There are a lot of iwes* (kids) that live near me, mostly between the ages of 3-10. They come over everyday, sometimes several times in a day. Often when I am napping or working on a lesson plan and don't want to be disturbed. They knock and knock and knock on my gate until I answer. Then they say, "Tikufuna kuwerenga" or "Tikifuna kuphunzira English." (That's, we want to read and we want to learn English, respectively). Even if I am tired or busy, how can I refuse them?
We have a whole routine now. They come in and sit on the porch. I take out my little box of books and games and art supplies that I keep for them to play with. (Kinda like a "kid kit" from The Babysitter's Club, if you ever read those books). They take out what they want, and put it away when they are done. Sometimes I read with them or we use my flashcards to practice English. Sometimes they read while I work on my lesson plans. If I have power I might make them a cup of tea or give them some of my bread. It's a good time.
They love when I take pictures. They know I like to photograph the wildlife in my yard, so now when they see a bug they grab it and say, "Kujumbula!" which is Chichewa for take a photo. The other day they found a snakeskin near my lemongrass plant. They immediately picked it up and said "kujumbula". So I went and got my camera, and somehow we ended up doing a photoshoot.
For the record, I did not tell them how to pose. This is all their own idea. I just suggested the backgrounds. The fruits and faces are all them..
This girl is the happiest girl in Malawi. Her name is Aisha and I have known her since she could barely walk. Even then she always had a smile on her face. Now she knows my name and says "Hi" and "Bye" to me when she sees me. She always brings a smile to my face.
Those are my iwes. They keep me company, they drive me crazy, we laugh together, and my service would not be the same without them!
*Note: the Chichewa word for kids is "ana". "Iwes" is PCV slang for kids, since when mothers call for their kids here they always add "-iwe" to the ends of their names, like "Stesi-iwe!" Iwe translates to you, informally. So we PCVs call all the kids "iwes". It's funny to us, but maybe you have to live here to appreciate the humour.