This past weekend both Lara and I came down with a stomach bug that had been making its way through our house. We pushed through it though, and decided that going on our planned weekend trip to Cape MacLear would be a better experience as sickos than sitting around at home, suffering a bad case of FOMO (fear of missing out). So, off we went! We got in late on Friday evening, and had a fun time catching up with Sasha and Jessica, two other volunteers who are living in Blantyre. On Saturday, we spent a few hours shopping in the crafts market and ordering 'happy pants', and then took a boat out to Otter Point for a few hours of swimming with the cichlids. Then we headed back to the lodge and got ready to go on a sunset catamaran ride. It was a lovely sunset - we had fun swimming off the boat and watching the incredible clouds. On Sunday, we took it pretty easy and just chilled on the beach until we had to head back to our respective cities. It was a wonderful weekend! But, when we got back to Lilongwe, Lara and I both succumbed to the stomach bug and spent most of this week at home waiting to get better. We are now on the 'other side of health' as one of our co-workers put it when she saw us back at work!
And, Lara's university has a dance marathon to raise money for charity, and she got a kid band on the beach to play one of their songs while she danced, as a contribution in solidarity with her classmates... check out the moves those kids have got!
Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam… And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva… So tweasure your wuv.
As much as I do hope to one day be married, I was not expecting to have to turn down as many proposals of marriage as has happened before the real thing... It's rather funny, actually. While walking around the camp, there are often men that follow us female azungu (foreigners) around and propose to us. At the beginning of my time here, it happened once or twice a week, and when I dyed my hair red, it suddenly increased to once or twice a day!
But last week - last week I unlocked a new achievement - a proposal 'en français'! He actually put some effort into it too - not just a 'Hey baby - will you marry me?', but he initiated a conversation and even asked me if I was married before he proposed! Pretty impressive, so I thought I would share! (And don't worry parents and grands - I said I wasn't interested...)
Last weekend the Lilongwe three had the great fun of hosting three of the Blantyre girls for a few days. They took the coach bus up from Blantyre on Friday night, and we had a lovely late dinner and then hung out at one of the local ex-pat haunts. On Saturday, I made a big pancake brunch and the girls did some Umoja shopping from the bag of goodies that I brought home from work with me on Friday. Then we went to the local open air market and spent a few hours shopping in the chitenge stalls and used clothing stalls. It was so much fun and we spent a lot of time laughing together! I then dropped the girls off at the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre - none of them had been, and so they got to see the sad rescued lion and the other animals there while I worked on a paper for school and got dinner started. We had a bunch of friends over for a pizza party and chatted together until late. On Sunday morning, I picked the girls up nice and early and dropped them off at the coach stop to begin their journey back to Blantyre. It was so great to see them and I hope we get to have another weekend like that in the near future!
Also, meet my friend Jan! He appeared in a small flower garden outside the Women's Centre at the JRS complex in Dzaleka, and hung out there for about three weeks! Lara and I went to check on him every day when we arrived, at lunch, and before we left, and were able to watch him get stronger purple stripes while sitting on my purse, catch and eat bugs, and just be super cute in general! We named him Jan Rufus Sparky (get it... his initials are...) and were sad when he disappeared this week.
Hi blog readers!
I am still alive and doing well, and I apologize for the long period of silence - January and February have been really hectic! I have quite a few ideas swirling around in my head, and am working on getting them recorded to share, so please to expect to see some more action around here! (I will be posting updates this week and backdating them to the appropriate weeks from the past month and a half.)
Even just this weekend was crazy busy - I had my final graduate school application due (applying to teachers college), a job application due (I really, really want to stay here in Malawi, in case my many posts professing my love for this place haven't clued you in yet!), and a paper for my program due. Work with the Jesuit Refugee Service in Dzaleka Refugee Camp has been going well, and the special needs class is well-established with regular attendance from children who are learning so well! I will have a post on work coming shortly!
My church, Integrity Family Church, had a really big day today - two church members were ordained as Pastors within the church, and seven other members were commissioned into various leadership roles. We had a really big service at a local events venue that has a huge and beautiful garden, with about 250 people showing up - and when the church is regularly around 50, that is a huge increase! I had my Mumsie bring my violin to Germany at Christmas, and have been added in to the worship band, so I was at church nice and early to practice and get warmed up for the service. Let me just say that flexibility is huge when a member of an African worship team - we started the service off with songs that we had rehearsed, but a few extra songs got thrown in, and I just had to find my way through them! It is definitely a stretching experience for my classically-trained brain to think through songs without sheet music, but I am so glad that I have the opportunity to play again and worship with fellow Christians through my violin. Also unlike my worship team experiences at home, there is no real pattern to verse and chorus repetition, keys can be decided on as the guitarist begins, and if we feel like it, some people who were not originally in the band may get added mid-service! Anyhow, the service went wonderfully, followed by a huge banquet meal as a community, where we got to spend time together. I love my church! :)
I am hoping to have a few of my fellow Malawi volunteers write some blog posts to share here, and I'm kicking it off with a post from Sasha, a WUSC volunteer who arrived in Malawi in January and is here for three months. She is working in Blantyre with Active Youth Initiative for Social Enhancement, came to visit the Lilongwe girls last weekend, and blogs at http://sashagrons.com/ if you'd like to read about more of her adventures!
These 2×1-metre rectangles of brightly patterned cloth, also called kitenje in some neighbouring countries, are most commonly seen worn by women, wrapped around their waist like a towel. Especially outside the cities, women wear chitenje like it’s a uniform. But truly, it’s more like a miracle garment. Here’s the list I’ve been keeping for the past month of the different ways you can use a chitenje--it’s hardly exhaustive!
(An aside: In the aforementioned market outing in Lilongwe, our group of girls spent a long time and a good chunk of kwacha at the chitenje stalls. I also took a few photos of two beautiful women with their products. I loved taking their pictures and showing them the result—they were happy to see themselves on the camera screen, and it was clear they don’t have their photo taken often.)
One of my favourite organizations, Sevenly, (see my blog post about them for a quick run-down of their aim, or watch the infographic video below), has been featured in one of Facebook's 10th Anniversary 10 Stories videos!
Take a few minutes to watch 'Anchored' here (I couldn't find a copy on Youtube, so you'll have to click the link to see it!).
On the weekend, the Lilongwe girls and I went to a matinee concert at the local theatre, recommended to us by a co-worker. It featured the court musician of the Chewa king (who lives in Zambia), and one of his students. It was very intriguing, and the musical instruments he used were neat to experience. There were some that were drums, a rainstick, xylophone, and a thumb piano housed inside a carved and painted gourd.
The musician and his assistant wore traditional clothing made out of animal skins harvested from animals that died of natural causes. He also told storied with very odd morals at the end - we are still puzzling over the connection between some of the stories and their summation statement. It was definitely an educating afternoon and we enjoyed learning more about the Chewa culture and hearing some of the traditional music and stories.
Cute small child story: As it was a matinee aimed at children, there were quite a few running around. A few three and four year old girls were racing past and one stopped and stared at me. She managed to sputter out, "You have pink hair... like... like, a fairy!" and then continued on!
I had an amazingly wonderful week of vacation visiting a friend that I met at Capernwray bible school last week. I was able to travel to Cape Town, South Africa, and spend a week with her and her family, getting to know their favourite haunts and taking in the natural beauty of the area. I can't say enough about how wonderful the de Villiers family was - they opened up their home and their hearts and I felt so welcomed (it was like finding family that I didn't know I had - something that I seem to find whenever I visit bible school friends!). If you have a few moments, you can enjoy a bit of the scenery and adventures that I was able to experience in the slideshow below.
Take a few minutes to watch this video about a young woman who changed the way her village regards education. Her young wisdom allowed for her to change not only her future, but that of others in the village. This is such an inspiring story!
I am so blessed to be following my dreams without significant hardship, and am hoping that the work I do that is allowing children with special needs in Dzaleka Refugee Camp to attend school will result in a similar change in perspective. Parents of the children I work with are realizing the untapped potential of their children - the intelligence and fortitude that these kids have, as they see them grasping concepts and activities that they had never before been given the opportunity to learn.
I made this video tour of the house for my former housemates to show their friends and family, and thought mine might enjoy it as well - it gives you a better visual of where I've been living for the last term, and where I will be until the end of April. (And I get super awkward on video, so feel free to ignore my blathering!)