3 Countries in 2 Years – Malawi, Here We Come!

Hi everybody! It’s Jon. I wanted to say that up front because 1) you’re not used to hearing from me (new year’s resolution?), and 2) Naama rejected my idea a long time ago to put the author’s name on top of these posts, but I maintain that it’s useful for you, dear reader, to know up front who’s writing these posts. So this is my workaround!

We have an announcement: in the next few days we’re moving to Malawi! I can hear you now, “Huh? Aren’t you happy in South Africa? Why are you leaving?”

The answer in short – my immigration application. Naama and I have actually been residents of Malawi basically since we arrived and have been visiting South Africa on renewable 90-day visitor permits. This has allowed me to do the work of setting up our offices in South Africa while traveling back to Malawi when needed for work purposes every month or two. Naama had to be more creative, but she still left at least every 90 days.

Simultaneously, I’d been working on an application for a business visa but, as it turns out, that was based on bad legal advice. The relevant departments in the South Africa government didn’t think that was the way to go. So I’m back to square one and starting over.

With a timeline of 8-12 months for any additional application to be reviewed, I’m looking at a good part of the next year without formal, longer-term legal status – probably too long to keep relying on visitor permits as the government can restrict those at any time for any reason.

On the positive side of things, we learned all of this at a good juncture to start making alternative plans for 2018, including finding new housing in Lilongwe. Here are some photos of our new place! These were taken during the final phases of construction so excuse the piles of lumber, turned over furniture, and misplaced fridge. We arrive this weekend so we have yet to turn it in to a proper home. We are excited about the proximity to friends and colleagues, all the windows and natural light, the water tank and generator (critical due to the frequent outages), and – a rare luxury in Malawi – the air conditioning in our bedroom. Our new landlord seems very nice, too.

I’ve also got the beginnings of a great team to continue our work in South Africa. Remotely managing this team isn’t ideal, but they have already gained my confidence and I’m excited to see what they can do.

Obviously, having to set up all over again sucks, but we’re excited about the opportunities in Malawi, especially for Naama’s volunteering and being close to colleagues and friends we’ve made there over the past year. And we’ll still get to regularly visit South Africa – land of sushi, movie theaters, and consistent power – both for work and travel with visitors, etc.

New year, new beginnings, indeed. Wish us luck!

– By Jon


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