June 15, 2011
Today was a long day to say the least. We woke up and had eggs (for the third day in a row) and began our trip to Zomba which is where we will be living and teaching for the rest of our stay in Malawi. We piled into a bus, literally. 27 people in a bus made for probably 15 and attached was a trailer with our luggage. I would guess the average speed throughout our journey was 35 mph. Did I mention the drive was about 3.5 hours in a car? So our journey total was about 7.5 hours. I had my bookbag on my lap and souvenirs by my feet. Everyone was miserable. BUT, I did get to watch 3 episodes of Hawaii 5-0 (Did you hear that Buns?)
We did have two stops on our trip. The first was in a town called Deadza. It had its own pottery shop and restaurant/lodge. The pottery shop was built and started a few years ago by a Peace Corps member who wanted to give the people something to sustain themselves. And it worked! The pottery is now one of the most known in Malawi. It was beautiful! I got a lovely present for my parents! J We had lunch in the outdoor restaurant where we got to meet some other white folks! Dad, I asked if they heard of anything important on CNN! (Another side note for you Dad, I’ve been looking at the gas prices here in Malawi and its 570 kwacha for one gallon of gas aka $3.08, knew you’d be interested!)
Our next stop on our very long and tragic journey (hehe) to Zomba was market the boarder of Malawi and Mozambique. A soon as we pulled up, the bus was surrounded (Ah, white people!). The venders were trying to get us to buy everything and anything. Needless to say, I bought nothing (I don’t have a shopping problem after all!!). We finally arrived in Zomba at 7:30 Malawian time. We had dinner, some tears (thanks for the pep talk Mom!) and then bed! On to another day in our African journey…
June 16, 2011
We get to meet the children today!! I woke up this morning so anxious. I had no idea what to expect and I really wanted them to like me. Each of the colleges on the trip are assigned to a school. But today, we had an “orientation” to all the schools, which was great for comparison.
We first stopped at Radford’s school, the Malemia Primary School. It was a school built within the past five years in the middle of a village. The school is the smallest of the three and each class had between 50-100 kids in each. The size of the classroom decreases as the grades increase, which makes sense. This school is also the poorest of the three. The Chibali project started by our three universities in 2007 provides money for a feeding program at the Malemia Primary School. The children are dismissed by standard (grade) from youngest to oldest. This was a request made by our professors. Traditionally in the Malawian home, the father eats first, the mother next and the children get whatever is left over. So our professors wanted to set a different standard for the children and say the youngest should get their food first. Interesting, huh? For the feeding program, the children each have a cup (that they have to bring from home if they can) and that’s all they get. If they don’t have a cup, they don’t get any food. They received nsima, which is cooked corn maze. It looks like water down porridge. It was fascinating to watch the children with their nsima. They were sharing with the others they didn’t have cups and they offered to share with us because we didn’t have any. I cried (of course). It was so beautiful to see how much these children love.
The next school we visited was our own, the Domasi Government School. This is the oldest school of three. It was started before 1964 when Malawi was under British rule. And because of this, the school looks colonized. It was beautiful. Each classroom was its own separate building. And the size was about the same, 50-100 children. We all felt more comfortable since this was our second school. We all walked around and visited with the children and the teachers. We needed to start figuring out what standard we wanted to teach. Katlin and I went into the fourth standard (again, this means grade) and just started dancing. And the children joined in and chanting “music” in Chichewa. We danced and laughed with the children for 3 minutes but it was hands down, the best three minutes of the trip so far for me. After visiting all the standards, we were assigned standard 6, which from what I could tell was equivalent to 4th or 5th grade. I wanted the babies, but they can’t understand any English and Dr. Kelly said it may be frustrating/hard. I’m excited for to teach them though! Tomorrow we will return for observation and we will officially begin teaching on Monday.
The last stop was Domasi Demenstration school. This is also a government school and the families must pay tuition for their children each year. It is 4,625 kwacha per year, which is $25. (Fun fact, this is the same price I paid for the pottery I got in Deadza. WOW! Mom and Dad, I could have sent my future adopted baby to school for a year…) This school was the most “modern.” The class size was the same but they had desks and chairs in each room. We were also able to meet the head teachers at the school. They talked about the school’s progress over the past year and gave news that their standard 8 class just took their examinations which determine whether they can enter secondary school or not. This year 40 students out of 65 passed and will continue their education ( equivalent to our high school). Dr. Kelly said when our universities started this study aboard program in 2006, about 14 students at this school went on to Secondary school. WOW! It really shows how much this program is making a difference, one step at a time.
After our orientation day, we returned to Annie’s Lodge (same name/owner as the place in Lilongwe). This was the first time we really got to explore the lodge in daylight! It is nearly 10 times the size of the lodge in Lilongwe. It was beautiful. There are multiple bars, multiple “houses” where we stay, and a great restaurant (not just chicken and rice, yay!). The thing that stuck out to me most in the lodge were the breathtaking poinsettia trees. Yes, trees! I have never seen them like this before! They are so tall with numerous branches each. I knew right then, Mommom was with me on the trip. We all know she loved poinsettias. I know she is keeping me safe.
Love to all. Keep praying please!
June 17, 2011
Today was the first day in our classroom. We didn’t actually teach, just observed. Katlin and I got a good feel about their abilities and gathered some ideas about lessons to teach. The school day only lasts from 9-1 for these children. Their teacher, Teresa, greeted them in the morning and followed by teaching them English and Social Sciences. In between each subject, we danced! The children love to chant and sing while dancing. Katlin and I ojoined in, of course. In the beginning of the day, the children laughed at our Chichewa and called us “silly” but after they saw us dance with them, they really started to let us in. It was a really great feeling. I noticed that some of the kids don’t even have notebooks and pens! That will changed on Monday! We have things for each child! I can’t wait to see their faces.
One of the children even commented on my sneakers—ugly ones I messed bought! (Yes, Mom, the Nike ones!!) I’m going to give him them after!!
After school we visited the Malawi Institute of Education where all the teachers in Malawi are trained in curriculum and instruction for their students. It was so beautiful and looked very colonized. We had our first “class” for the credits we are receiving for the trip. We got a deeper insight into the culture of Malawi. I love learning about this place!!
After class, we walked into town to get the internet at a café. It was so small and sketchy! But we had to because the internet transformer blew out and we don’t have any connection at all at the hotel. Hopefully it will change soon so I can share all this news!!!
Side note: I’ve been passing out fruit snacks packs to children that line the streets. They are all so hungry they will take anything. But these snacks are 100% Vitamin C and 20% Vitamin A with minimal sugar, so they are actually good for them! They go nuts! I gave one out to a kid today and he said to me, “You is my friend.” It was perfect.
Thanks for reading!
June 18, 2011
Today was such a wonderful day! We drove up the mountain that is about 2 miles behind our hotel. It is called Mount Ku Chewa. It was a beautiful drive going up! When we got there, we went horseback riding at Plateau Stables. The group divided in two and each went for an hour ride on the trials thoughout the mountain! It was so cool, but I will definitely be sore tomorrow!
After our rides we had lunch and enjoyed the town and the views a bit! We had dinner at a place called “Tasty Bites.” Dr. Kelly says it is the most European Food they’ve got in Malawi. It was yummy!! Katlin and I had chicken Samooahs which are basically fried chicken and chips (similar to fat French fries!) yummy! J
We are happy to report that they have fixed the internet in Zomba so hopefully my blog can be public again!