Monday, February 28, 2011


My neighbor lady getting water. This was not posed, she was just excited that I was taking her picture. She was actually trying to not smile (typical here).This is one of the bicycle taxi guys who takes me for free sometimes. This is him posing...he then giggle like a little girl when I showed him this picture.
This is spoon mixing some nice mud so we can make her a mud oven. She bakes flour rolls and sells them making a fraction of a penny per each one. That business is her only source of income. She's also the chairwoman of the Village Development Committee and the coolest woman in my village.
This is my dear from Esme, half of her brother, Andrew, and Prang-Mantis (sp?) Sorry its blurry, I was scared to get closer. They bight, you know.
This is Chuck showing the world that she is a terror.

Because the internet is fast (relativity speaking) right now.


Graduate Program Search

I'm currently looking into programs involving Civil and Environmental Engineering, more specifically as it relates to international development. So, if anyone of you fine blog-readers has any information on said program, your help would be much appreciated. Masters program, not PhD.

I came into the boma today to finish my quarterly report but I am having problems with the file (it downloaded incorrectly last time I was in the office) so I'm spending my time finally looking for graduate programs.

The last couple days in my village have been oddly relaxing, which worries me because I know that only ever happens right before the storm hits and everything happens at once. There is a lot pending. I've been spending this time catching up with different people who I have been accidently neglecting, and running around bugging different people about meetings that need to happen because I am going up to Dedza on Saturday or Sunday and I want things to happen before I'm gone for who knows how long.

Ok, I'm hungry. Time for food.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ntchito, ikuyenda pang'ono pang'ono

"Work is going slowly"

A project that I more or less found funding and plans for (missing only a final budget) might or might not have been interfered with this week by a large organization here that may or not not necessarily be non-governmental. Frustrating. Its ok though. I have a meeting tomorrow morning with the village development committee to discuss said issues. This might involve me changing projects to something other than that which was more or less almost done being planned. On the bright side, someone in my village got to watch me yell at government employees who were trying to manipulate me....that didn't work.

The rainy season is tapering off about now. Its been a week with no storm, only sprinkles. I'm taking advantage of the dryer weather to make a mud oven for my favorite women in my village, Spoon. Awesome. She's actually doing most of the work because I've had too much running around to do.

I learned that, in Malawi, one is good friends with a person of the opposite gender, people in the village assume that you have promised to marry one another. I'm stamping out rumors.

Chuck plays in the mud all the time...I don't know where she finds it, there's been no rain.

This morning I went to Blantyre to try to get my old phone number back but it didn't work. I was told blank sim cards would be in by Monday but then today they said they won't be in until late March. Ugg. So, for what its worth to those who call me, call my TNM number not my Zain number. Ask my mother for it....actually, its +265881284342. On the bright side, I also went to the shop who sold me this other piece of crap phone and yelled at them in front of customers until they gave me a new battery. Sometimes if one is too nice, people try to convince the customer that the problem could not be the phone, but the user.

I just typed a whole sentence in chichewa without thinking about it....I deleted it. The people at the Mount Mulanje Conservation Trust (where i use the internet and charge my electronics) recently found out that I speak chichewa and now refuse to speak english with me.

Really, I don't have too much happening at my site right now, I'm just making preparations so I can be gone for a week starting a week from Saturday to help with training for the new volunteers coming to country this week! I'm excited for them to come! Speaking of, if there are any loved ones of the new volunteers who read this, I'll try to post some pictures of them...I know my mother definitely appreciated when people did that for me.

So...I really have nothing left to say. I'm just trying to look productive so that I am here (charging my electronics so I can later watch Pocohantes...thanks Mere!...on my laptop) more legitimately.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pamene bwana amabwera ku town, Timada ulere!

"When the boss comes to town, we eat for free!"

So, After Diana left, I left Lilongwe in a hurry (I don't like to stick around there too long, money slips away). On the way down to site, I stopped by a friends in a neihboring district. We stayed there and had a mini party for a couple days. It was great. After speading a couple of days at said friends house we headed to Mulanje where we went for a small hike to see a waterfall. When I was trying to put my pants back on after a while swimming in the frigid water, my cell phone jumped (litterally jumped) out of my pocket only to land in a small (but seemingly endless) cave-pool thing never to be found again, whether by hand or foot. I am without a cellphone.

After a while, we eventually decided to head back down the mountain. A group of people headed toward a hostil in the boma, and a group of people (4) headed toward my house. We grabbed dinner and got back home in the evening. We stayed at my house for a couple days hinging out. After 2 nights, they left in the afternoon to go back to their sites. I was left alone, theoretically, for the first time since Diana came weeks before. People kept coming over and the rain wouldn't stop so I couldn't do laundry or wash dishes (that's legit enough of an excuse, right?). One night at my house, then I left again the next morning to head into Blantyre because the Director for all of Peace Corps Africa was in town. When Bri and I got to the boma to start hitching, we came across a peace corps vehicle (in the district to check out another PCV's house). Free ride to town! We got to ride for a while with the coutnry director (whom I never get facetime with) and talk about my projects and my community, ect ect, blah blah blah. It was great! We got into town, showered up and then went to kips for a dinner with Dick, the big boss. We ate and talked about Peace Corps, gave suggestions for improvement, talked about successes, ect. It was a good time.

After the dinner was over, there was talk of dancing but we were all pretty tuckered out from eating so we retured to our different hostils and hung out there with other people we don't know (at least that's what I did).

The next morning we got up bright and early to meet for Peace Corps transport again, going to Mulanje. We stopped in Thyolo to see some other volunteers' sites, then went to the pizza place in the mulanje boma (often drooled over, rarely experienced). Delicious. More talking with Vic and Dick about projects, things going on, suggestions, successes, sucking up, ect. It was really great to and both parties were extremely receptive to anything I wated to say from de-centralizing the entire organization, to the benefits of getting ducks over chickens or turkeys. It was a great time.

After lunch, we worked another free ride back to town so I can take care of some other things, get a new phone, maybe hit the clothes market, and ...most importantly...go to BBQ at a friends house (today).

That's what's been going on here. I'm off now to get some stuff for said BBQ, maybe some new duds, and definitly a new phone. Hope everythings good back home! Nice and sunny and warm here...the rain's even tapering off.

One more week until I am no longer a first-year volunteer, until the new trainies come in, until I'm not a newby week is big. Really big. I'll try to celebrate in my village while being wild-ly productive saving the world with one pinky.

Love from Malawi!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

forgot something

Future Peace Corps Volunteers of Malawi who are coming in...what, 2 weeks? Some of you are packed, some of you won't start until the night before you leave for staging, but I bet all of you are nervous. You've done enough blog, list, whatever stalking to see the recomended lists of what to bring. Here is my supplement:

  • I brought a small cast-iron skillet to country. I use it every day.
  • Bring a tent if you have it, you'll use it. If you don't have one by now, there's always someone to bum off of.
  • BRING A LAPTOP. You will NOT regret it.
  • Chacos.
  • Old Navy/american flip flops of your choice.
  • People from my group brought some coffee and french press to enjoy during made us happy.
  • Girls, bring something nice clothes/make-up but one set for events and swearing in. You won't where them ever again but if you have the space its nice. If not, borrowing is always an option.
  • Don't worry about bringing presents for people. They're happy with market stuff.
  • Something warm. Dedza is cold (50's-70's sometimes hotter but still cold).
  • Feminine products (if you are female in any way) enough to get you through training and after if you're picky....but you should get a diva cup (they sell them at REI). Amazing.
  • Clothes: Bring the clothes you wear in the US. You'll be comfortable. Don't go out and buy all new quick-dry, anti-microbial, SPF whatever, clothes. Uncessesary. I wear jeans and a tank-top/t-shirt. Bring a few skirts for homestay (as long as they don't show your knees when you're sitting but even if they're too short you can wear them with leggings under)
  • Load your laptop/harddrive with movies, music, and tv shows for you to watch/share.
  • I brouht parmesian cheese and have yet to regret it.

Before I came, I had a bunch of questions, so if you do, I check comments...but also, you can just find me on facebook. Hope that helps!

I'll be helping with your second week of training so I'll see you before too long!

Anakwera Ndege

"She boarded the airplane"

This morning, Diana and I got up, puttered around a bit, then took a cab (split a cab with an australian girl heading to Ghana) to the airport. We waited around for her to check in, had lunch, then split our separate ways. She went through security early thinking it might be like security checks in America (not) so I had already left, gotten 2 free rides and was back in town 45 full minutes before she even boarded the plane.

I've spent the last couple hours taking care of everything there is to do in the office (medical re-supply, check in with safety and security, check in with IT, with my boss, talked about fundnig resources, got my W-2, found proposal information for a girls-empowerment camp, ect ect. This has been the most succesfull 3 hours I've had in weeks). I also wanted to buy oil presses but, as it turns out, they are out of stock in the ENTIRE COUNTRY. In the mean time, I promise to hold onto that money and not let it slip away to whatever my money slips away to. Don't worry. Anyway, tomorrow I head back down south to a friends house for a couple days (to soften the blow of being by myself and without my big sister again) then back to my house on Sunday....then back to work Monday morning.

It's been a whirlwind of a couple of weeks having Diana here. More than seeing elephants, more than laughing at her butt hurting on minibuses and watching her surprisingly take pictures of chickens on buses and goats everywhere, it was nice to have someone back home to share the experience with. I can describe things here all day long but its just not the same until someone sees it. I know that because of the, "Ohhhh, that's what you meant!" all the time.

As sad as I am to see her go, I'm excited and ready to get back to work. If you want to know all of the things we did, look here in the next week for a guest-blog entry (hopefully, complete with pictures).

Now all I need is a new bycicle pump. :)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Diana's taking SOOO many pictures!!!

Diana and I are down in Mulanje now hanging out at my house. Yesterday, at Bri's house she carried water on her head and spilled a bunch of it. Half way to Bri's house, she said the water was too heavy and made Bri take the bucket from her......that'll get her to respect the water distance....My house, however, we had to stage water carrying because my well is literally RIGHT next to my house (something she thought was an lie?) We've spent the last couple days wandering around my village showing off another American. I've been doing a lot of translation....and, according to Diana, a lot of forgetting to translate. I'm trying. The funniest part about Diana being here is EVERYONE is confused by the fact that, even though Diana is older than me, I'm taller. People can't wrap her head around it. I'm also learning that Diana is the first person people in my village have ever met who speaks NO Chichewa (they don't count the typical greetings I guess). They keep telling me how weird it is that she doesn't understand....which is ok because I think its weird too that she doesn't understand.

Anyway, we're having a good time so far. I just found out that I'm going to be helping out in the first week of homestay for the new trainees coming in this month. I'll be there March 6th until March 12th holding the trainies hands through the first little chunk of homestay. YEAH! I'm so excited!

Okay, this week, we're off to go find elephants for Diana, but until then, we're just hanging out meeting everyone in my village. Funny fact: when they meet Diana, everyone in my village says , "when does your brother, the pilot come?" (I haven't been translating that one for Diana but I thought you'de like that, Jeff). haha.

Bye for now!