Friday, November 27, 2015


The rodent is back. It was quiet for a few days, but now it is knocking stuff over at night again and keeping me up. It actually might be under my bed right now...?

At first I assumed it was a mouse, but then when I saw it in my room it looked like a rat. It was like a deer in the headlights. Or more accurately, a rat in the flashlight.

Then yesterday I heard a noise in my kitchen around 6:30pm. I turned on the light, and saw this:

Notice that it is clinging to the wall! Did you know they could climb walls? Me neither, before Malawi. I am learning so much here.

Looking at it, I'm not sure if it is a mouse or a rat. So I'm calling it Mouserat a la Parks and Rec. Feel free to weigh in on this one.

I'm keeping all my food in ziplock bags to keep out ants and roaches, and then in buckets with kids to keep out rodents. But I need a new bucket because last night I ran out of room and had to sleep with my bread in my mosquito net with me. It was intact and rodent-free by morning though, and that is what counts.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving from Malawi

Just like last year, Thursday started like just a normal day. I went to school and taught my classes, well class, since my second one was cancelled so the students could hear a motivational talk about blood transfusions.

But in the afternoon my friend came by and the festivities began. I was planning to cook over charcoal because the power had been out all day, but it came on around 4pm. It was a Thanksgiving miracle!

The menu was mashed potatoes and a Sprouts pumpkin soup that my Mom had sent in a care package. (Thanks, Mom!) I also had picked up some green beans (ziteba) from the village market, so our meal was looking pretty festive. And then we got a little crazy.

I had picked up some chive flavored cream cheese the day before in Blantyre, and without refrigeration this was probably the last day it was edible. So we threw that into the potatoes.

Then we poured the heated soup over that, and topped it off with our lightly cooked green beans.

This was the delicious result:

(It tasted better than it looks, I promise).

We were both stuffed after our meal, as is appropriate on the holiday. It was a good day. And this marks the end of my last Thanksgiving in Malawi. I'm looking forward to a dinner with all the fixins back Home next year!

Thanksgiving is a time to say thanks, and I have a lot to be thankful for. I'm thankful to Colii for this crazy PC adventure we are on together. I'm thankful for my site and my school and that I get the opportunity to experience all this. And I am so thankful to all of my family and friends and for all your love and support and letters and emails (and care packages!) while I do this. I miss you all so much. Ndathokoza kwambiri (I am very thankful).

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

10 Best Things about Hot Season

We have had some pretty hot days here in southern Malawi the past couple weeks. Like today. And hot days mean long, sweltering, sleepless nights. Which makes me pretty cranky.

It's not all bad though, as I try to remind myself. So here are the 10 best things about Hot Season, which I will miss when the rains come.

1) My laundry dries really fast. I can start laundry at noon if I want to still manage to have a few loads all dry on my clothesline before dark. I can even (gasp) do laundry afterschool if I want to.

2) My dishes dry really fast too. I can wash a plastic plate and it will be dry 10 minutes later. I don't have many dishes so this is pretty nice.

3) I don't have to heat my bath water. This is double nice because it means less work, and a cold bath water on a hot day is pretty much the only way to cool off in the village.

4) Mangos! Mangos! Mangos! Hot Season means mangos are cheap and plentiful. I love the big green ones the best. When it's too hot to cook, a mango or two make a nice snack.

5) (Relatively) clean feet. Yes my feet are always dirty because everything is covered in dirt in the village and it's impossible to get truly clean. But compared to the mud of Rainy Season, my feet are pretty clean this time of year.

6) I can actually mop. During Rainy Season and Cold Season it takes so long for the floor to dry that I don't bother mopping. (Sssh, don't tell the amayis). But this time of year I can mop and the floor dries within 30 minutes. Which means my feet stay cleaner too.

7) Water is pretty reliable this time of year. It's nice to not have to worry about that.

8) So much daylight. I like having all this time to do things. It really helps with lesson planning too.

9) Lots of sun to charge my solar stuff with

10) Very few mosquitos. Hot Season is more wasp and bee and fly season. I still get the occasional mosquito bite at site, but they don't really get going till the rains come. So all this heat and dryness has it's upside.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Halloween Party at School

This year I started a health club with one of my teaching partners and about 15 7th and 8th graders. For their 1st project i asked them if they wanted to organize a Halloween party for the school, and they responded with an immediate "DA!" (YES). Now, this may not seem like a health related topic, but i assure you it is. The great thing about teaching the subject of "health" is that pretty much everything falls under it, because we not only teach about physical health (nutrition, exercise, diseases, puberty, hygiene, etc.), but we also teach about mental and social health as well...which opens up the door to pretty much everything. :o]

They only had about 1 month to prepare, and this is what they came up with (I was pretty impressed).

This is my favorite jack-o-lantern...i love how they turned the top upside down!

I'm not quite sure what the red blotch is supposed to be on this poster...blood?...from what, i don't know, but the rest of it is cute. ;o]

I love these accordion paper pumpkins they created!

The party, like all other school events, took place in the hallway.

This was a donation box they made for future projects. They received over 60 MDL (about $3), which they were very excited about!

They did face painting at the entrance to the hallway. They really did a great job at face painting!

Apparently Moldova doesn't have actual face paint or costume makeup, so they literally paint actual paint on their faces (including lips).

Final results:

My favorite part was their costumes. They reminded me of when i was a kid, when we had to get creative making our own costumes...before those Halloween mega stores were around, which pretty much sell super cheap, overly slutty costumes. It was nice to see some creativity.

Here's Julia, the Vice President of the club, explaining the agenda of the party.

So, at every event i've been to at my school, musical chairs ALWAYS happens. When we were preparing for this party, i tried to switch it up a bit and offer more Halloween-specific ideas, like the mummy wrap, which they said they were going to do, and they even bought the toilet paper to do it...but, alas, the power of musical chairs took over. 

They had other activities planned as well...but the only one that actually happened, was musical chairs. Then everyone just wanted the ubiquitous dance party...happens every time. They're so serious about dance here, about a dozen girls even busted out a choreographed was like straight out of a movie that suddenly bursts out in song and dance...but for was a bit surreal.

Here's our club. Not everyone is there, but these are the more dedicated members. I'm on the left, if you couldn't tell from my "costume" ;op (yes, they painted my lips black too). I wore a sweatshirt with the symbol that's on the Moldovan flag and told everyone i was Moldovan for Halloween. They liked it.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Sunrise over Mulanje

I woke up at 4:30 this morning to this:

It was a long night on tossing and turning (and sweating) in the heat. You know it's bad when it's not even cool in the morning. It's probably at least 75 or 80 degrees F even at that time.

Recently my PCV friend and I were discussing which was worse, the humidity or the searing heat. The heat from the sun shining all day bakes my brick house so that at night I feel like I am in an oven. When it's humid it is usually more overcast so the walls aren't as hot, but then there is that damp sticky heat that still makes it difficult to sleep. So it's a tie. But it's okay-- Rainy Season is coming!

Besides, if it wasn't so hot I might have slept right through the beautiful sunrise this morning. So there is always something to be thankful for.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Fun with Encyclopaedias

(That's the British spelling of encyclopedias. Those extra letter a's are really growing on me).

As an Education PCV I have a number of education objectives I can choose from for my primary projects. One of those objectives is increasing the use of the library. I didn't realize how much I would love this project! It is definitely my favorite part of my service.

I am the Co-Librarian at my school, although at this point it is pretty much just me by myself. The other Co-Librarian is also a teacher and an administrator which leaves him very little time for the library. So what is a PCV tasked with sustainability to do? Train the students!

We had two library prefects in Form 4, but nothing in the other three forms. So I put up a notice asking for students to help me in the library. Now I have six Library Monitors in addition to the two Library Prefects.

It has been such a blessing having their help in the library. They help students find books, put away book returns, monitor the students in the library, and translate for me when a student has a problem. They also let me know if we are low on certain books, and pass on announcements about the library to their classes. In return, the Library Monitors get to use the library during any free periods instead of just their assigned Library Period.

I am also training the Library Monitors in the use of the library as a resource. We meet about twice a month to discuss library issues and learn about the library. So far I have taught them how to use a table of contents, glossary and index and how to find the different books students need.

Yesterday's meeting was about the use of encyclopedias and dictionaries. My school library has two sets of World Book Encyclopedias and about four dictionaries, but students rarely use them. I am hoping to change that, and the Library Monitors are a big part of that.

Our meeting ended with a competition. I divided them into two teams and gave each team a set of questions to answer using the encyclopedias and dictionaries. The first team to answer all five questions correctly won stickers and Pez candy (thanks Mom and Paul)!

Here are the questions:
1) What is the population of Belgium?
2) What is a hoopoe?
3) Which country grows the most potatoes?
4) Who was Socrates?
5) What does "prose" mean?

Here they are researching the answers:

They really seemed to enjoy the game, and I think they will start using these books more. Now I hope they will tell other students about them too.

During our meeting we also decided to form a Library Club that is open to other students. Then we can train them in the library too. The term is almost over so I am hoping to start that next term.