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Village in Mulanje

Submitted by tamara on 2 August 2009 - 8:33am    

I went to a village in Mulanje, right near the 3rd largest mountain in Africa.  It was my boss' home village.  I was overwhelmed with large number of kids in the area who came up to me and stared at me like I was a wild animal. They mostly don't wear shoes, but the earth is smoothen red dirt and I'd much rather go barefoot as well. There are women cooking in the same back yard: a communal event, a social network. The latrine and the bathhouse didn't have a door on either of them. Just 3 walls.  But I've come to accept a little less privacy.  I even shared the bed with the grandmother for a while.  And right now I gave up my room for a guest staying at our house back in Blantyre.  I sleep in the living room behind the couch with my Malawian sister.  Don't worry if this all sounds hard to get comfortable with, because I'm comfortable with mostly everything now.  It's just life.

On another note, I think I got my 3rd mosquito bit.  Yes, 3rd.  Not the rainy season so there's few mosquitoes.  I also ate a mouse and wanted to try pigeon, but they weren't cooking pigeon that night during my stay in the village.  Darn.  Well, I know where some pigeons are if I don't get to try it in Malawi, right dad?

I met another Maria, she's my new friend. She's only 17.  She showed me around Mulanje, we went biking together, hauled gravel from the river and she cooked the mice for me.  Both her parents have passed away and she is an only child.  I think of her as someone pushed beyond her years. Someone forced to become an adult without experiencing a full and nurturing childhood.   She lives in my boss' village in her mothers house.  She's so hard core, a strong hearted individual.    She's going to school, and that's her priority right now, one which she has mentioned to me. I aspire to carry her endurance and spirited nature. 



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 tamara on 16 July 2009 - 9:28am    

People I know:

Meggie- my sister here.  She's 20, loves to sing, is a fine fine cook, has a fashion sense beyond mine, is a good dancer, takes good care of me, shares my bed, is afraid of the dark.

Prince- my neighbours kid.  He's 8 and plays in the yard and always wants my attention.  We play a lot of games together and I've taught them a few songs.  He's an only child.  His mother's name is Barbara.

David- my host father.  He's a pastor and has just retired from a telecommunications job.  He's dramatic and knows English and French. He likes 4 teaspoons of sugar in his tea, like most Malawians.

Chimwemwe- my 25 yr old sister.  She has one child, Gerradi and is getting married in December.  She will move to South Africa with her fiance.

Blue frogs and dead goats

Submitted by tamara on 16 July 2009 - 9:06am    

Hey, sorry it’s been rather hectic but I’m doing good and feeling good and Malawi is growing on me.


Top 10 Ndiwo (relishes to eat with nsima)


What’s nsima?  WHAT’s NSIMA?! Well, I’ll tell you:

It’s made of maize flour and water, cooked to a precise texture that you make round blobs with about the size of a baseball.  It is then used to scoop up the relishes in bite size pieces with your hand.  We eat it every day, sometimes twice a day: for supper and lunch.

I like it.



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.

top 10s

Submitted by tamara on 24 June 2009 - 8:14am    

Hey all you great people, thanks for hearin my stories.

I made a collection of top 10's to keep you up on life a bit. 

Top 10 animals I have seen so far:

crocadile (it was in a pit, someone had it as a show pet)

turtle (it shared the pit with the crocadile)

monkey (they were jumpin around on trees at Sanga Bay and on the roof of our hostile)

bat (swooped down as we were swimming in lake Malawi at night)

toad (I caught a big mad toad and called it Harry)

birds (there were thousands of crows one day as I was walking in the city. they were flyiny high and it was crazy man)

dog (our pet dog here is called Boosh, he's warming up to me, I keep my distance cause I'm afraid of rabies)

cat(2 cats live and eat with us, they're small)

lizzard(speedy little devils, they're everywhere. I caught one once and it's tail fell off, sorry little guy)

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…

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