The People of Malawi

If you remember a few months ago I told you I wanted to know the people in the village by name. Each person has a story, each person has value. Therefore here are some of the people of Malawi. These are the people I learned to love in the village, here are a few of my favorites. Something Amazing had the opportunity to help some of these people out.IMG-20170714-WA0060

1. Chino

Chino is a man of many trades, he owns a bicycle repair shop, a few bicycle taxis, is a priest, and he always has a few bee hives in which he keeps. I met Chino on the first few days I was here in Malawi. IMG-20170714-WA0053The first few days I needed a bicycle fixed, at first, he tried to over charge us, but we promised if he gave us a good price we would only come back to him. This friendship formed and we now stop by his bike shop every day. One day Chino invited me and Tarik (the German I lived with) to go see his bee hives. Not realizing we were going to collect honey, it was probably one of the single handed dangerous things I’ve watched here. Chino and his brother, with no protective gear other than long sleeves, started making a fire under the bees nest to make them sleepy. As the flames got higher and the bees got lower, all I could hear is Chino saying. “Don’t be afraid, but be careful.” After about 30 minutes of battling bees, we got the sweetest honey I have ever tasted. Chino recently got he be stolen, which greatly affects his business. Sometimes in life, you have to reward amazing people when life tries to get them down in life.

2. Vincent Msiska.

Vincent is the Manager of the local organization I partnered up with, Kingfisher. He is dependable, hard working, and wonderful family man. IMG-20170713-WA0014Vincent is my number one person here in Malawi. He makes sure we are safe, that we have a translation when needed and that no one tries to take advantage of us. He makes sure everything is in place when we are going to help local people in the village. Vincent has 2 young daughters, Patience age 6 and Theleza age 3. An example of the type of father Vincent is, one day I gave Vincent 6 Oreos from my care package I got. For my knowledge, he ate all the cookies and we went on about our day. Later in the day, we stopped by each of his daughter schools to pay school fees and he proceeded to give 3 cookies to each daughter. I thought this was extremely sweet due to not always having the ability to buy sweets for his daughters. Sometimes it is the small things in life that can make a child’s day better. Something Amazing has sponsored his daughters in order to go to school. Vincent is also our proud manager back in Malawi over one of our new employees.

3. Mr. Konchera.

Mr. Konchera is the standard 6 teacher at the primary school I teach at. He is one of my favorite teachers at the school. In the beginning of my time here he seemed to never show up, but the last month he has been wonderful. Mr. Konchera said once about the strike, “I will teach my students. It doesn’t matter about the money at this point. The government doesn’t know this child, but I do. My kids will not do good on the end of the year test if things

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continue this way.” He was the first teacher to acknowledge that the teachers are directly related to how the students can progress in society. Not many teachers were able to figure that out. I will forever have respect for the man. We also made a deal that if he came on time and to school every day for two weeks we would take him to the lake with us, for a mini vacation. He is in his later years in life and has never seen Lake Malawi which is only an hour from him.

4. Patience

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Patience is a young girl, Vincent met a few months ago. Her mom has had leg cancer for the last 12 years. This makes it impossible for her to work or make any type of living. Patience mom was confined to crawling on the floor due to a lack of a wheelchair, we took her to the hospital and became aware of a program that provides wheelchairs for free. Patience struggles in school but really wants to learn and become better. I tutored her twice a week in English and math. IMG-20170813-WA0018She seemed to improve with the extra help that she got.  Patience lived in subpar living conditions with the lack of food, a proper house and fully taking care of her mom. Patience and her mom slept on the floor of her brother’s house, not receiving a lot of food and unsure how long they could stay in the house. One of Something Amazing’s volunteers decided to help build Patience and her mom a house. Through trials and tribulations, she finally got a house. (I’ll post a blog about the house later.) One of my favorite memories of Patience was when I took Patience to get her new uniforms and asked if she wanted to pick up a little snack since we were hungry. Many children in Malawi do not get a chance to a be a kid since they are constantly taking care of their parents o the family. Patience is one of those kids, so when I asked her if she wanted a snack her eyes lit up as she grabs bags of chips to take to school. Patience and her mom are part of Something Amazing’s empowering the community program, we have and will continue to help with school supplies, school uniforms, and food.

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You can help by clicking the link to the right.

Every day I miss the people of Malawi. Every day I feel as though  I should be back over there. Many people did get on my nerves during my time in Malawi. Just like how a child gets on a parents nerves, that parent doesn’t stop loving that child. I will always love the community in Malawi, and maybe there is more to this story.

Enjoy this video of us at a birthday party. The little kids can dance!

Until next time,

Stay awesome

Jill

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We Eat to Survive.

Let’s talk about food. I have been asked many times how the food was over in Malawi. At home I have a plethora of choices. Today will we have chicken or fish? Do we want sautéed veggies? Rice or pasta? How bout tacos? What about Chinese food? These are daily questions I ran threw my head when looking into my pantry. Americans are wasteful, we also buy way too much, even things we may not need or want. We buy it because it is there.19179614_1648193078554889_1690278931_o1.jpg
The average Malawian, even though there may be many options for food, eat to survive. Varation in food is for those who have money. Having anything left over in your pantry is for those who have money. The average pantry is completely empty. Everyone buys food just for that day and there is no left overs. Mnay homes do not have elctricity or there ar emany power outages that make having a fridgerator difficult. Now the access to get food is very simple usually a 5 minute walk from any house. The need to go to a store that is far is not the issue. Personally, I feel if the store was far, everyone would still only buy what they need because that is the culture.
The daily menu looks like, breakfast: tea, butter and bread, sometimes boiled sweet potatoes or porge (made out of NSima). One time we had popcorn and tea that was a very interesting day.20862370_1730918470282349_652235855_o.jpg
Lunch: NSima (which is corn grinded down to flour and water) with some sort of relish  (usually: mustard greens, chinese cabbage, pumkin leave,  tomotoes, onion and possibly beans)


Dinner: is usually very similar to lunch there maybe chicken, (usually once a week) and a different Varation to the relish as mentioned above. Other than the above mentioned options these are the meals that are made. (The fish I had is only had the campsite due to being right next to the lake different area ,different staple).

Each night at dinner we would huddle around a small coffee table. There was one bench that 3 out of the 11 people in the house could sit on. In Malawi it is custom that the vistors eat and dish out their food first. Now I know you are probally imagining big serving dishes, with alot of food. But no, these were small normal sized bowls meant to feed 11 people. Before dishing any food out a younger child in the family would have a pitcher of water and a bowl, for each person to wash their hands before eating.

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Now you may think to yourself why don’t you buy other food, cook for the family, show them a different variation? This is like telling your grandmother there is a different way to make a dish, that she has prepared 80 years the same way. It just doesnt happen. Even if there is rice, pasta, anything else, everyone still wants the staples. It is what they know. I can not change that, nor do i wnat to but j can adjust. I have learned to love certain ascents of the food, and sometimes just close my eyes and eat because I’m starving. Sometimes I’m still hungry. Many times I just don’t think about it. Or sometimes I make the choice not to eat because I can not stomach the meal. Meal times are no longer an enjoyable time of the day for me.


I have learned that we eat for survival here, not for enjoyment. Maybe this is one of my many first world problems, but adjusting is never an issue. All I can think about many times is just wanting tacos. I have personal found a few hidden gems that I enjoy here, like these fried donuts (without the super sugary part) and a few good cookies. Or the fresh fries and fried chicken on the side of the road. As I choke down this sweet potato and tea, I’d rather run into the comfort of my money, but sadly others cant.

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Until Next Time

Stay Awesome
Jill

 “You are welcome here!”

This blog is by Something Amazing second participant Nadia. Jill met Nadia last year in South Africa while they worked at the same orphanage. Nadia volunteered for 2.5 weeks in Malawi and here is her Experience:20747489_1723813524326177_717356181_o.jpg

Red sand. A constant smell of fire. Green trees. Mountains. Clothes drying in the wind. Women carrying buckets on their head. Goats running free. Men driving fast on fully packed bikes. Bumpy roads. Malawi invites you into a beautiful world of kindness, breathtaking nature and hospitality. To me, this simple life seemed very primitive in the beginning, but I adapted quickly. After being stuck in Lilongwe due to missing luggage, it was a relief to arrive in Rumphi (3 days too late). After only one day at the school, my stay in Malawi finally made sense.

20771836_1723813554326174_2071686845_oIn school, I met a bunch of wonderful kids who were eager to learn. A willingness that isn’t even comparable to most Danish student’s – and even my own by that age. This makes it even more unbearable when most of the teachers don’t show up for work. However, it pushed me into performing actual lessons for the kids. Since I’ve never taught in a school before, this was quite nerve wrecking. But I realized that anything is better than nothing – and we sure had fun! My background in social education work gives me another perspective on how kids learn, and the teacher of grade 5 was definitely surprised when I made the whole class jump around like kangaroos from Australia! But this is a balance. From what I’ve learned about volunteering in Africa, you must respect and understand the culture to be part of it. And in this position, you can share knowledge – and both parts get wiser.20771689_1723813520992844_1992326838_o

I did have a first-hand experience of it when I threw myself into building a house for a woman I was introduced to. A woman in a wheelchair with cancer, who really needed the help. I did not want to be the white person who just paid for everything. Therefore I started carrying bricks and balancing giant buckets of water on my head.

20746688_1723813540992842_666165478_o My money was short, but I realized something after worth: maybe I could have both given the woman a house and employed people in the process of building it? The locals expected me to – “cause I’m the rich white person” – but I was too focused on just having a finished house for them to move into. Luckily I will keep on learning every day – and volunteering abroad teaches me a lot.

My time in Malawi was definitely too short. This welcoming country is full of opportunities for those wants to get close to the African people and do actual educational, humanitarian and/or developing work. I find this simple life charming and admirable. People getting everything out of nothing. Even a bike ride through the village warms my heart. I do miss warm showers and a bigger variety of food, but I will definitely go for another Malawian adventure.20773468_1723811040993092_794954809_o.png

Stay Awesome

See you again / Paa gensyn

Nadia from Denmark

Am I home?

I felt this over whelming sadness while I sat on the plane heading home. I have been traveling for the last 3 weeks visiting new places, visiting old friends and just exploring. Which never allowed me the chance to fully sit back and process my trip. This feeling has slowly been creeping up on to my soul the last 3 weeks.20676819_1718435441530652_934425800_o - Copy

This is a feeling that may never go away. This feeling of being trapped in your own world. A world that isn’t at all horrible, a world that I have a loving family, and friends that love and support me. For the last 21 years of my life, I have had everything I ever wanted, I got into a great school, I am one year away from graduating with a special education degree. I never have had to worry about anything when growing up, or even now. For a lack of better words, America has nothing for me. The life I lived in America is not one to want to live. Recently I was stuck in Africa. Yes, stuck in Africa no way of getting back home. (Only for a few days). Here is what happened: I wasn’t able to get into South Africa due to old immigration issues. I was denied entry into the country, and therefore could not catch my flight. What people don’t realize is 90% of southern African fights connect via South Africa. This caused a big problem when trying to get new tickets. 20662636_1718435488197314_697301928_o - Copy

The last three months have been the most challenging, frustrating, wonderful eye opening months I have ever lived. I have experienced racism, and sexism first hand. I have had many people doubt my ability due to my age, color, and gender. I have cried because I felt helpless against kids who were being forced into poverty due to the lack of educational support that was needed. I have seen the sunrise over Lake Malawi a million times and it never ceased to amaze me. I have had kids trust me with every ounce in their bone and neither of us spoke the same language

20662478_1718435508197312_138141678_o - Copy I have stood in front of 30 to 80 students doing an impromptu lesson because no one was there to teach. I have doubted my ability to teach anyone anything because only 3 kids understood the lesson I taught. I have taught a lesson that almost every single student understood. I have had the lights cut off several times due to the lack of money. I have gone to school and bed hungry because there wasn’t enough food in the house. I have had meet people who have become a second family to me. People who have opened their doors to their homes more times than people I’ve known for years. Through every tribulation, I faced there was an amazing attribute that made my day.20677159_1718435531530643_370071247_o

 

 

These last 3 months I have needed more things than I could count. I have wanted and cried for help more times than I have in the last year. At this point, I don’t know if Malawi needs me, but I sure do need Malawi. The sadness may never go away. The emptiness may always be there. Maybe there is a larger picture between me and Malawi. Maybe this is just chapter 1 of a bigger book.20668109_1718435504863979_2010342569_n - Copy

Now that I am back home I will be posting past blogs I did not have a chance to post.

Big news coming soon

Until next time

Stay Awesome Jill

 

Faith to Move a Mountain

In America, you go to elementary, middle and high school, usually free of charge and without any uniforms. If desired one can further his education by going to college/university or a technical school to gain a skill. A lot of the time students must take out large loans in order to afford school. Many times there are scholarships, and other aid available for the students if they meet certain criteria. Here in Malawi education is between the have and the have-nots. Those who have money can continue in education those who do not basically are forced into poverty or early marriage. In Malawi primary education, grades from 1 to 8 (Roughly age 6 to 16) this education is free, but the parents must provide uniforms. This processes a problem due to some parents unable to feed their family. Although a uniform cost roughly $2, most Malawian’s live off of less than $1.25 a day.19911707_1686457104728486_684156964_o.jpg

Once a student reaches high school they must have high test scores in addition to paying for the fees to go to school. (Roughly $100 a year, which is roughly 3 months of salary, for people who can barely afford food each month). In order to get into university or college, it’s even harder; you must have high test scores in certain areas as well as be able to pay for school. Many students cannot pay for school, therefore, they pay a portion and truly work on faith that the rest of the semesters will be paid for. Living semester to semester not know how your school fees will be paid for is quite hectic.19897727_1686456918061838_1257653269_o.jpg

For a few weeks when university was on break we had a fellow student teacher, Caleb, volunteer his time, his entire break, helping teach the students since the teachers were on strike. Every day he walked up to the school and helped teach some classes and did it with a smile on his face. He asked us about our home country and truly became a friend during this time. On his last days, I found out that he had no way of paying for his next semester’s tuition. I felt it in my heart that he was a young man trying to make the best out of a situation. Caleb truly wants to succeed in life, but sometimes it’s hard when it feels like the universe is against you. Something Amazing paid for his semester at school. I personally know what it feels like to worry about school being paid for. It is an uncomfortable feeling and it is not something to take lightly.20049350_1686456884728508_122734678_o.jpg

I took a huge leap in faith paying for Caleb’s semester. I wanted to help a friend out who desperately needed, but I did not know how the rest of his semester would be paid. I sadly, informed Caleb that although Something Amazing could help him out now, it was not guaranteed for the rest of his time at University. It has been a few weeks since Caleb returned to school, we were informed that he has been having an even harder time due to his financial situation completely changing. Still unable to help him in his time of need, my faith started to disappear. I wasn’t truly sure what to do or how to help than something amazing happened yesterday. After contacting several people, out of the blue I received a donation to help Caleb out with books, food and other things for this semesters. Along with someone pledging to pay for the remainder of his semesters. Words couldn’t describe the excitement and relief that I could finally give Caleb some good news. All Caleb could say was, “Wow Jill if feels like a dream.” Even on my hardest days things like this make it all worthwhile. If Malawi has taught me one thing, it is that Faith can move a mountain.

Currently, Something Amazing has given a scholarship to the following people:

Freddy: Studying to be a plumber he has been sponsored since 2016.20050301_1686462141394649_644785441_o.jpg

Andrea: he is currently in high school, sponsored since Jan 2017.

Patience: a young girl we paid one/two semesters of her kindergarten year.

Teleza: a young girl who we paid day care for two months.19893576_1686462148061315_1630661825_o

Caleb: studying to be a teacher, but wants to take his degree abroad and study to be a doctor.

If you want to help send one of the following ,or another student to school please donate. Something Amazing runs fully on donations, to send one high school student to school it only cost $45for three months. Without donations we wouldn’t be able to send anyone to school and we thank you very much.

If you have any questions please contact me

Until next time

Stay awesome

Jill

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

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

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.

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Until next time

Stay Awesome,

Jill

 

 

Let’s Clear the Air

There are many misconceptions of mission/volunteer/humanitarian work whatever you want to call, the work that I do. I just want to clear the air before I head off on this amazing journey for the second time.18301120_1649851021696006_3439531867577645604_n

First, let’s conquer the things I am not. I do not think I can save the world. I do not think I can save Africa. I do not think I can save Malawi. I do not think I can save Rumphi (the village in Malawi I will be in). This is not a self-fulfillment trip.   I am not going over with the western mindset of “this is what these people need.” I am not going over to Malawi throwing money at the people saying, “This will help you.” Why are you going all the way over to Africa to help somebody? I am not going over there to die. I am not going over there to take jobs away from the local people. I am not going over to do more harm than good. This trip is not the first, nor the last trip of its kind.18342188_1597332310307633_5476053124544942058_n

Now, I know what you are thinking, “Jill, I never thought you were doing any of those things.” Well, these are questions/statements I am faced with almost every day since I decided to go to South Africa a year ago. For those that do not know, I am going to Malawi (a landlocked country in the southeastern part of Africa near, South Africa) with my non-profit, Something Amazing, for 3 months. This is my second trip, however, this is Something Amazing’s first group trip that will have two people accompanying me throughout this journey.

My big vision for Something Amazing is to make lasting programs that anyone can continue:

  1. Send more students to school/college on scholarship
  2. Create a breakfast program for the students to no longer be hungry for school.
  3. See what the access to health care entails- with the goal to educate and create a volunteer program.

Now, let’s focus on the things I personally will be doing while over in Malawi. I want to get to know the people, by name. I want to learn what it is like to live below the poverty line. I want to shine a light to the joys and happiness that even at the lowest times people have. I want to learn the needs of the people from the people and officials. I want to learn to play soccer from the school kids. I want to love on each child like he/she is my own. I want to teach the kids how to play UNO. I want to shine a light on a little unknown corner of the world. If I come back and I have impacted one person, one child then I completed everything I went over there to complete.18301195_1595435813830616_2976358664684485220_n

Also I want to thank everyone who has sent encouraging messages and have personally called me a superhero. It means a lot and helps me dearly when I am struggling to get ready for this trip. Last year my cheering section was a handful of people. This year I have a full stadium, and I am ready to take you on this journey with me.

 

 

T-minus 1 day until I leave.

Until next time,

Stay Awesome,

Jill