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

Henry Takes Over Malawi

 

For my new readers, I will be featuring my participants in a few blogs while they are here in Malawi this summer. Here is our first participant Henry.19212894_1649867261720804_1566548748_o

HI!!! My name is Henry Dioh and I am one of the participants with Something Amazing. I live in Marietta, Georgia and work in insurance. I discovered Something Amazing through a Facebook share in the fall of 2016. When I saw that Something Amazing was going to Malawi in 2017 I knew that I had to be a part of the trip since Malawi was a country that I wanted to visit since my viewing of the 2008 documentary ” I Am Because We Are”. The purpose of my trip to Malawi is to volunteer to teach at a primary school.19204783_1497794893617911_843008381_o

Today is my seventh day in Malawi and I have experienced a roller coaster of emotions. I have been staying in a small village called Rumphi in a house with a host family and two other volunteers. Upon entering the home I was greeted with open arms. As I proceeded through the home I noticed that the walls did not touch the ceiling, there was no hot water (sometimes no water at all) with chickens running through the home, and I would have to share a bedroom with a complete stranger. Cold showers are torture!! I immediately thought that this was going to be the longest two weeks of my life. As time progressed I realized that the living situation adjustment was not as bad as I thought it would be. I began to embrace the chaos of living with 8 other people, lack of cold water/ electricity blackouts/personal space.19243522_1649867101720820_48579353_o.jpg

The warmth of the people in Malawi, whether it’s at my temporary home or on the street, is extremely comforting. There is a strong sense of community here that I do not see in America. It brings a smile to my face and joy to my heart when several of the children and parents (on the road that I live on) come over to talk or just hang out. I love how the Malawians wave to me as I ride my bike through town. Or how you can meet a person one day and go on a weekend getaway to Nkahta Bay the next day. I have not had to worry about my safety. Owning a car is a big luxury here in Malawi ( most Malawians walk or ride a bike). The average person lives on less than $1.00 a day with little to no education and poor health care. I have quickly gained a new found appreciation for life. I think to myself I cannot complain about anything. I have three days left in the great country of Malawi. Although my time is short here I am sure that other great encounters lie ahead of me.

Stay tuned and stay awesome!

Henry Dioh

4 Sticks and a Mud House

In the last 48 hours, I have seen living conditions that wouldn’t even be fit for a dog. A house that was essentially just sticks held together by mud with a straw roof. One bedroom made for 8 people to live in, with no running water or electricity. I saw 6 kids running around who probably hasn’t eaten in a day or two. I’ve seen parents huddled around a circle trying to use the scraps of corn in order to make corn flower to have something to eat. Kids having huge holes in their clothes because that’s all they have. Looking at these things hurt my heart so much. It is the first time I wanted to cry immediately when seeing something.19126281_1648193165221547_1214204332_o.jpg

Now the reason I was at this house held together by sticks and mud was that a few days ago I lost my phone. My phone fell out of my bike basket and I didn’t notice until 20 minutes later after riding into town. At first, one of the men who found my phone demanded money in order to get the phone back. I was taken back because although I lost my phone, I’ve never been held at ransom for anything. We (my host brother, several collages and local friends) eventually talked the man down off of a high amount of money for Malawians, 5,000 kwacha (Roughly 6 dollars) and convinced him to give my phone back. We agreed the money will be paid at a later time.19126022_1648193178554879_1680735869_o

Now let’s fast forward back to today. I wanted to thank the man who found it in his heart to give my phone back because he could have sold it and brought a new house. (Androids/smartphones are hard to find here and very expensive). After talking with the school board members and one of the men who found the phone it was explained that asking for a ransom is not how the Malawian culture does things. They explained that I am volunteering in his community and that he should be happy that I am here. It is the Malawian culture return something that does not belong to them without demanding money. In the meeting, I wasn’t able to say anything due to the culture. I left the meeting not feeling right inside my heart. Therefore, I and a fellow local friend went and found the man at his house. We explained that I just wanted to thank him for returning my phone because he truly did the right thing.19179614_1648193078554889_1690278931_o

After seeing the rough living conditions (mentioned above) we asked did they have any food, and the answer was no. My heart sank deep into my chest knowing that one of the kids I teach every day lived in this house. He is a quiet student and his home life is less than desirable. Therefore I did what I felt was right.  I went into town and bought enough food for 2 weeks. It’s not much, it does not solve all of the problems these people face, but hopefully, it just makes it easier for a little while. Before sending the wife back up the hill with the groceries, I explained (with the help of my friend) that when you do good things, you can be rewarded.19181820_1648193185221545_1056498098_o

In Malawi, the average person lives in less than a $1 a day. So the next time you pull into the Chik fila drive thru and order a $8 meal but are upset that the fries aren’t warm enough. I want you to realize that some people haven’t eaten in a few days. These are the people I am encountering  every day, these are my students from my class, or my neighbor next door. This is not to shame any one, but with $8 and your help, you can assist in more ways than can be imagined. I cannot fix everything or anything at all, but what I can do is make small impacts in ways people would never expect.

If you can please donate using any link found on my blog.

Until next time

Stay Awesome

Jill

 

Continue Moving Foward

 

Many times on you have only heard about the hard times I am having. Things in Malawi for the average person is hard. I do struggle most days with the cultural differences. Many days I am frustrated 75% of the time. I want to flip tables, yell, cry, become confrontational with people and sometimes I don’t even know what to do. I feel like I am on a wild roller coaster, which often comes to a sudden standstill. A stand still that many times I do not think I can overcome, but I keep trying. Yesterday was one of the most difficult days I have had since arriving. I have written previously about my adventures and frustrations at school, and how many teachers do not come to work consistently (read off to school we go). I have had several meetings with the local head chief and brought the issues to his attention. I felt we finally started to move in the right direction, then all the teachers in Malawi went on a strike due to a financial issue that was never addressed last August. This strike has the potential to continue for upwards to a month.

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I felt completely defeated at this moment. I had to walk away from several conversations with the teachers and focus on how we wanted to divide 3 teachers (me, Tarik (the German) and Henry (my participant) between 200 students. Through all the frustrations of this strike and the many other things, here are two things I truly enjoy about teaching at the school.18987759_1640107172696813_1669854422_o

  1. The eagerness to learn.

I have had overly large classes to teach at one time ranging from 7 to 14 years old due to the lack of teachers. Today, while teaching grades 3 and 4 I noticed grades 1 and 2 were standing at the door trying to listen to what I was teaching. My class size was already 70 students and I decided to open my classroom up to the younger grades. This doubled my class to roughly 120 students. At first, it was frustrating and difficult to get a bunch of students whose third language is English to sit down and be quite. After about 10 minutes of settling down, I was able to conduct a lesson about foods that are good to eat. The students try their absolute best in order to understand what I am teaching due to the language barrier. Everyone runs up to me to get their work checked. Sometimes the students will return several times in order to have all the answers correct.  Through the lessons, I have taught roughly 75% of the students.  On average the students are able to complete the work correctly and understand the assignment given. We have to focus on the small wins.19047485_1640103449363852_313840251_o

  1. The willingness to give their last

Many students come to school without having breakfast due to the lack of food available. They may only have a few peanuts, bread, bwabwa (a local fruit/snack), or a small snack in which they are always willing to give me half. The willingness to give me their own pen or food resonates strongly in my heart. These students do not give because they were told, but simply because they want to share. I will always be able to respect anyone willing to give their last, even when their next are not promised.

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I have seen the students brighten up over the last few weeks.The looks on the student’s face when they received the new uniforms was priceless. The looks and attitudes of some of the students have completely changed in the last week of receiving uniforms. One boy in my class, Charles, was a trouble maker and never did his work. I found out that Charles did not have a pen in order to complete his work as well as not having a uniform. Since receiving his uniform and a pen he is one of my most talented students. Even with the challenges faced every day I still enjoy waking up and going to school. They say the darkest moment in the night is when the stars shine their brightest. When your faith is tested you simply have to believe that there will be light ahead and continue moving forward.

 

Thank you to everyone who has supported the people of Malawi. Continue to pray and send good thoughts my way while I am here in Malawi. Each day I hope for the best day possible.

Until next time,

Stay awesome.

Jill