Back at St John’s mental health centre after a relaxing weekend we started early and were quickly ushered into the office of Flemings, the principal of the college for a meeting to talk about how we might collaborate in terms of both training and research. We will be following up this meeting over the next few days and have lots of exciting ideas to share and develop. We were then shown around the psychosocial counselling department, which has the unique advantage of having its own attached clinical services which students are very actively involved in running.

Discussing future collaborations.jpg

We spent the rest of the morning in the child development centre and in the Umoza vulnerable children’s project, where we were given a lesson in making nsima (by the mama of Umoza), in drumming (by an Umoza tutor) and swinging really high (by the children). We then retired for lunch where we chatted to some of the current students of the college and promised to visit Mzuzu prison at some point in the future to see the conditions there.

The afternoon began with us interviewing Devlin (local psychologist) on how he understands compassion in his work and in his culture. We are planning to use this material to co-author a book chapter in the near future. We were moved by his reflections and struck by the similarities and differences in the ways we conceptualise our work in relation to distress, compassion and empathy.

The 'Unworried Professor' tuck shop

Finally, we went for a bumpy ride passing many interesting shop signs (see photo!) to visit the newly established day-services for the elderly (locally called agogos) in the suburbs of Mzuzu. We met and shook hands with all the clients, who then all sang to us beautifully. We travelled a few more miles to visit the building of a new space for this service, which is currently being facilitated in a local school classroom.  We finished the day by meeting old friends, buying fresh bread in the supermarket, and cooking ourselves a meal at home whilst chatting with the brothers. Another full day!

The garden of the new agogo facilities
The garden of the new agogo facilities