My Relationship With Malawi

Today I woke up hoping there was electricity since it went out yesterday in the afternoon. I flip the switch, yes electricity, I can charge my phone now. I continue with my morning duties, let’s take a shower, the cold water is hitting my face just right at 6 am right before school. Midway through my shower, the water cuts off. There must be a water shortage right now, I’ll try again later. As I dry myself off I realize my feet are still covered with bright red clay dirt and have been for a month. The dirt rim on the bottom of the shower stays there because most times we don’t wear shoes. Oh yeah, I have to remember to have long tights under my skirt, if my knees show it will be a disaster while in town.19359011_1655358017838395_367363372_o

Let’s go to breakfast and see what Chico (my house mom) made for breakfast: popcorn and boiled sweet potatoes with tea. Sounds like a meal of champions. Midway through breakfast, the power cut off, another power shortage. I whisper to myself today will be a good day, I’m sure of it.19369105_1655358167838380_681591119_o.jpg

Off to school now. The teachers are still on strike, but I love my kids in standard 3 and 4 they are so willing to learn. Today I will try something new, let’s learn about a house and the things inside of a house. This topic may be hard for some students because the only thing in their one bedroom house is a small outside cooking stove, their 5 siblings, and one sleeping mat. I will try anyway and hope it doesn’t fail. I gave each group of students a large piece of paper and several colored pencils and tell them to write: where they live, what their name is and draw a house and things you find in the house. Of course, I had the questions translated to their natural tongue. All the kids snicker when I try to say the words, but at least I tried. The creative minds are at work, it always amazes me when I see at which level the students understand me.

Some do exactly what they are told, drawing a cup or a table and others draw a motorcycle. The creativity in these kids minds are endless, they just need the opportunity. This activity was a success, let’s hang the pictures on the walls to give the classroom some life. The dark brick walls were kind of sad before, now they have color and life added to them. It’s break time, but first, let me collect all the pens I provided so we will continue to have pens each day.19401048_1656894484351415_1214321883_o.jpg

Now, let’s hand out the fixed uniforms, all the kids circled around while I called their names out, “Innocent…..Vincent….Supply……Martha…..Password” some of the names were a bit unique but the kids were so happy to have buttons and large holes fixed on their uniform. The excitement on one girl’s face while she put her dress on and she had a button was priceless.19349516_1655358004505063_373039011_o

The only teacher that came today, walks up and says, “Jill I heard you have a large family at home (Roughly 10 to 12 people) here are some sweet potatoes. I want to give them to thank you for all that you do here.” I was speechless, the simple act of giving me food meant the world to me as I replied, ” twanga jomany(thank you very much)” many people can’t afford to feed their family, I am thankful when people are willing to give their last.19369166_1656894407684756_304935396_o.jpg

There are many things I love in this community. There are many things I look forward to seeing every day when I ride to and from school. The one thing that brightens up my day is when I come home and see the kids that live in my neighborhood. They all come running up to me wanting a hug. They have grown to be my little brothers and sisters. A hug and a kiss for everyone, there is always enough for everyone. Throughout the day there are times, I hate Malawi. I hate some of the cultural differences here, and many of the things I endure. I hate that sometimes when I buy chips they are stale. I hate that so many kids are going to bed hungry. I hate when I buy fries the bag breaks before I can eat them. I hate when the goats are too loud at night. I hate when the teachers do not show up for work. I hate when literally everything around me seems like it is failing. But at the end of the day, I love Malawi.19243714_1656886011018929_53289355_o

Please donate in order for us to feed more families, send more students to school and help in many ways. $8 can feed a family for roughly 2 weeks. $2 can make a new uniform for a student. $45 can send a high school student to school for one semester. Anything you give can be helpful.

Remember to follow us on facebook: Jill bundy or Something Amazing and instagrm Expereince_something_Amazing or Maybeits_jill

Until Next Time

Stay Awesome

Jill

You don’t have to like me, but respect me

(As a reminder these are my experiences. I cannot speak for a whole country or continent.)

The social norms here in Malawi are very different. I feel like I have taken a time machine and have gone back in time.18870052_1630371413670389_1293046520_o.jpg The roles of men and women are simply: the women are the main providers, whether that is bringing home money, taking care of the children, or doing all of the house duties.  The women are to go fetch water, get firewood, or sell the harvest. Men and women are not respected on the same level and I have experienced this first hand. For example, an older gentleman that works at the campsite asked Ernest (A fellow Malawian female) to go fetch water, since she was busy I went instead. I got about 5 liters of water,(4 really big bottles of water) which I had to walk about 10 minutes in total to retrieve the water. It was not a far walk but can become difficult due to the amount of water I was carrying. When I returned about 20 minutes later, the older gentlemen asked, “Why I only got 5 liters of water instead of the 15 liters?” This would have been a fair question if 5 other guys were not simply just sitting around doing nothing. I simply replied, “Your welcome for the 5 liters of water, and one of your other men can go get the other 10 liters.” It is seen in this culture that, fetching water, regardless of how far or how heavy it is a women’s job. I have walked into rooms and have not been acknowledged solely due to the fact I was a woman. This has made me want to flip many tables. Many of the times I am by far the most qualified person in a room, due to experience in teaching, almost fully completing a degree, owning a nonprofit, and have done lots of research on developing nations, but I have been overlooked due to my gender. This is their cultural I cannot change it I must accept it. Now I simply stay quiet and observe the people around me.18818060_1630361263671404_1372981790_o

The structure of work is very different here. There are plenty of men who go to work, but this solely depends on the structure of the household. If one does not own a business, is a driver or owns a farm than the person does not work. Here in Rumphi, Malawi if you own a business you are successful. It does not matter if your business makes a profit, but you own something and one should be proud. I do believe that owning a business is something to be proud of. My only issue is when walking down the street for 5 minutes you pass 15 mini shops (usually a small outhouse looking building with the simple necessities), 5 barber shops and 15 people selling vegetables. I do not know how people make a profit to survive.  This has become a systematic problem due to the lack of education. In Malawi, Primary school (1st grade to 8th grade) is free, after 8th grade, the parents must pay for the student to continue education. Parents cannot afford for their child to continue their education due to the lack of funds available. The other issue is the student cannot pass the 8th-grade exam due to constantly being out of school or having unqualified teachers. Many of the students in rural areas miss weeks’ worth of school to help on the farm or help their parents earn money to get food.18869687_1630362463671284_1301511625_o

In these situations, I cannot do anything, because these are systematic problems. But what I can do is make the teachers accountable for showing up for work. I can make sure that each day I am present for school the students are in class as much as possible. I can make sure that even if a teacher isn’t present learning still continues. Education is key to accomplishing anything in life. Although going to college and university is not always the option for everyone, education is. This goes for anywhere in the world, students are our future.  We want to make sure that each student knows they can accomplish anything. We (teachers, parents, friends, decent human beings) must uplift and protect our children so that they can go be Something Amazing in this world.

Remember to subscribe to the blog(bottom right-hand18818206_1630360453671485_572070844_o.jpg corner)

Follow us on Facebook (Jillian Marie Bundy and Something Amazing)

Follow us on Instagram (Maybeits_jill or Eperience_something_amazing)

Until next time

Stay Awesome,

Jill