The first filming trip I ever made was also my first trip to the continent. I fell in love with the place and the people. I was commissioned to make a film about blood banks in Malawi for the WHO, back in 2006 and traveled to Lilongwe. I met up with a crew from Nairobi in Blantyre to then travel on in the smallest plane I had ever set foot in. The seat barely had any cushions and the luxury I was used to from the big international flights was nowhere to be seen. To me it was all part of my adventure in Africa. What an eye opener this trip was. The crew, Ken and Abdul, taught me a lot about African food, what to eat and how to eat and other local traditions.
It wasn’t a trip to show the beauty of the country. We were filming in local maternity wards to showcase the desperate need for blood the hospitals are in. At the time the AIDS epidemic was still rife and collecting uncontaminated blood and storing it in a safe place was not a luxury but a necessity.
Malawian people are very modest but most welcoming. I couldn’t get over the fact that these women who just had given birth to their young, sometimes even premature babies were allowing us to film in the ward. Malawi, the land of smiles. It’s where my collection of African wood carvings started too!