Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Today was a day of mixed emotions. In the morning, we had doctoral students from Malawi Institute of Education come and teach a lesson to our class. Our visiting teacher taught a health lesson on prevention of HIV and AIDS. During his lesson, he passed out condoms, male and female. My thoughts—it was one thing to teach the symptoms and good prevention practices but to hand them a condom? Aren’t you almost encouraging these kids? The kids knew exactly what the condoms were. This broke my heart. These children are between the ages of 10-14. Are they really sexually active? Don’t get me wrong, I understand that Africa needs to educate their people about the risks and symptoms of HIV/AIDS, but I know these kids; they are too young for this. It made me wonder if any of them sitting in the room had the disease. I couldn’t even imagine that. I cried a bit, and then shook it off.
When our visitor left and it was our turn to teach, we livened things up a bit! We did math with beads and used them as a tool for addition, subtraction and multiplication. Then, we let the children use them to make bracelets! It was such a hit! They held the beads as if they were jewels. They were happy and to me, that was all that mattered. We finished up the day with an art activity and a story!
As we left today, the children gave us a bag of goodies- oranges, bananas, potatoes and sugar cane! It was so thoughtful. These children have nothing and still wanted to thank us. It was such a beautiful gesture.
Peace and Love,
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Sammy set up for us to go to the Muslim Information Center in Zomba today to learn about his religion. Islam is the religion of about half the Malawi people. The other half are Christian. We met with the director of the center and his assistant. They provided great knowledge about Islamic practices and beliefs. We learned that the word “Islam” means two things—“Peace” and “To submit to God’s will.” The director touched on the tragedy of 9/11 and stated “I know the people that did that called themselves ‘Muslims’ but they are not the Muslims that I know. Anyone who believes and follows Islam would never do something like that. We are peaceful.” I was taken back at first by his decision to talk about 9/11 but I think it was something we all benefitted from hearing. He also explained that we wanted to come to USA to study and receive his maters degree but it was in the year 2001, so he was advised by his family not to travel because he was Muslim.
Next, they allowed us to travel into town and go inside a mosque. It was an interesting experience. The mosque was divided by a wall, as they all are, to separate the men and women. We took off our shoes and waked into a plain room. It was bare with nothing on the walls or the floor with the exception of a few sheets. We listened to the men praying in the room in front of us for a few minutes before we left. – Definitely not what any of us expected.
After, many people outside greeted us (but not really). It was as if they heard white people were at the mosque and needed to see it for themselves. Katlin said it perfectly, “It was as if we had crossed the railroad tracks.” The people outside the mosque were starring at us like we were awful, scary and ignorant. The children were not warm. Rather, they yelled at us to give them money. It kind of irked us a bit. I can understand it though. We are seen as a walking bank to these people. They cannot even afford the basic things we take for granted every single day. It’s very sad and definitely puts things into perspective.
Tomorrow we will finish up our first full week at the school. I can’t believe we have been there for a week! It’s flown by. The children are really starting to love on us. I got so many hugs when I walked in the classroom this morning. They are really looking forward to school every day. Teresa, the teacher of our classroom was recording all the lessons we were teaching today in the composition book we gave her. She said she couldn’t wait for next year to use this material. It’s awesome to be helping her as well. The children sent Katlin and I home with another bag full of fruit.
Wishing I could upload pictures for you all! But I will in 20 days!!!
Love you all!
Friday, June 24, 2011
Today marks the completion of our first full week of school. I am absolutely in love with children. I honestly could take a few of them home!! (Pleaseeee Dave!!!) Katlin and I work really well together in the classroom and the time seems to get away from us. I sometimes find myself straying from instruction and just wanting to make them laugh. I introduced the “fishy face” this week. (Liz, you’d be so proud. I’ve got pictures of the kids and I doing it too!) Sometimes the littlest thing we now find silly/dumb, they adore.
Tonight we had a weird experience. Eight of us were sitting in the restaurant in the hotel eating dinner. Of course, we were being loud, obnoxious Americans. Our waiter came to our table and told us to be quiet. The news was on and President Mutarika of Malawi was making an address. Our waiter starred intently at the screen. Sammy (local Malawian, works on the black market and friend of Dr. Kelly of many years, if you don’t remember) came by after dinner and we asked him if he’d seen the news. He said the President has lowered the kwacha rate to 140 for every $1 (We are exchanging for 180 on the black market). Sammy said Mutarika is becoming more and more of a dictator and that he couldn’t talk about it anymore or he could be put in jail. Mutarika is trying to silence the people of Malawi. Dr. Kelly explained later that, he is single handily ruining the economy and more and more people are dying because of his presidency. As if Malawi doesn’t have enough problems…
Tomorrow we leave at 8am for our hike on Mt. Mulanje—the third largest mountain in Africa. The drive is somewhere between 2-3 hours (due to the amount of police checkpoints. They always stop us because we are white and we have money). I’m looking forward to it. Apparently there are some beautiful views!!
The Internet is being funky again. It comes and goes every few days. So hopefully I can post again soon! Missing you all! Thanks for reading.