You read that correctly, after one week I was ready to pack my bags and head to Zimbabwe. This trip is physically and mentally straining to my body. Malawi is a beautiful country, the scenery, the school and the people are all amazing. Riding my bike to school for forty minutes, past beautiful mountains and many Maze (corn) fields is absolutely breathe taking. Saying, “Mwawuka,” (Good morning) to every person and they respond, “Nauka Makola Kwalimwe” (Good morning, I am Fine) gives me a sense of being welcomed into the community. Having all the students run towards you as you ride into school. Or all the students staring while I speak English, gives me a sense of curiosity from the students. Coming home to a wonderfully cooked meal by my Host family and eating dinner together as family. Gives me a sense of a family away from home. Even though all of these things happen daily; a large part of me struggled this past week.
Many times a Malawian sees a foreigner, they think they have money. It has been embedded into their minds that foreigners will give them whatever they ask for. This is extremely difficult for me because many people want to take advantage and lie about their particular situation in order to get money out of you. I have offended people by saying I do not have whatever they are asking for, or told them no because they wanted something of mine(ex. a headlamp, water bottle, my back pack). Teaching at the school was wonderful. There are many loving teachers and students, but many things that hurt my heart as a raising teacher. Many of the students lacked writing utensils, notebooks, textbooks, desk or anything to sit on. The way that the students must learn is through memorization because there is only a textbook enough for the teacher. Many times teacher will show up to school an hour late or not at all. This makes learning disruptive, or for that day there is no learning that happens. These are systematic problems that needs to be address.
The moment that was the straw that broke the camel’s back, was this weekend at the campsite. The campsite was beautiful with Lake Malawi, the lake of a thousand stars, only a 100 yards away. At the campsite, because it is an hour or so away from the village (far away from a town), the food selection was very limited, no electricity, or a lot of running water. I find comfort in food, especially in a period of adjustment. At the campsite we had little fish with eyes in tomato sauce, pap (which is corn flour and water mixed together, very tasteless) and a larger fish(Almost for every meal) (picture below)
. I physically could not make myself eat the food although I hadn’t eaten all day and we were doing physically labor in the sun. Mentally and physically, I was drained and did not think I would be able to last two and a half months in Malawi. I was 5 minutes away from packing my bags and calling a quits. Although I know I can’t leave because I have participants depending on me to be here while they come; I felt defeated. After eating a cookie, some plain bread, and getting a few encouraging messages I felt better. I know giving up is not a solution and pressing forward is all I can do. It is only week one and it can only get better from here.
This journey is not easy, and I never thought it would be, but I could not have prepared myself for how Malawians live daily. I am a privileged American. I do not have to struggle to find food. I do not have to worry about whether I will eat in the morning. I do not have to worry will we have electricity this month. I do not have to worry about walking to school for hours at a time. I do not have to walk a long distance just to get (sort of) clean drinking water. Many Malawians go through these daily/hourly struggles.
Continue to pray for me, and send your good thoughts my way. Encouraging messages do help me through difficult patches. Remember to subscribe to my website on the bottom right hand corner. Follow me on Facebook: Jillian Marie Bundy or Experience Something Amazing, as well in order to get daily/every other day updates.
Unitl Next time