Mango trees, Parmesan cheese, and an Italian Catholic Priest

Today was one of those days put together by a million little beautiful moments. We took an overnight trip to 3 rural clinics 3 hours north of Blantyre. Our first clinic was held under a mango tree in refuge from the hot sunshine. You can already see signs of the "hungry season"- as they call it here. I did my usual nutrition measurements and assessments, some on children who were literally starving from not enough food, and then helped hand out the peanut formula. With a baby on their hip, some with an additional child (usually a twin) tied to their back, the mothers approached the back of our Land-cruiser with Jumbos (plastic bags) ready to be filled with food. I took a small pleasure in every smile I received that morning in between my broken Chichewa.

After clinic, we stopped for cold Fantas, and spent our afternoon along a dusty road traveling to Father Salmaso's house- an Italian Catholic Priest who's been living in Malawi so long now, his second spoken language is Chichewa. We were greeted by a beautiful church, an empty warm home with pasta left out for our lunch, the yard littered with farming equipment, old engines, and old statues of saints. His house was painted a bright blue and white. In his living room sat a brand new oil press for sunflower seeds.

We helped ourselves to fresh ice cold lemon grass tea and sat down for lunch. Parmesan cheese was passed around to put over the home-made tomato sauce. A small creature comfort in the middle of rural Malawi. I couldn't help but cry out with excitement and was told the cheese was from Italy.

We starting preparing dinner immediately after lunch peeling potatoes and de-stringing green beans. I loved just sitting with the nurses on the front porch discussing small things on marriage and life, in between talking about our research project.

Father Salmaso had once been described to me as "weathered". That night I finally had the pleasure of meeting him over a potato and chicken meal. His light pink skin, thin grey hair, and thick Italian accent seemed to almost not match his calm demeanor and perfect Chichewa he spoke at dinner that night. He was humble, yet opinionated and it was very clear that he loved living in Malawi. He promptly opened a bottle of sweet Cabernet, also from Italy to share with all of us. It was a beautiful end to the day.