Monday, June 23, 2008

Update: February 21-June 12

Hello from the warm heart of Africa! After a very long flight (15 1/2 hours) we arrived safely in Johannesburg, South Africa on February 23 rd. We spent then night in the hotel and then back to the airport for the 3 hour flight to Lilongwe. We were greated upon arrival by many current volunteers waving banners and flags at us. It was great to have such a warm welcome. We then were wisked away to Dedza to begin our 8 week training. Frankly I can't believe I have been here for almost 4 months--I know it seems like a long time to you, but it has gone by so quickly! To spare you all the boring details this is a quick run down of what we did during training:

Current volunteers waiting to great us at the airport. What a welcome!

2/24-3/1: Training in Dedza:
This week is mostly getting used to time zone, food, new people, basic PC policy, blah, blah, blah...Peace Corps uses the Malawi college of Forestry as home base during pre-service training, in-service training (IST-for me in August), and mid-service training (next April). We stay here for a week before homestay, all the while not realizing how amazing it is that we still have hot showers and good food to eat.
3/2-4/4: Homestay:
For 5 weeks the small village of Chiphazi (literal translation: Big Foot) outside of the Dedza College of Forestry was my home. I stayed with a family of 5 and had my own little one room house in a family compound. In retrospect the training period went so quickly because we were so busy all day long. We had 4 hours of language training every morning and 4 hours of technical training each afternoon. Language training was tedious, frustrating, and fun all at the same time. Technical training included lessons on beekeeping, soap making, tree nurseries, charcoal making (from agricultural waste-very cool stuff), community integration strategies, and cultural education.
Ethan making charcoal from agricultural waste

Kirk and Dave making charcoalTalking with people in our homestay village to try and improve our language skills

Hanging out at Ed's bar on our weekly visit to the college



Training on something or another (that tall guy in our APCD, Brian)


What? You think we work all the time?

Learning how to open bee hives (don't be impressed I still don't know how!)
Making local bee-hives from bamboo and mud


Emily in her bee suit--we know high fashion in Malawi



Emily and I on the hill behind out homestay villageSure Jen, you are holding that bucket all on your own.
To blow off some steam we all climbed Dedza Mountain over the weekend. We could see all the way to Cape McLear and the Lake Malawi!
My bed/office during homestay
Gule Wamkulu (Big Dance). Traditional dancers at our Homestay Farewell Ceremony


Homestay family at the Homestay Farewell Ceremony


The best story that I have from training involves soap making. Jonathan, a current environmental volunteer, was teaching my group how to make soap. We had some extra palm oil from the last batch so Jon decided to pour it into the boiling palm oil of our current batch. Not able to defy the laws of chemistry, the cold oil rapidly expanded, causing the whole pot of oil to fill with bubbles, boil over, and explode as it fell over the sides and hit the open fire below. The fire ball went up 20 feet in the air, melted the plastic tent protecting the oil from the rain, and attracted a crowd of 200 people (once they all returned from running away from the exploding soap). Needless to say, I don’t think anyone in Chiphazi is going to attempt making soap anytime in the near future.
Matt after the incident--notice the crowd of children!


The night of site announcement. What do you do when you have so many bananas? Why, a banana eating contest of course! (Sadly, my team lost)


4/4-4/11: Site visit:
Site visit was my first experience in the “real” Malawi, until this point I was living in an isolated fantasy land. The first part of site visit was to meet up with a current PCV Environment volunteer that lives close to our site. “Close” in Malawi is totally relative. Your closest site mate could be 50 kilometers away, but if there is no road to connect you, he/she may as well be on the other side of the world. Peace Corps Malawi volunteers consistently highlight transport as one of the most frustrating issues to deal with. As of now, I would agree completely—it is a total nightmare. Suddenly, two days of traveling via walking, pick-up truck, mini-bus, and coach bus seems normal.

There are certain days that you don’t ever forget. My first matola ride (i.e. a pickup truck) on site visit is one of them. Ross (fellow trainee) and I were both placed in areas surrounding Majete Wildlife Reserve in Southern Malawi, west of Blantyre. You are sitting in the back of this truck hoping you put on enough sunblock to last for 3 hours in the sun, gripping to the side of the truck and praying to your dear God in heaven that you don’t fall out. You think to yourself, “what in the world has happened to my life,” as you try to put yourself in an impenetrable Zen-like happy place for the next 3 miserable hours. And then you look out to a sprawling African plain and remind yourself that you are so incredibly lucky to be sitting in a matola with 25 other people, 2 goats, 500 dinner rolls, 2 boxes of soap, and, 3 sick children-one of whom is drooling on your only remaining clean shirt. At points on our journey Ross and I just looked at each other and burst into laughter. You have to laugh at the sheer absurdity of it or you would go completely insane. Welcome to Malawi!

After spending time with Kevin on a PCV shadow site visit, we travel to the African Parks office and spent the night in the volunteer housing (which I can stay in anytime I visit the park:). The next morning I left the office, traveled through the park to my new home on the northern side of Majete. I would describe the scenery as I drove through the park-but it doesn’t really do it justice. For that matter neither do the pictures, but I hope you enjoy them all the same.

I am not going to pretend that site visit was easy. My language skills were horrible, I didn’t know anyone, my counterpart was away at a funeral, I didn’t have anywhere to sleep, a shower, or food to eat. But, through the generosity of my neighbors, they gave me a mat to sleep on, nails to hang my mosquito net, water for a bath, and fed me for 3 days. They were also very patient while I looked up every other word in my dictionary. I also discovered on site visit that there is very little, if any transport from my site. On my way out I rode a bicycle taxi (don’t get any fancy ideas, you site on a padded bike rack) for 24 kilometers to the Boma (District capital) where I caught a minibus to Blantyre to meet my friends at Home Needs (amazing Indian food-the best part about my site visit). Lets just say I promised myself I would never complain about a matola or mini-bus ride ever again. Volunteers that have the option should be thanking their lucky stars. I couldn’t talk about site visit for days; anytime someone would ask me how things went, I burst into tears. For weeks the remoteness and isolation of my site left me unsettled, nervous, and terrified to go back. I’m still have transportation issues from my site, but at least now I am beginning to deal with them and the reality that this is my new home for 2 years.

Because transportation is so difficult and it takes the Southern and Northern volunteers 2 days to safely reach Lilongwe, Peace Corps has 3 houses in Malawi: one in Mzuzu, Lilongwe, and Blantyre. Several other southern Environment volunteers from my group also returning from PCV shadow/site spent the night at the Blantyre Respite House. It will most certainly be a welcome home away from home in between long days of travel to and from Lilongwe and weekend trips away from site if needed. Blantyre is the “big city” of Malawi and you can get just about anything you want or need—pasta, cheese, pizza, non-stale chocolate, milk, good Indian food. Did I mention cheese?

4/12-4/19: Intensive Language Training:
I left the Blantyre house and traveled to Mchinji (west of Lilongwe, almost to the Zambia border) for a week of language at the Kayesa Inn. I was able to hang out with people that were not in my homestay group or the southern region. It was great to get to know different people in my group a little better. We also had the two best language trainers in Peace Corps, Matthews and Dyna, which made things fun and very beneficial. We had class outside and used the side of a broken conversion van as a chalkboard, made human sized maps out of flour, interviewed a traditional healer, and played games with the Iwes (little children).
More language, because the 132 in 5 weeks we have already had isn't quite enough.


4/20-4/24: Administrative Stuff and Swearing In!:
This week we met the staff at the Embassy, USAID, and the Peace Corps Office in Lilongwe. As in Peace Corps fashion the week involved lots of paper work, but it was totally worth it because on April 23, nineteen of my friends as I were sworn in as Peace Corps Volunteers. As a special part of the Executive Branch, we took the same oath as the President, “…to defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic...” Now, I have no idea how to do that as a Peace Corps Volunteer, but none the less it is pretty darn cool to take the same oath as the President! I spent my last day in Lilongwe running around buying food, buckets, and ujeni (Chichewa for “stuff” or “whatchamacallit”).

Dale Mosier (Country Director), Me, Ambassador Eastham, Dept. of Forestry, Dept. of Parks
Emily and Averill


Elihue, Jai-Chi, Rob, and Amalia




Environment '08 group Swearing In Ceremony at the Ambassador's house on April 23rd.




And let the games behind! Beer Olympics 2008!

Beer Olympics party at the house!
The traditional Chibuku Challege!
Emily, Mike, and Alinon in costume.


4/25-Current: The first month at site:
If you ask any volunteer they say that the first three months at site is the hardest. It Peace Corps you just have to ride out the wave—things will always get better, you just have to wait a while. Like I said before, there are a few days that you don’t forget in Peace Corps. Me standing in front of my house surrounded by all my stuff with 20 of my closest neighbors staring at me, watching my friends drive away to be dropped off at their sites—yeah, I haven’t forgotten that day yet.
All my stuff after they dropped me off and drove away



My pink house

My house after being there for a few months (I didn't have any furniture for the first few months)
Home improvment projects--great way to kill time!More home improvement--no more cooking on the floor!


My personal favorite of all my home improvement projets, the shower caddy-neccessary even in Malawi.





Back of my house, kitchen on the left



After taking all my katundu (stuff) inside, I decided my first and most
immediate need was to get water. The 300 meters down the hill to the bore hole isn’t a problem at all—getting back up the hill with water on your head was a bit more difficult. I was carrying no more than 5 liters of water on my head, but after 100 meters I thought, “Oh man, I’m totally going to pay someone to do this tomorrow.” And then tomorrow arrives, and the next day, and the next. And with each day passing day I filled my bucket up a little more and got a little closer to my house without thinking that I wanted to pay someone to do it for me. After a month I can carry 15 liters on my head without too much trouble. One time, after a really horrible day, I was sitting with my neighbors and told them I need to go and get water, but that I wasn’t very good at it. The oldest amayi (mother) in my family compound looked at me and said, “Mumakwanza.” Literally, “You are always enough.” I don’t think she could have said anything else that would have made me feel as good as I did in that moment.

I assume that many of you probably want the rundown of what I have been doing in my first three months in the village. There are two CBOs (Community Bases Organizations) that are within a reasonable walking/biking distance from my home. N. CBO (Sorry I can’t post the full name for security reasons) is in my village, and M. CBO is 6 kilometers from my house. N. CBO has more than enough groups to keep my busy for 2 years. I met with several groups, but still have many others to meet in the next month or two. Under N. CBO there are 4 beekeeping clubs that collectively have 30 hives, 2 vegetable growing clubs, 2 baking clubs, a brand new mushroom IGA (Income Generating Activity), a Home Based Care Group, a Women’s Rabbit IGA, 2 Poultry IGAs, and probably a few others under N. CBO that I don’t even know about yet.

On a personal level, I am really excited to work with the Home Based Care Group because all their efforts go back into the community; HBC groups are needed because they help the community take care of itself—it’s a form of a social net that wouldn’t exist otherwise. The group currently cares for 2 elderly people, 2 HIV patients, and 36 orphans. They have a very large vegetable garden to help feed the people they take care of, and try to make money through making and selling clay pots and baskets. I am hoping to get them started on a Jam Making IGA which would help pay for the cost of a Peanut Sheller (www.fullbellyproject.com –check it out, awesome idea!) that could be rented out for a fee per kilogram of unshelled peanuts. The group really wants to start a Soap Making IGA. Soap could both sold for extra income and distributed to those that cannot afford it—health and hygiene is critical to maintaining wellness for HIV/AIDS patients. This group is really motivated despite the challenges they face.

As expected, I am looking forward to working with the Women’s Mushroom IGA and the Women’s Rabbitry IGA. All across the globe, women have consistently shown that they are the best group to manage funds, projects, and pay back depts. For purely selfish reasons I want the Mushroom IGA to take off because they are one of my favorite foods!

Meeting with all these groups it occurred to that everyone needs a way to generate income. It also occurred to me that my village has so much to offer! Papaya, mango, bananas can be dried or made into jam. My village is covered in tangerine trees that would make some amazing marmalade. There are groups that make beautiful baskets and pottery. The beekeeping clubs are already successful harvesting honey in 20 of the 30 hives. The Mushroom group could sell fresh or dried mushrooms. The Arts and Crafts Club could be expanded to include 10 or 15 different items—all made from local natural resources. In addition, I think that a Women’s Sewing Cooperative would be able to successfully make and sell bags, coin purses, dresses, and shirts. For all of these groups, the most obvious market would be the Heritage Center inside Majete. I am absolutely ecstatic about expanded the selection of items available in the Heritage Center. It would be great for the park and the community.

In addition to all of this, there are three Wildlife Clubs within a reasonable distance. Of course, all of them want to take a field trip to the park, which I think is a wonderful idea. One of them wants to establish a Wildlife Library and the teachers could definitely use some fresh ideas and lessons plans that would keep the children interested.
Getting stuck in the mud while going to visit a community that was very far from my home. I so told them we would get stuck.View from the village we were traveling to looking into Majete National Park.



A drama by the local club sensitizing villagers about the upcoming elephant translocation from Liwonde National Park to Majete (More on that later!).

I walked to the northern scout camp to say hello to all the scouts and their kids.
Zebra inside Majete--my first game siting, I think they are still my favorite.


View from the hill overlooking my village on the way back from walk to scout camp.



After 5 very long, but rewarding weeks at my site, I was ready to see my friends. So last week I travelled to Lilongwe for trainings with Peace Corps, restocking on food and ujeni, eating lots of dairy products, catching up with friends and hearing about their sites, and celebrating the 4th of July (a bit early) at the Ambassadors house. It was a great week, but much to my surprise I am really ready to get back to my house and my village. Every now and then you need those breaks to get you excited about going back to the village for a while.

4th of July at the Ambassador's House.


But, before I went back to my village I headed down to the African Parks office on the east side of the park to get to know the staff and the resources available to me at the park. Shamelessly, I also wanted to go because this month the park is translocation 70 elephants from Liwonde National Park to Majete Wildlife Reserve. Yesterday may have been the coolest day of my whole entire life to date.


The platfrom for offloading the elephants. The truck backs up to it and the the elephants walk down a ramp on the other side.

Waiting for the elephants to arrive, watching the sunset over Majete NP.


Jeanette and Caroline waiting for the elephants.

Catherine came for a site visit and took this picture of me on the way back from our walk to the site camp.


After receiving word from Liwonde that the truck would be arriving soon, we jumped in the game vehicles and drove to the offloading area on the south side of the park. Just as the sun was setting, a family herd of 9 elephants arrived. Before we could even see the truck we heard the elephants trumpeting. Once the truck backed up to of offloading gate, I climbed on top of the steel containers (because it is the best view point and the safest spot if anything goes wrong) with the parks staff and the guests to see the release. From inside you could hear them moving around, just audible bellows, and occasional snorts that made them sound a lot like really big pigs! After 30 minutes of poking and prodding, as the last bit of light was in the sky, the elephants marched out of the container in a neat little line down the ramp into the holding area. As they walked away you could hear them talking to each other and smashing branching as they went. It was a completely surreal experience. There wasn’t enough light to take pictures with my camera, but I am hoping that the parks staff will have some from another release that I can send home to you. These translocations will almost double the population of elephants in the park. We are also receiving nearly 800 other animals from Liwonde, including zebra, antelope, and springboks.

Typical and Atypical days:
A lot of people have written to ask what my typical day looks like. I wake up at 5 AM with the sun and wander around my house for a bit until I feel that I’m awake enough to practice yoga. It is the only time in my whole day where I don’t have to think. Think about how I’m dressed, what I’m saying, who I’m talking to, who I’m not talking to, where I’m going, what I need to do, or what I need to cook. If not for yoga each and every morning I might have gone absolutely insane my first month at site. I’m really enjoying having a daily yoga practice for the first time in my life—I can’t imagine starting my day any other way.

By 6:30 I start making breakfast. From then until 7:30-8ish, I drink tea, read a book, write in my journal, etc. Then I straighten up the house, sweep/mop the floor, and go get water from the well. After that’s all done I’ll do some work/research/get ready for meetings. The middle of the day is a bit more flexible, but if I have meetings they will be at 10 AM or 2 PM. If I am close enough to the house I will bike back for lunch, if not I’ll eat with my counterpart (Harare, extension agent for Majete) or at some random strangers house who has invited me to lunch. Meetings at 2 PM (but really 3 PM), then back home. I will get some work done while there is still light outside, then take a bath while my water is still hot from the sun, make dinner, chat with my neighbors for an hour or two until they all go to bed. I try not to go to sleep until 10 PM so I make myself a cup of tea and stay up writing in my journal, listening to music/BBC News, reading, or writing letters (which I have been very bad about lately and I do apologize). Sleeping through the night is a bit of problem, but I’m sure as I get more settled in and even more busy that I will be sleeping all the way through the night.

Now that I have told you what my typical day looks like, I’m going to tell you all the funny stories that make my day not typical. The second day at my site while drinking my cup of morning tea, I hear a band of screaming children. Although this isn’t terrible uncommon in Malawi, they sounded a bit more excited than usual. As I look out my window I see my landlord’s son carrying a stick with a 5 foot black mamba draped over it. I nearly spit my tea all over the floor. Everyone kept telling me that this never happens, they never see snakes in the village (mostly because they snakes are killed on the spot, even if they are harmless). Although it was a great consolation to hear that snakes are very rare—I could have done without seeing a dead snake my second day at site.

Things run really slowly in the village. I asked for a bed frame to be made while I was on site visit, but in true Malawian style it wasn’t done until a whole 3 weeks later. For the first week I slept on the floor of my spare room. I had a mosquito net that I tucked under my mattress, so I thought I was protected from the bugs and very large cockroaches that roam around my house. In the middle of the night I wake up and think that there is something in the bed with me. I thought it was just a cockroach stuck in between the sheet and the mattress. I finally get my hand on it and push it out toward the edge of the bed and I see lots of legs. Lots and lots of bright blue legs. I started smacking at my mattress, but it is really hard to kill something on a soft surface. So I carefully get out of my bed, only break my necklace after ripping a big cockroach off my neck. I tear apart my room to find this millipede while my watchman is tapping on my front door to ask if everything is ok. I can’t say njoka (snake), the closest thing I can think of to millipede at 3 in the morning, so I just say everything is fine while I light every candle I own to look for my new bedmate. Thankfully, the very next day my bed framed arrived and I didn’t have to sleep on the floor anymore. I don’t think I will ever forget the word for millipede (bongololo) so long as I live.

Also in the first week at site (I told you the first month is rough) I had an incident with my paraffin stove. After making my cup of tea and oatmeal (Thanks Mom!), like a totally idiot I stood over top of my stove to try and blow the flame out because it wasn’t going out even thought the wick was down. Obviously, it blew up in my face. I shortened my eyelashes by about half, got two blisters on my lips, lost bits of wispy hair up top (which are just starting to grow back), and one big chunk in the front. It still blows up on occasion if I don’t get the flame to go out quickly enough, but at least now I can predict when it is going to happen.
Many people are also interested in the disgusting things I have eaten or almost had to eat. Some mornings I would wonder why the air wafting from my neighbors yard smell like vomit. I only recently connected this to days when she gives me tobwa, or sweet corn beer. It is just ground up maize flour that is fermented, and added to water and lots of sugar. It is truly horrible stuff, but in Malawi is it very rude to turn away food, so you just try to drink it with a smile. Needless to say on days where my neighbor’s yard smells like throw-up I won’t be going to chitchat.
On days where I don’t have any meetings and I don’t feel like wandering around my village looking for something to do, I hang out in my family compound and chat with/listen to my neighbors chat. One day they said they were going to buy ndiwo (general name for side dish) and with nothing else to do I thought I would tag along. Big mistake. They went to go buy nkunguni, or bugs! BUGS! They wanted me to try one and I almost did just to be polite, but then I thought to myself, “how did those bugs end up dead?” I imagined them floating in a bucket of gasoline or something until their little legs stopped twitching. Risking being culturally offensive, I said thanks, but no thanks. I’d rather drink tobwa.

Food:
Malawians love nsima; if they haven’t eaten any today then they haven’t eaten. If you can’t talk about anything else you can always talk about three things: if you like nsima, if you know how to cook nsima, and if you don’t know how to cook nsima how will you ever find someone to marry you! I don’t really cook it for myself because I don’t know how and my neighbors and strangers feed it to me enough when I am outside my house. I eat a lot of oatmeal, rice, beans, leafy greens, potatoes, pumpkins. After a while you start to come up with interesting combinations with the 20 ingredients in your ‘kitchen’. My current fad food is leafy greens with curry powder and a bit of peanut butter. In fact, I pretty much put curry powder on everything except oatmeal.

Learning Chichewa:
Chichewa is quite an interesting language. In Chichewa, you put several parts of speech together to make essentially one word. At most it can look like this: Negative + subject + tense marker + object infix (markers for a handful of English phrases, i.e. must, should, going to, etc…)+ direct object + root verb + verb suffix. At the bare minimum it must have subject + tense marker + root verb. On the up side, all the tense markers are 100% regular—no exceptions to memorize like in Spanish or French.

The language it emphatic, but at the same time lacks words for certain things. Example, there are special verbs for cooking nsima, but the verb to sit and to stand are the same thing. The language would be relatively straight forward if not for noun classes. Noun classes infinitely complicate the language. A sentence can totally different based on the noun in reference. Noun classes have modifying prefixes for verbs, adjectives, numerical adjectives, adverbial adjectives, and possessive adjectives. Example: “My one small banana is on the table.” In Chichewa, Nthochi ya’modzi yanga ili pa thebulo. Now the same sentence but saying “My one small book is on the table,” looks like this: Buku li’modzi langa lili pa thebulo. Every noun is in one of 6 nouns classes and the prefixes are different for singular and plural. Eventually you get use to hearing the same prefixes in the sentence together and you don’t have to think about it as much.
My favorite words: bwana (boss): but we use it mostly out context and call both things a people “bwana”. Chipaliwali (lightning): it will be my future dogs’ name as soon as I get him. Makamaka (mostly/mainly): It’s just a fun word to say. Pang’ono pang’ono: can be used to tell people to talk slower, give you less food, drive slower, etc… Pepani (I’m sorry): always good to know how to apologize in Chichewa. Ujeni (whatchamacallit/thingamajiggy): this word replaces all the other words that I don’t know yet—my sentences are mostly a string of ujeni connected by some verbs.

Going back to site:
Tomorrow I am going to leave the Park and head back to my village for several weeks. Just a few short weeks ago the thought of going back to my village terrified me. I was consumed by an overwhelming sense of loneliness and isolation that literally made me sick to my stomach. While in Lilongwe last week, Peace Corps had a Food Security seminar in response to worries about an impending food shortage later this year. I was reminded once again by the reasons I came to Malawi—and despite any discomfort I may feel, it just doesn’t compare to the worries and fears that face my neighbors. It was best described to me in a letter from another volunteer in my group, and I can’t really say it any better so I’ll just quote him. “…I thought, ‘I am so blessed to be here.’ I don’t use the word too much because I hate it, but it’s the only one that fits. This—being here—is tremendously difficult, but I feel great about it. I hate so much about it, but deep down I can’t bring myself to leave.” Speaking with returned PCVs, they all say the same thing, the highs are really high, and the lows are really low. They couldn’t have been more right. Eventually, I will feel like I don’t ever want to leave my site. I just have to wait things out, get even more involved with my community and things will get better. I didn’t sign up for Peace Corps because I thought things would be easy. Even things that a month ago seemed impossible are now part of my daily schedule. In the mean time your love, support, prayers, letters, packages, emails, and phone calls mean the world to me. The letters always show up just when I need them, the conversations are meaningful and heartfelt, and the packages are full of useful things. I love and miss you all dearly and hope that many of you come to visit! I am allowed to host visitors for as long as 2 months at a time. There’s a lot to do in Southern Malawi—it is an incredibly beautiful country filled with friendly, hardworking people who are excited to meet all of you. Come visit, seriously!

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UPDATE: How the blog will work
I have had a load of time to think about the best way to communicate with everyone at home, and I think the blog is the best way to get a lot of information out to everyone. I want this blog to be an honest reflection of my time in Malawi. And for that reason I am not going to ‘sugar-coat’ much of my experience. Will there be things that I choose not to post on the blog for security or cultural sensitivity reasons, but only in letters home. In which case, my family and friends are free to talk about them honestly with others who may have not received my letters. I know I don’t really have to say this, but I will anyway. When you receive any letters from me please do not post them on the internet anywhere, send copies in emails, or give to any press publication. Cultural differences can easily be taken out of context and I don’t want any person (or Peace Corps) to get upset.

I also want this blog to be as much of a conversation with all of you at home as possible. So not only will I outline what I have been up to, but I will try to include as many other features as well. Right now I plan on having six different sections: Updates, Essays, Challenges, Projects, Pictures, and Food Blogging.

Updates: These posts will be a rundown of what I have been doing in my village, stories about amusing or frustrating moments, etc.

Essays:
The third goal of Peace Corps is to help Americans at home understand and appreciate the culture of Malawi—and I want to follow through on it as much as I can. I decided the best way to do this was to write short essays that I will post on specific topics such as gender roles, food security, and politics in Malawi. So, if there is any topic that you would like to see me write about send me an email, let someone in my family know, or better yet give me a call! I will think on it for a couple of weeks and then write a post.

Projects: Many of you have been begging (via my Mom) to help with any projects that I have in the works. Please understand that it takes a while for me to figure out what the villagers want me to do and the most beneficial way for me to implement a project. Peace Corps has a specific way to implement development projects. Stately in the most direct way: we don’t just hand out stuff and money. So when I do figure out what I’m doing and how I’m going to do it, I will let you all know via blog the ways that you can help.

Pictures: I'm trying to post them with each post, but no promises!

1 comment:

Kirk Longstein said...

The BIke Taxi,(Dampa mu Chichewa) Sucks!!! I carried a live chicken to my village sitting on the back of a bike only to be covered in chicken shit at the end of my ride! Dampa!!