Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Fri, Aug 9: Logistics

Andrea: Working to get caught up with laundry – washing by hand in a bucket. I'd forgotten how much work hand washing is!

One of the problems that remains to be solved is that of money. The Fulbright scholarship includes a resettlement allowance, living allowance, etc. – but that is paid in US dollars into our US bank account. Of course, we need Malawian kwacha (MK) to buy anything.

We can withdraw kwacha from our US checking accounts at some of the ATM machines here, at a rate of about $1 = 320 MK. The problem is that the highest note they make is 1000 MK, or about $3.13. If the machine is stocked with 1000 MK notes the most we can withdraw at a time is 40,000 MK or about $125, because that is the tallest stack of bills the machine's slot can handle. If the machine is stocked with 500 MK notes we can only withdraw 20,000 MK. There is a $5 transaction fee every time. Nobody here uses checks, and only a few places that cater to tourists take credit cards. When you consider that it will take at least a couple million MK to buy a used car, you can see how things get complicated. 

40,000 MK, about $125: a stack of forty bills



  1. Although this sounds posh, when I was in India there were people who would wash our clothes and even iron and fold them with paper inside for cheap. What is it like there? It could be a way to distribute relative wealth!

  2. Kiron, we did have someone help with cleaning and laundry when we lived in Honduras. It was a good thing - she was a member of the church we attended and it was a great chance to get to know a wonderful family better. We might do that here once I pick up more work responsibilities and we find someone who can advise us on whom to hire - we're still getting to know people here and I don't know who to ask. Might skip the paper stuffing though! -Andrea