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Colleen's blog


Submitted by colleen on 29 July 2009 - 6:04am    


“I wish that I was white so I could have beautiful long hair.”
At the secondary school where I am staying, I started meeting with the girls boarding there every Sunday. The first Sunday I was a little overwhelmed as ten, twenty, and then forty or so girls encircled me and simultaneously tried to engage me in conversation, but it soon became the highlight of my week. These girls were spunky, intelligent, and completely loveable- I have some excellent videos of us dancing to show you when I get home. Last Sunday was our last meeting because the school term was coming to a close and they were returning home. I really wanted to have something to show people at home how wonderful these girls are and thought I would compile some sort of booklet of their pictures and hopes/dreams for the future. As I am sure many of you have already deduced, this is where the blog title comes in. 


Submitted by colleen on 1 July 2009 - 2:41am    

I want to introduce you to a girl who calms my tears but also makes being here more terrifying and difficult. Lusungu (pronounced la-soon-goo) is a 5 year old girl from my village, Chimembe and if I had to choose two words to describe her they would be incorrigible and jubilant. But, of course, two words are not sufficient and descriptions rife with adjectives do little but conjure a collaged or fragmented image devised of people you associate with such adjectives. Instead, I am going tell you what I know of Lusungu.

CLTS, yo!

Submitted by colleen on 17 June 2009 - 3:23am    


Community Led Total Sanitation
Last week, with a team of Mr. Chuma, Mr. Msowoya, Mr. Maswaswa, Mr. Jella, Mr. Dambula, and myself, we implemented CLTS in four villages: Alick Ndabandaba, Mmbocho Malindi, Chapuma and Chinganyama Nkhata, Yelemiya Shumba. We intended to trigger five villages but last Monday there was a terrible accident where a truck rolled over killing 13 people instantly. Two of the people killed were from the village Chikondawanga Lusale and on Tuesday when we went for CLTS we found that most of the villagers had gone to the funeral so the facilitators changed the plan and decided to give ‘civic education’ to the few villagers in attendance. The civic education was basically a lecture style approach to raising the community’s awareness and encourages them to practice ‘good’ sanitation. I’ll admit, to me the civic education principles seem archaic compared to CLTS where the idea is that the community has the ability to come to their own awareness and in doing so, there is more incentive for them to change their behavior. But I am just a punk white girl wearing a chitenje trying to understand my place in the chaos that is international development…


Submitted by colleen on 9 June 2009 - 1:50am    


The Malawi WASH Movement Initiative
Last week, Mr. Chuma, the water monitoring assistant I am working with, and myself visited two villages to implement the WASH movement. We spend the afternoons of Monday and Tuesday with the children in Chapamba village and Wednesday and Thursday with the Samson village children. It was awesome to spend the week with children; I too easily forget the magic they are capable of.

What I *think* I am doing here...

Submitted by colleen on 28 May 2009 - 3:56am    


I have spent the last two days on the back of a moto flying through the hills and down the rutted paths of the Mzimba district. Mr. Chuma, the water monitoring assistant (WMA) I am working with, and I visited seven villages to set up times for implementing Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) and the Malawi WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) Movement Initiative. Both programs are similar in terms of the desired outcomes: empowering communities to adopt the use of latrines with a drop-hole cover. 

Mzimba, Malawi

Submitted by colleen on 20 May 2009 - 7:50am    


I am finally in Mzimba where I will be spending my next three months volunteering at the District Water Office (DWO) working in the Water and Sanitation sector.  After a five hour bus ride from Lilongwe, I arrived here last Sunday evening with my coach, Alynne.  We spent the night in a guesthouse just outside of the boma where we were treated with a delicious supper and hot showers (I shared mine with a frog!).  On Monday morning, Mr. Dambula, the man I will be working for/with this summer, came to collect us and brought us to the office.  Mr. Dambula is one of the most inspirational and intelligent beings I have ever met; I feel very privileged to be working with him and I know that he will teach me alot this summer.  

Tremendous Trembles of Anxious Anticipation

Submitted by colleen on 3 May 2009 - 1:45pm    


Hello, how are you?  Or in Tumbuka, Muli uli? 

My name is Colleen Steele and I will be spending my summer in Malawi with Engineers Without Borders.  I wish that I could give you the specifics of my upcoming placement, but I am still waiting for those specifics to be confirmed.  I am going to try and keep this first post short, sweet, and salty and hopefully get you salivating for more...

Through this blog, I hope to share with you my conundrums, laughter, torments, demystifications, euphoria, perspectives, and (hopefully in smaller quantities) despairs over my next four months of volunteering in Malawi with EWB.

Tears, sweat, and blood,


PS- I know the band's name is 'Blood, Sweat, & Tears.'  Tears, sweat, and blood is the order these fluids most commonly leave my body...


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