A Polish national Kinga Tansjewska who provoked the wrath from Malawians after announcing that she had contracted bilharzia from Lake Malawi has received backing from Malawi Tourism Council (MTC).
MTC has issues a press release in response to recent social media attack surrounding a post by Tansjewska who came as a tourist who visited Malawi earlier this year confirming that indeed Malawi has Bilharzia in some parts of its beautiful Lake Malawi, although some parts like most unpopulated islands have recently tested negative of Bilharzia.
The release signed by Innocent Kaliati on behalf of the Board Chairperson describes the reaction from Malawians as emanating from a mixture of misinformation and lack of awareness surrounding this subject, which could be very damaging to Malawi's image as a tourist destination.
In the post through her On her Bike Facebook page that she has not had a good run with her health for the last couple of months.
"One issue led to another... it started with Bilharzia, as a result of swimming in Lake Malawi, which led to a bladder infection, followed by a urinary tract infection, and on top of that, I got the Shingles. And after all the treatments I was still diagnosed with Bilharzia," she wrote.
The post, attracted violent reactions from many Malawians, some of whom suggesting that she was sleeping around when she came, while others said she had a weak immune system and needed to go for an HIV post.
MTC says in its statement that it has contacted the tourist to engage her on her feedback about Malawi to understand her experience better.
"She has clarified to us that she indeed contracted Bilharzia from Lake Malawi despite taking the recommended medication. The infection resulted to further health problems as a result of weakened immunity. We are, however, happy to hear she is now fine and back on the road on her world tour," reads the MTC statement.
The statement also quotes Tansjewska saying that despite all that happened, 'Malawi will always remain in her heart and she looks forward to returning'.
MTC says it noted with concern the racial slurs and the derogatory language used by most Malawians in response to the social media post.
"It is our view that these comments may cause a lot of damage than the tourist's post will ever do. The tourist being a travel blogger has a huge following who may draw conclusions about what kind of people we are, based on the aggressive comments," states the press release.
It further says Malawians have a duty to educate themselves about Bilharzia so they can offer informed opinions on such issues.
"Your passion for defending the image if our country is admirable, however, a little bit of research will always put us in a position to have an informed debate with others," says Kaliati in the statement.
The statement has also reminded tourism operators to mention bilharzia to their guests and advise them to take praziquantel six weeks after they have been swimming in Lake Malawi to avoid getting bilharzia.
Tanajewska was born in then communist Poland in 1981 but got bitten by the bike bug at around 16, with her first bike, a Honda CB450 Nighthawk coming along soon after.
She emigrated to Australia after completing an Engineering Degree in Poland where she saved up and bought a Yamaha FZ600. Before long she bought a BMW GS800 with the idea of doing a circumnavigation of Australia, or "Tour de Oz", as she called it.
She told ZA Bikers.com that she achieved this in stages and at one time worked in Western Australia before completing the journey by returning to her home in Sydney. 'She raised funds and awareness for a children's charity called Shepherd Centre during her trip'.
Tanajewska is further quoted that her life took a dramatic turn when she had a "head-on" collision with a car, totalling her GS and breaking a hand and leg.
When she received a sizable pay out for her accident, she bought a new GS800 nicknamed "Chilli" and departed Sydney in April 2017 with a loose plan to "ride around the world".
The charity beneficiary for this trip is a little Polish boy named Franek, who suffers from Cerebral palsy.