken English coming from a person of color in my village.

I befriended her and learned her story. Her mother had left her native home in Mozambique at the beginning of the civil war there. She had taken her young daughter, my new 'azungu friend', to Chicago and raised her there. This young woman was in Malawi trying to find a way to get back to her grandmother, who was in Mozambique and had not left the country during the war.

She was trying to find a safe way to enter Mozambique right after the civil war had ended in 1992. I do not remember her name now, but I hope she made the journey safely. At that time, there were still Landmines at the Mozambican- Malawian border. If that young girl sees this story, I would love to be her friend again and learn her name and find out about her journey.

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“Sunset at the Railroad” by PCV Nicholas Baylor Hall. Namibia, 2011.