Apr 17 2012

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Hello from Malawi!!!

Oh my, I don’t know where to begin my story. Well, let me pick up where I left off with my previous post.
We arrived in Malawi on March 8 and we were greeted by the awesome current PCV’s and staff!

The flight from JFK to JoBurg was almost 15 hours and the flight from JoBurg to Lilongwe was 3 hours then we got on a mini bus and it took another 2 hours to get to Dedza College of Forrestry where we stayed for 1 week. The college is located 75KM away from the main city of Lilongwe. The weather in Dedza is very unpredictable, one minute is sunny and the next minutes it’s pouring rain! The temparature is comparable to Southern California on a good day.

Our stay at college was short and sweet, we danced, sang, and wrote poems….okay, maybe not the last part but hey, isn’t that what Peace Corps volunteers do? haha. Anyway, now this is where the fun begins.. Homestay! Some of you may not know but I stayed with a Malawian family for 4 weeks. I was a bit nervous and excited at the same time but it all worked out since they felt the same way. We were told to pack one big bag since we will have access to our stuff once a week at the college. I packed a lot of stuff in my hard case and it must have weighed 70lbs.

Peace Corps packed us like sardines in a Toyota Land Cruiser and couldn’t move during the longest 20 minute bumpy ride. Anyway, I was assigned to go to a village called Chapatali, a few kilometers away from the college. After a few minutes, we arrived at Chapatali and were greeted by the village dancing and singing! Very up beat! Then after a few minutes of entertainment, everyone sat down (men and women were seated separately) and the village chief stood up and welcomed all of us. The Peace Corps staff announced our names and our host families guided us to our new home. So here’s the funny part, I grabbed my pillows and handed it to my host mom and I grabbed the heaviest bag and tried to carry it. My host dad grabbed my heavy bag, he took the pillow from his wife and handed her the heavy bag! I was shocked but I later learned that women here get water, gather firewood and carry most of the heavy lifting while the men work on the farm or build a house.

My host family was Mr. & Mrs. Ephraim and they took really good care of me. I took plenty of pictures but I currently do not have time to upload any of them (internet here is really slow…). My host brother Owen is a music artist and has an album coming out in a few weeks. He is very talented and I have also recorded while playing the guitar he made. I tried to help out with the house chores but they wouldn’t let me do anything… ahh what a life, I love Malawi! haha. My life in Malawi starts at around 5am and ends before 8pm. I ran almost everyday during homestay to keep my body to a size zero… I ran with my fellow trainees Brian and Charlie. We also run into a few trainees from the other villages and it was always fun since we usually give each other “high fives” or “Low fives”. Malawians greet us as we pass them “wawa”, “mwadsuka bwanji”… (Wawa=hello/hey/some sort of acknowledgement. mwadsuka bwanji=Good morning). Malawians do not understand why we run and get tired. They wait for us to pass by every morning and some even try to run with us.

Now, let me talk about the house I lived in for 4 weeks. Well, I lived in a private compound with 3 houses, 1 for the youngest child who is now married with an 8 month old baby, the other is occupied by my host parents with one of their daughters and her 5 year old kid and I occupied the last house. My house has a thatched roof with wooden beams and mud walls. It’s a typical setup here in the village. I would say the house is 15x15ft and divided into two sections (1 living area and 1 bed room) with a table and 4 chairs but I slept on mattress that is on the floor :(. The village has no running water and no electricity which means we had pit latrines and had to take bucket baths! Yey! I was a bit disgusted about the pit latrine at first but I got used to it. Flies didn’t even bother me anymore. Bucket baths on the other hand feels really good! My “Amayi” (Mom) gets water from the borehold (water pump located about 1/2km away from the house) and boils it. She gives me 2 buckets of Katy Perry, 1 hot and 1 cold 🙂 I love bucket baths!

As far as activities go, We have training Monday through Saturday so we don’t have a lot of free time to hang out with other trainees. However, we have free day Sunday! We usually meet at one of the villages and play soccer “Football” with the locals or we simply just hang out on the rock and enjoy each others company and exchange stories.

Speaking of stories.. I tried to get a haircut last week in Zuze (a few kilometers away from my village) and this is basically how it went:
Me: I want to get a haircut (the person i’m talking to is about 13 years old)
Him: 70 kwacha.

Me: okay.
*Then an older gentleman approached me and spoke to me in English. He basically asked me what kind of haircut I was looking to get*
Me: *I explained to the man what I wanted*
*He then explained it to the kid*

Kid: *grabs the hair clipper and started from the top, he was able to cut a little bit of hair and decides to stop*
Kid: *talked to the gentlman*
Older man: The kid said that you have to come back on Tuesday because the Barber is not here…

Me: What the??? “I was so confused… If he isn’t the barber then why did he try to cut my hair!” LMAO!!! hahhaha.

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Permanent link to this article: http://peacecorps.jmephotographie.com/2012/04/hello-from-malawi/

1 comment

  1. Marrrriiiiii

    bucket baths eh?

    your story about your haircut is so freaken hilarious!!!!!

    This is definitely turning out to be one heck of an adventure =0)

    Sorry I havent messaged you! Its been beyond insane these last two months. I seriously cant believe its May already. When you are insanely busy –time really does go by super super fast….
    Things here are good just busy …. Im good =0) trying to get motivated to go to the gym …and I can tell you I’m almostttt there!!! haha,

    next time you see me Im going to be competing in those buff girl competitions…lol!
    nah thats nastyy… lol

    sooooo… I soooooo want to go visit you and Brandon next year, let me know what month would probably work best? Im serious…. when else am I going to have two friends on that side of world….?!! I mean… if you would want me visit…? well that could be another story! lol

    we miss you in Cali but very happy you are experiencing this opportunity!

    Talk to you soon,
    Take care and send me some yummy Malawi food youve had-when you get a chance ; ) thanks chico,

    Mari Mari

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