Sunday, August 17, 2008

Greetings from Macdonald!

I finally heard from MacDonald! You can imagine my excitement! I miss
him and our children dearly, and he continues to warm our hearts back
in the U.S.

August 16, 2008

Subject: Friendly Information


Muli bwanji?

Sorry for taking such a long time without saying hi to you. I was
just thinking you were around then you will come again. But to my
surprise you are nowhere to be seen.

Then I realised that you have gone back to your motherland. Krista I
really misse you. I write just to appreciat the wonderful things that
you didd while you were here in Malawi. I learnt many from you during
your stay here in Malawi.

My family really appreciat your wonderful and perfect gifts which you
left to us while you were leaving back to your homeland. They say I
should wish you and Lexi a good health and nice stay in your country.
They also continued to say that if you come again they will give you a
land to build a house and the garden to grow maize so that you should
have your own maize to grind ready for nsima. Though I know that you
really love your country.

Greet your parents Lexi, brother, sister, Patricia your teacher and
lastly your boy friend. Say I love them.

Malawi Final Paper

I decided to post my final paper for my trip and undergraduate research in Malawi. 

Education, Sustainable Agriculture & AIDS Prevention:

The Keys to Progress in Malawi

Krista Patrick, August 2008


It's easy to see why Malawi is the "Warm Heart of Africa" with its friendly people and warm spirit, but Malawi is also a country that faces many issues challenging the country's wellbeing. While I'm not an expert on issues in Malawi, during my time there I was able to learn a great deal about the people and the issues they face. The keys to progress in Malawi are to increase the formal education of citizens, promote sustainable agriculture year round and spread AIDS awareness throughout the country despite cultural norms and traditions.

Education in Malawi

            Formal education for children in Malawi starts at age six. Not all students start school at this age, but this is when government-funded primary education begins. Primary school includes eight years of education from "Standard 1" to "Standard 8". At the end of Standard 8, students sit for an exam called the Malawi National Examination Board. In order to be eligible for secondary school, students must pass this exam and be selected. Even if students pass this examination, there is no guarantee that he or she will be selected for secondary school. Government funds are set-aside for students that are selected to attend secondary school.

The education system in Malawi faces many struggles including large class sizes, insufficient supply of teachers, limited supplies, inadequately trained teachers and inefficient curriculum. Our main purpose in Malawi was to teach in a primary school in Domasi near Zomba. Each of us was placed in a classroom ranging from Standard 3 to Standard 7. We learned firsthand about the flawed but perhaps promising education system in Malawi. Each classroom had scarce supplies and needed renovations badly. With crumbling walls, little lighting and cracked chalkboards, it was easy to see how students lack the stimulating learning environment they deserve. Our classrooms were filled anywhere from 70 to 120 children. On an average day, at least 10 children would be missing, but there was no regulation on "make up work" or attendance policies. Some classrooms did not even have adequate seating or any seating for that matter.


According to US AID Malawi, when the government abolished school fees for primary schools in 1994, there was a sharp increase from 1.9 million students to 3.2 million with an average student-teacher ratio of 72 to 1 (USAID). This alone caused major problems for the school systems, especially with an inadequate amount of teachers. While we would think that more students attending school would be a positive change for Malawi, all of the inadequacies of the education system have caused more problems than benefits. The overall school quality is low. 80% of schools cannot meet the minimal standards for reading and math (USAID). We saw firsthand in our classrooms the reading and math levels of our students. While some excelled more than others, it would be virtually impossible for a student who is struggling to receive one on one attention from a teacher. With the average class size of over 70, it's just not possible.

Another severe issue is the dropout rate. About 60% of primary students drop out before completing grade 8. The literacy rate is also 63%, and with a high dropout rate, many students will never receive the literary skills they need to excel in jobs. During our class meetings, we discussed some of the reasons for such high drop out rates. A few of these reasons included conflicting beliefs following village initiations, female students and janitorial responsibilities, family obligations and female pregnancy/early marriage. We had extensive discussions on female dropout rates opposed to male rates due to the janitorial responsibilities that the young girls are required to perform like cleaning classrooms and toilets. Additionally, due to the limited spots for secondary school, some families choose which child will continue through school. Often this is the child who has excelled the most in school, and families need the other children for work in the villages and with their crops. The literacy rate is 63%, and this is obviously contributed much by the drop out rate of children in primary schools.


The Ministry of Education has begun to reform the curriculum in Malawian primary schools. According to their website:

"The vision of the MoEST in the Government of Malawi is to attain a stage in the educational development where all citizens shall be functionally literate and numerate, shall acquire relevant survival skills and knowledge at a functioning level of competence, shall be healthy and prosperous, shall possess and utilize communication, interpersonal skills and full tolerance of diversity for amicable and beneficial integration in free and peaceful Malawi and shall support socio-economic cultural and industrial development within a culture of peace."

Although this may be the vision for the schools of Malawi, we saw little results in the classroom. The new curriculum (that most schools are just beginning to use) does enforce more skills and knowledge assessments in earlier grades rather than waiting until Standard 8. This continuous assessment will allow teachers the ability to see the deficiencies or advancements of students before moving on to higher Standards. Also, rather than studying 12 subjects from Standard 1, the new curriculum starts students with 7 subjects. Standards 5 through 8 will study 9 subjects. In our Standard 6 classroom, we saw some of the integration of the new curriculum, but students are still lacking solid literary and language skills. While some students were effective writers and communicators, others were unable to complete basic sentences with correct spelling, meaning and punctuation or answer a simple question. Most of the work the students completed was checked for completion not accuracy. There is just not enough time in each class for the teacher to work with individual students. Also, "star students" are surrounded by other "star students" while students falling behind the achievement curve are placed with other students in similar circumstances. This just furthers their failure with no support from achieving peers.

            Continuous assessment may help with students achieving the standards needed to move forward in their education, but the teachers have to have the training necessary to teach what is required. Simple steps like integrating high-achieving students with those who need more help may assist students in the classroom. During my teaching, I would check a student's work in a learning group, and if he or she had the work correct, I'd have him or her explain it to the rest of the group. If the student needed help, I would assist. Then, I could work with other students who needed individual help. Students also need a stimulating environment with adequate supplies. The government has to provide better textbooks and materials for the students. Additionally, instilling work ethic and equal rights among students with school chores would help with issues outside the classroom. Young girls are still faced with cleaning the schools while the boys are dismissed from these tasks, but the government is trying to change human rights for women. If they started in the classrooms, it may be an effort that can translate to experiences outside the classroom. I believe the education system in Malawi has a bright outlook somewhere in the distant future, but in order to offer improvements and the education Malawians deserve, many areas must improve.

Sustainable Agriculture

During our first week in Malawi, our group visited "Freedom Gardens" outside Lilongwe. We weren't sure what to expect, but we were pleasantly surprised. Malawi spends about fours months of the year in the dry season. During this time, water supplies are limited and consequently so are food supplies from crops. We saw first hand the arid land, bone-dry rivers and land burning throughout the country. With little water coming in other than through man-made pumps, the water supply limits crop production in the dry season. One would think that this would be a hardship difficult to overcome, but some have found answers and ways to defeat any drought.

Glyvyns Chinkhuntha and his wife started their project in 1982. What started as "madman's" project to onlookers and a ten by ten meter plot of land with surrounding swamp is now a 20-acre property with endless variations of vegetation. It's completely sustainable with dammed fresh water from the rainy season, irrigation throughout the varying crops, no wasted space and a plan for the future. The best way to describe the philosophy of the Chinkhuntha is that they have their own Garden of Eden. They use only what God has given them and the land that is there. They have learned irrigation and how to use everything available to create a sustainable lifestyle. Their property and the sustainability they've maintained are examples that countries with similar farming seasons can use. Even in the dry season, they continue to harvest all that they can. Some of the crops include bananas, sugar cane, maize, cabbage, lettuce, cucumbers, curry, papaya, lemons, onions, limes, chamomile, and much more. With so many crops, six ponds, a dammed river, irrigation systems, storage units and their one pump for drinking water, their work is an outstanding example to other countries with food deficit. Their single pump for fresh drinking water is the only man-made pump on the twenty acres of farmland.

The farming at "Freedom Gardens" is based entirely on organic cultivation with no artificial fertilizers or pesticides. By using natural wastes like manure and compost, the damage to humans and nearby animals can be minimized, and costs are reduced. The irrigation is done through trenches rather than mechanized pumping systems.

"Freedom Gardens" is actually an international initiative for people around the world to become less dependent on corporate food supplies and the importing of foreign foods for survival. The concept is to use one's land to grow necessary crops and create a sustainable lifestyle. There are projects worldwide that have been successful, and this could be the solution for many third world countries and world hunger as a whole. The initiatives of Dr. and Mrs. Chinkhuntha alone show hope for Malawians.

If the techniques mastered by the Chinkhunthas could be applied throughout Malawi, there would be an end to starvation and related issues like infant mortality. Children would no longer be malnourished, and Malawians could have sustainable lifestyles for the future. Their vision is not only encouragement and hope for Malawi and Africa, but also for the world. With so many issues related to pesticide use, we need to move towards a world with organic farming to prevent cancers and other diseases. The Chinkhunthas have already started to spread their message to other Malawians and Africans, and if they continue, solutions to end starvation may be in the future. If Malawians could begin to use at least some of their techniques, a lot of problems could be resolved.

AIDS Awareness and Prevention

AIDS has become widespread in Malawi, and its victims are more than those infected. Although some research has shown that 12% of Malawians are infected with the virus, the entire population has seen its effects. With increasing numbers and damaging lifestyles, Malawians are faced with devastating realities. An entire generation gap has been formed leaving orphans and elderly alike with hardships never before faced.

During our time in Malawi, we met several people who were either infected or affected by the AIDS virus. It's easy to see how the widespread affects on the infected population have affected everyone. On one of our days off, a few of us visited a heavily affected village with a woman who had just returned from the United States. Her name is Jean and she is a Malawian who has devoted the rest of her life to giving back to her village in Malawi. Although she has lived in the U.S. for 30 years, she has taken consistent initiatives to give back to her community and embrace the devastating changes it has encountered in order to help in any way she can. Part of her initiatives have included building a clinic for her village and starting a "Grandmother's Club" for support. The grandmothers (like other grandparents in Malawi) have become the silent victims in the fight against AIDS. AIDS has devastated the generation of their children leaving orphaned grandchildren in grandparents care. The grandmothers in Jean's village find refuge in one another for the hardships they face, i.e. failing health, lack of income and the inability to provide basic needs for their grandchildren to name a few. It's just not getting any easier in Malawi.

The lack of AIDS awareness and education in Malawi is partially to blame for the devastating effects. Malawians are not informed about the consequences of sexual promiscuity, ritualistic practices or sometimes even the source of the virus. In some of our class discussion in Malawi, we discovered that some Malawians believe that AIDS is transmitted through mosquitoes! According to researcher John Lwanda, even some educated university students are unaware of the means for transmission of the disease. Malawians have also stereotyped the disease as "Western" blaming its introduction in the country on westerners (151). Some also believe that sleeping with a virgin can dispel it. The myths vary, but the root of this issue is the lack of education for the people.

            The first national AIDS campaign program by the Malawi Ministry of Health was instituted in 1987 (Lwanda, 155). This started after several deaths of civil servants and government employees under President Banda. Since then, there has been a weak national movement encouraging safer sexual practices, but many Malawians still are against condom use and the limiting of time-honored rituals and traditions.

The Malawian government must take greater efforts to educate the population. Even if programming calls for the promotion of condom use, it's necessary to save lives in Malawi. Although clinics are beginning to become available in the country, the government has to at least provide testing for its citizens. It may be taboo now to discuss the disease, but as Jean discussed with us, the more people that share, the more others will learn. Prevention can be spread through simple awareness within families, villages and social circles. Myths about the transmission of the virus and rituals that give a death sentence to innocent children must be dispelled.


            There is no simple solution to the problems facing Malawians today, but there is hope for the future. Malawians are strong willed, able and capable of change within their country. The key to each problem is education. Malawians need a sufficiently funded and supplied education system where they can learn and grow academically to become successful citizens within the country. Malawians must learn alternative and sustainable agricultural practices in order to survive in every season and provide for their children. Malawians must also recognize the severity of AIDS and learn how to change habits and traditions in order to prevent any increase in deaths within the country. The key to change is education. If the government continues to develop the education system, educates the population on sustainable agriculture year round and takes a progressive approach to educate the population, we will see positive changes for the future.



Lwanda, John. The political culture of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Malawi. Harri     Englund, ed. Democracy of Chameleons: Politics and Culture in the New Malawi.                       Afterword by Jack Mapanje. Kachere Books, no. 14. Co-published with the             Christian Literature Association, Malawi. Uppsala: Nordic Africa Institute, 2002.

Malawi Ministry of Education. (2008). Vision & Strategic Objectives. The Ministry of        Education. Retrieved July 28, 2008 from

USAID. (2008). Education in Malawi. USAID from the American people, Malawi.            Retrieved July 26, 2008 from                                                                                          


Monday, July 21, 2008

Home Sweet Home!

I'm finally back in the states but missing Malawi already! I have a whole week left to post, so keep checking for a wrap up to my trip. I never could have imagined such a wonderful experience, and I can't wait to go back someday! 

Monday, July 14, 2008

Malemia Feeding Program

Friday, July 11, 2008

Instead of going to our school assignments today, we all went to
Malemia Primary to see the start of a feeding program. Malemia is
where the Radford students are working during our time here. Last
year, a student was able to donate $100 to start a program at the
school. It was enough money to feed the close to 800 students at
Malemia twice a week for seven months. We were able to make another
significant contribution for the next year.

When we arrived at the school, some of the children were playing and
waiting for their breakfast. Each child brought a cup to school to be
served. The women of the village started working at 6 a.m. on a large
container of porridge for the students. The container was the size of
a large metal trashcan you might see at a carnival or fair. They made
the porridge with maize flour, sugar, salt, water and a little milk.
We found out later that to make the porridge nutritious for the
students, the women MUST put milk or groundnut flour in the mix. They
did not put enough milk in the mix today, so our professors had to
talk to the head of the program to make sure it's more nutritious.

After working on the porridge for about 4 hours, it was about ready.
The women poured a portion into two separate smaller containers for
distribution. The children started to line up with their cups and
spoons. They started with Standard 1, and then they called each class
one by one. Some children did not have spoons, so they used leaves,
sticks and their fingers. Others did not have cups, so they shared
cups with their classmates. Teachers provided some cups.

I took some footage of the process on my camera and of the women hard
at work. It was great seeing the children's faces as they received
their porridge. This is one of the poorest schools in the area, and
the majority of the children were malnourished. I did see some
children with enlarged stomachs (a sign of malnutrition). As I taped
the morning's events, I found Sarah with a young girl. I didn't
realize why she was sitting with her until I really looked closer. I
came up to ask what was wrong, but the child was very upset. Tears
were streaming down her eyes, and she tried to cover her face. Neither
one of them spoke a word, but you could tell they both understood each
other. Sarah had realized the child did not have a cup, and the child
spoke little English to tell her what was wrong. Sarah was comforting
her without saying a word, but it really upset her as well. It was
like a child in America forgetting a P.E. uniform or lunch money, but
this child was going to miss out on a warm meal she desperately
needed. You could see that Sarah had really connected with this child,
and it really got to her. I wasn't even involved in the situation and
it upset me. I can't imagine what she was feeling at the time. She was
showing such compassion towards the child, and in the moment there was
nothing she could do. Luckily, a teacher nearby had a cup, and the
problem was solved.

We helped the children line up to get them fed quickly. The women
would scoop a cup at a time per child, and then the children would go
around the corner to eat. Sarah and I sat in circles with the
children. I felt bad because I didn't want to distract them from
eating their food while it was warm, but I think they enjoyed the
company. I encouraged them to sit and relax while eating. I just wish
we could have given each of them a full meal. They were so happy to
have a small come of hot porridge, but it's just not enough. With the
contribution this year, they should be able to have the feeding
program every day.

We spent the next couple hours celebrating with the students and the
local villagers that were passing through the schoolyard. A couple of
the Radford students asked Innocent, one of the teachers, to make them
a drum. He brought them to help celebrate. While some of us were
playing with the kids and helping serve, others got a hands-on lesson
in drumming! Lexi and Brittany also joined in with some of the older
boys. They started off slow, but then they were able to make some
great music for our celebration! I got a lot of it on tape and
continued to dance and play with the children. Each one of them is so
special, and one of my goals has been to make each one really feel
special in the little time we spend together. Even if I'm unable to
give them anything, just smiling or giving a high five goes a long way.

It seemed like we danced for hours, and those kids can dance! I try my
best to imitate their dancing, and the village women seem to love it!
We danced around the circle, clapped, sang and tried to catch our
breath at the same time. It was so much fun! The children love to
include you in the dancing and make you feel welcome. I don't believe
any teaching was done on Friday, but at least the children had a great

After celebrating for a while, we headed into the office to collect
our things and say goodbye for the day. Some of Vandy's (a student
from Radford) girls from her class were being measured for uniforms.
Dr. Kelly and Vandy are funding the uniforms for these girls to reward
them for staying in school and encourage them for the future. If
anyone needs help, these girls do, and I'm sure it'll be a great
surprise. They'll be distributing them on Tuesday, our last day.

As we left Malemia, some of the village women were still gathered
around the drums and children celebrating. We said goodbye to some of
the children and danced a little more. One of the older women (A go-go
for grandma) came up and danced with me, and the ladies formed a
little circle. It was great! She showed me some good moves, and the
village women thought it was hysterical watching me dance like her. I
thanked her (Zikomo) and gave her a hug before leaving. She definitely
made my day.

We started to make the trek toward Domasi. It's about a 30-45 minute
walk. The Radford students walk to our school from Malemia every day.
Some of the children followed us for a while and kept us company. As
we crossed the main road, we saw a lot of people gathered on the road.
There was a band in the back of the truck coming down the street. It
was really neat! I felt like we were in the Caribbean. We continued on
toward Domasi, our school, and crossed the soccer field and river
along the way.

We passed through our schoolyard and saw our teachers standing
outside. School was out for the day, but they were having a meeting.
We talked to our teachers, and I apologized to Macdonald for not being
at school for part of the day. I told him to anticipate us at school
for about an hour, but we didn't make it in time. He's so
understanding, and said it was o.k. He did say that the children were
so sad that we did not come, and they anxiously peaked out the window
all day looking for us. I felt so bad! I told him we were very sorry
and we would make it up to them on Monday. He also reminded me that we
were invited to his home on Tuesday to meet his children. Lexi and I
are excited, and we're bringing lots of goodies for his family!

We spent the rest of the afternoon before we left outside eating
lunch, chatting, journaling and making bracelets with materials Heidi
and Amber had brought. It was relaxing, but we were restless after a
while. Our professors met with the "head" of the school district to
discuss our work and plans for the future. Specifically, they
discussed the contribution to Malemia for the feeding program, our
chalkboard renovations at Domasi, Vandy's uniforms for her class and
other individual progress. She was very pleased!

We headed to town for the afternoon and picked up pictures for our
class. About a week and half ago, we took an individual picture of
each child with a disposable camera. We had them developed, and we
can't wait to see their reaction when they get them! We know they'll
be so excited because many of them do not have an individual picture
of themselves. We also stopped by the grocery store for water and the
fabric store for some fabric to take home. I picked out two more
patterns- one for mom to make a skirt if she'd like (I hope you like
the fabric, mom!) and the other for a tablecloth for my Malawi table
setting pieces. They're beautiful! Sarah and Lauren looked through the
market for oranges, but there were not any for sale. We headed towards
the vendors to look around.

I now have a friend named Martin, and he's my jewelry guy. I bought
this great necklace and bracelet from him last week, and he said he'd
make me more. I bought earrings today, and he said he'd have more for
me on Monday to buy before I leave. I'm excited! It's good to get
close with a vendor so they'll "make you good price". Our last stop of
the day was Tasty Bites, of course! We ordered beef samosas, Fanta,
and chocolate cake! We're completely hooked on the samosas, and
they're so bad for you! But when you crave them, you crave them! Ben
and Johnny, our Canadian friends who run Africycle, stopped by and

We had a relaxing night, and tomorrow we're going to Peter's orphanage
and with Annie to a few places. Tomorrow night is Annie's big party
where we get to show off our Malawian dresses, so that should be fun!

I can't believe we're leaving in a week! I have so much left to enjoy

Friday, July 11, 2008


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

This morning was really sad for all of us. Dr. Barber (Liz from NC
A&T) had to abruptly leave for Lilongwe to catch a flight to the
States. Her husband recently had a kidney transplant, and for the past
two weeks, he's been having severe health issues. She's been worried
about him everyday, and she constantly has to call or Email to see how
he's doing. She wanted to go home before, but she was waiting for
someone to tell her that she needed to. A family friend called this
morning and told her to come home because he's rejected the kidney.
We're so sad to see her go because she's so much fun and brings so
much enthusiasm to the group. We'll miss you Liz and hope your husband
is better soon!

When we got to school today, a lot of the children were outside (as
usual), so Lexi and I headed up to our classroom. The children in our
class greeted us with "Good morning, Madam." It never gets old.
Macdonald wasn't in our classroom, but we quickly found him to find
what out what the children were working on. It's interesting because
you never know if the teachers will be present or what children will
show up. As Patty (Dr. Talbot) said, "Schools here seem to be four
walls with children." Everything else seems to vary.

We helped the students with Math for the first 45 minutes. They were
working on writing out inequalities from sentences. A lot of students
mixed up the symbols for "add" and "subtract". It's interesting to see
how the students make a lot of the same mistakes. Some students at a
table gave Lexi and I a little note with Chichewa words for us to
learn. We're afraid they're going to quiz us! Some of the phrases are
very hard to pronounce, but I guess we can try!

Lauren and Sarah (two students from Virginia Tech) let us borrow some
books they brought to donate to share with our class today. A lot of
them were classics- Amelia Bedelia, Dr. Seuss, etc. The students in
Standard 6 are truly at about a first grade reading level from what we
can tell. Most still look at just the pictures or are slow to sound
out the words. Some are very proficient in reading, but the majority
struggle. We let them read and share the books for about 30 minutes,
and they seemed to love it! All of their exercise books for school are
black and white with no pictures. They really have no access to
reading books for pleasure in or outside the classroom.

For break, we headed out to the play field for some games. Before we
could instruct them in a game, they started their own "Champion Game."
It was similar to a basic running long jump, but the children set out
three sticks. They had to run and only jump once in between each
stick. If you step in between the sticks more than once, you're out.
Each round, they moved the sticks farther apart, and wow, they could
jump! During the last round, the sticks were separated about 8-9 feet.
A couple children could still make it! They really enjoyed the game,
and we could definitely see their great physical ability. Lexi and I
were afraid that they would ask us to try. I probably would have fallen…

Following that game, we found a stick nearby to teach them limbo. Some
of them had played before, and they knew a song to sing. They had so
much fun trying to master each level. I feel bad though; we always
exhaust them during their break! They do love learning games! Lexi and
I commented that we were glad that Wednesday is the day for washing
uniforms because their mothers would probably want to kill us after
all the dirt that ended up on them today. We ended break time by
teaching them some relay races. They love to compete!

We walked back to the classroom with Macdonald and our students. We've
really come to love our teacher. He seems to care so much about his
students and works so well with us. He's so enthusiastic in all that
he does, and he always compliments our work. He even invited us to
come to his home next week! Lexi and I are going to meet his family on
Monday or Tuesday. He said he has four children (Lucy, Vincent,
Godbless, and I can't remember the other name). The oldest child is
13, and he has two young twin boys. We can't wait to meet them!

Before we left for the day, Macdonald gave us a watermelon! We had one
at Jean's mother's house yesterday, but we love getting fruit! There
are few fruits we can eat here, so it's always a treat. Some of the
children also brought groundnuts, sugar can and popcorn. They're
always so generous to give us things. We gave Macdonald his invitation
to the dinner we're hosting Tuesday night at MIE. Every year it's
hosted for the three schools and all of the teachers from each school.
Each teacher is allowed to bring one guest, and it's supposed to be a
great night for everyone. We'll get to recognize our teacher, and
we'll be recognized for the work we've done.

Lexi and I walked over to MIE for class with all of our goodies. I
thought we're supposed to take more to school than what we go home
with, but that's usually not the case. We enjoyed our lunches for a
few minutes. Today I ate my last pack of tuna for lunch… Sadly, I'm
going to have to make PB&J for the last three days of school.

Today was my day to discuss a chapter from the book. Each day, one of
us has taken a chapter from our book, The Democracy of Chameleons, and
discussed it with our Virginia Tech group. My chapter discussed the
changing status of human rights for people in Malawi, especially
women. With the fairly new multiparty system and democracy (only since
1964), government agencies are demanding human rights and freedom from
oppression for everyone. The issue is that culture has denied a lot of
human rights for women, and the people believe the new mandates are
"ruining" Malawi's culture. The actions within the culture are what
cause the most problems. Women are objected to initiations that
sexually violate them against their will. Men in the villages are
violent towards women without just reasoning. More men are able to
leave for a liberalizing education, but women must remain in the
village. Times are changing, but in almost all of the rural areas,
nothing is different. The Western connotations with human rights are
also a factor that deters people's opinion. Although human rights and
the multiparty system are a national campaign, the local
interpretations of "rights" are so different, and this is what is
slowing progress for women. It was a really interesting chapter with
many examples of field research in Malawi, and I'm sure that I can
find more examples at home.

We had a shortened class today so we could meet with the MIE professor
who is an expert in T.A.L.U.L.AR. T.A.L.U.L.A.R. stands for "Teaching
and learning using locally-available resources." The basic idea is to
use supplies that are available locally with little to no costs. I got
some of his explanations on video, so it will be a great lesson to
share at home. They use everything from old light bulbs, matchboxes
and cans to plastic bags and toilet paper rolls. One of the best
examples he gave us was a "television" made from a box with a roll of
paper inside and two sticks. It's basically a scroll inside the box
that a teacher can draw a story to explain a concept without
electricity. He told us a great story with it. He gave us a tour
around the room showing us a lot of the teaching materials. We got
some really great ideas to use in the classroom. The concepts are not
only resourceful for teachers in Africa, but teachers all around the
world can also use them!

Following his explanations and tour, we headed to town to get water
and exchange money. I feel like Zomba has become our home! We always
ask each other what we need to do in town, and we respond with "Oh, I
need to go to the tailor" or "I need to get some fruit from the
market." It's great. Charles waited for us, and then we headed back to

A lot of us ordered dinner right away because we were very hungry from
the day. If we order about an hour before we know we'll be starving,
it usually works out all right. Tonight, I had the Chambo Curry.
Chambo is a very popular fish in Malawi, and it's delicious. They
serve it with rice, greens and green beans. It might be my new favorite.

Lexi and I are in the room now catching up on our blogs and packing
for the safari in Liwonde tomorrow. It's supposed to be amazing there,
and we can't wait! There's an afternoon Jeep safari, an evening
safari, a night safari, and a sunrise safari. We'll be safari'ed out
before it's over, but it'll make for some great pictures!

I can't believe we'll be home in a week and a half! This trip has
really flown by, but it feels like we've been in Malawi for months.
Can't wait to share all my experiences when I get home…

Good night from Zomba…

Teddy's Village

July 3 (Thursday):

Lexi and I decided to focus on English/ language development today.
She brought in a poster of the alphabet and I brought a set of phonics
cards that help with vowel sounds and the acquisition of vocabulary
for students. They sang the ABC's (somewhat similar to ours- but part
of the tune was different), and Macdonald said they learn it in
Standard 1. He enjoyed our lesson and said it would be useful for the
students because they have access to similar materials in their lesson
book, but there is no explanation or reinforcement.

We started to teach them hangman before their "break", but they got so
into it, that they never took their break outside! They basically got
the concept, but they sometimes had issues with how to play the game
and fill in the letters. Some of their phrases included, " Krista and
Lexi are our new teachers" and "I love Lexi and Krista." If that
doesn't melt your heart, I'm not sure what will.

Lexi and I brought 4 disposable cameras to take pictures of the
children (remember when we bought those Dad?). There's a place in town
to take the cameras to have them developed. We decided we want to give
each child a picture of him or herself. Lexi took the children outside
group by group to take their picture. They love it! Most children have
never seen a picture of themselves, so it will be a nice surprise!
While she did this, I taught the rest of the class "Heads up, Seven
Up" from elementary school. They loved it! I would repeat to the
children "No peaking", and he would reiterate it or tell a child to
sit down if they "Sneak a peep." They got the hang of the game right
away, and I think it's something they'll continue to play in the future.

You know, even if some children don't learn a thing while we're here-
at least they have a wonderful time at school. They each have
differing home lives, but some are much harder than others. Despite it
all, I hope school remains a safe and happy place to come to escape
any hardships.

We gave our class a treat with a piece of candy (gum, lollipops,
jawbreakers, Sweetarts- all from home) before we left for the day.
Overall, it was very eventful, and we were exhausted by the time we

Today, the children brought us sugar cane and cassava (root of plant
with thick skin like a potato when boiled). We were so surprised! It
seems gift-giving for the guest teachers has become daily event.
Macdonald took out his 35mm camera to capture the moment. We were so
grateful to the children, especially when we know they could enjoy the
treats themselves.

We met for class for just a bit this afternoon. Teddy, Katie Brogan's
teacher from last year (Katie is a student from Virginia Tech who was
in my Human Development class and is a friend of Lexi's) met us at
MIE. He was about an hour early, arriving at 1, so we talked with him
for a bit. Lexi had to do most of the talking since Katie had given
him her information and he seemed most comfortable with her. After
about an hour, Charles picked us up to take us to Teddy's village.

Teddy's village was a few kilometers away. Charles drove us all the
way to the village, which included some narrow and rocky paths.
Somehow that bus can make it through just about anything- it's amazing.

Teddy showed us all around his village. We met some of his children,
saw his home, the village gardens, and met some people living there.
In total there are 70 homes in his village with families, and Teddy is
the only one who has an outside paying job. We had a quick tour, and
Teddy told us about the renovations for his new home. It was very
nice, but probably not much bigger than a standard living room size.
The walls are made of bricks and mud, and the roof had metal
shingling. It had a few windows. Chickens and goats surrounded the
area, and women were washing clothes and hanging them out to dry.

We got back on the bus, and Teddy took us to where his gardens are
located. They were just a couple minutes down the street, but they're
hidden from the road. Charles parked the bus on the side of the dirt
road, and Teddy showed us the way through the brush and dried plants.
It was a narrow path, and the dry plants make a lot of noise. If we
were going to see a snake on the trip, I swore it was going to be
then. I'm still dying to see a Black Mambo!

We finally came upon his gardens, and they were beautiful! He was
growing Mustard lettuce and tomatoes, and he was preparing another
small plot for other vegetables soon. He's done a fantastic job with
creating trenches surrounding the plots for irrigation. His gardens
were a village-style Freedom Gardens. He uses similar practices to
pump water from a nearby river to irrigate his sunken crops. We walked
done near the river, and he showed us the pump that he uses. It was
disassembled and hidden under some plants, so it took him a few
minutes to assemble. When it was finally assembled, he showed us how
it works and explained how often he uses it. The pump was positioned
like a bicycle, so Teddy has to stand up on it and pump for about 3
hours twice a week. It seems like a lot of work, but Teddy keeps it up
all year along with teaching.

Charles picked us up, and we headed back to town. We saw Teddy's wife
coming back from the market on our way out. He told Charles to stop
the bus so we could meet her. She came on and was very shy, but she
seemed happy to meet us. We thanked Teddy for inviting us to his
village, and then he discretely invited himself to the annual
teacher's party before we leave. Although he is not a teacher from our
current schools, he remembered from last year. Dr. Kelly said it was
fine, but it was funny how he was so bold.

We had to stop at Tasty Bites today! It's our favorite place to go in
town, and it's a nice break from Annie's Lodge food. We ordered 22
Samosas for 5 of us with spicy rice, Fanta and the amazing chocolate
cake. They brought the cake out first, and you better believe we ate
it first! It was delicious.

While we were talking, a woman a few years older than us from Canada
and her guy friend came in and asked us what to order. Of course we
said Samosas, but then we struck up a conversation. She's living in
Mzuzu, which is a couple hours north of Lilongwe. She said she had
hitchhiked all the way down and wasn't sure where she'd be going next.
We asked her why she was in Malawi, and she said she was doing
research on sustainable agriculture. The first words out of our mouths
were "Freedom Gardens!" We told her all about our experience there and
how she just HAD to go there. I gave her Mrs. Chinkhutha's card, so I
hope she makes it there!

We walked the mile back up to Annie's, and on the way, we stopped by
the tailor's house right next to Annie's to see if our dresses were
ready. We got to try them on and tell them if we needed alterations.
Some people had more issues than others, but overall they were great!
We really liked how they turned out. The tailor's house is so nice!
Especially for this area, it's surprising to see such a nice place. We
realized she must get a lot of business. We're not sure how much work
she actually does, but she has three men working for her. They make
everything so quickly, and I'm sure she makes a huge profit.

We're always exhausted by the end of the day, so we had dinner and
planned for Friday's class. Our whole week of classes is almost over!

I Survived the Safari!!!

Moni (Hello) Everyone...

It was AMAZZZZZZING!!!!!  I know I use that word a lot, but it was the coolest thing I've ever done. !

We drove about 2 hours and then 16 kilometers along this dirt road with lots of villages. We weren't sure what we would see at the end of the road, but when we got there, we were pleasantly surprised.  We had to take a boat over to Mvuu Camp where we were staying.  It goes out over the Shire (Sher-ah) River and it was so picturesque.  It reminded me of the Everglades in Florida.  The Palms were hugh and there were lots of grasses surrounding the water.  Apparently, it has about the most crocodiles in the world in this single river.  Scary, no?  The river spans the entire country and all the way through Lake Malawi.  

When we got to Mvuu Camp, which by the way was hardly a camp like I'm used to in my girl scouting days, it was like a resort.  They served us juice in the lobby immediately which overlooks the water.  I've never been to Animal Kingdom at Disney World, but someone said it was pretty similar, but this was the "real deal".  

We went on a river safari and saws tons (get it tons!) of elephants, crocodiles, and hippos!  It's so peaceful out there! I've never been that close in a zoo.  We took a jeep back and saw lots of warthogs, waterbuck, baboons, monkeys and so much more.  

We ate a nice buffet-style lunch with chicken, rice, and vegetables with scrumptious dessert!  We were in heaven!  We were assigned our chalets for the night, so we headed over to them - look on line to view them.  Lexi and I had two beds right overlooking the water.  This was high class camping!  We on an evening Safari and even saw Zebra!!!! It ended with probably the prettiest sunset I've ever seen over the waterhole. Then, we went on a night Safari.  We didn't see a lot of animals, but it was a neat experience to wrap up in blankets and view the clear pristine sky with stars.  Another unforgettable experience.  Our night ended with dinner - chambo, vegetables and more dessert! What a treat. Oh, have I mentioned we never have
 dessert in Zomba? 

We headed to our Chalet to relax and you could already hear the hippos on the shore!  It started to get chilly but we had warm blankets.  We each had a canopy bed with a mosquito net, and all night we heard hippos right outside!  They were no more than 30 feet from our chalet.  

We woke up at 5:30 a.m. for a morning walk.  We headed up to the lobby for tea/coffee and an elephant was walking around outside of the outdoor building.  It was phenomenal!  They ended up shooing it away for safety, but not before we got some good pictures.  It was cold for a while, but we enjoyed the brisk weather and walk.  Our guide, Danger, pointed out neat birds, trees and we got right up close to the Warthogs.  W had to take a guy with a rifle with us for protection.  Danger was very good at pointing out animal dung.  We used it to track what the animals were eating and where they were headed.  At first it was nasty, but piles of poop later, we thought it was such a cool learning experience.  

We came back for breakfast - omelet bar, o.j., ham and muffins!  We packed and were ready to leave.  I could have stayed for  week!  Brian said an elephant was literally a foot away from his screen window last night - there were no fences!!! The morning river Safari was a continuation of our breathtaking eventful journey.  It was so peaceful on the river and we got SO CLOSE to elephants.  We were about 15 feet away from them.  Little hippo heads pop up and out of the water - they were hard to catch!  Crocodiles were scary up close - as they almost don't look real!  So many great pictures and footage to share.

That was just a little summary of the Safari - so many details to add.  Overall, it was indescribable!!  Can't wait to share with you later.

On our way back to Liwonde, we stopped at a big craft market.  This was our biggest shopping stop for the trip.  We planed to spend 20 minutes shopping around, and we each bought a few things.  Then, we got back on the bus.  That's when the bargaining started!  Charles, our adorable bus driver, knows how to help our bargaining power - he would start the engine and slowly pull away, then the prices would really drop with Charles laughing the whole time, but it worked!!  I got so many bowls, figurines, spoon sets, a basket, candlesticks, and much more!  Hope it all fits on the way home.  I even traded a Yankees hat I brought from Wal Mart for a bracelet I loved.  I got a picture of the guy and he loved it too.  

It took about two hours to get home and we were exhausted!!  It was well worth the trip, and I'd definitely go again.  We all had to lug our souvenirs up the hill to our room, but I  always
love the view here.  Sarah, Lexi and I enjoyed the watermelon that our teacher Macdonald brought to us on Monday.  Another great treat!

Tomorrow we're going to the school where Radford College works tomorrow (Malemia) to help them run a feeding program.  We'll probably only be at our school for about 30 minutes.  In the afternoon, we won't be having class.  Part of our work in the schools is to also do a maintenance project.  We'll work filling in some of the blackboards, re-painting and sealing them. It will be a lot of work, but we adore these children so much and fortunate to have the opportunity to help improve their classroom.  

I'm now see how effective independent donors and projects can aid  a country like Malawi.  I wish more people had the opportunity to come over , do work or donate funds to the right people.  All too often, donations to NGO's and World Organizations never make it to the people who need it the most.  Here, we're living the effects of our work.  I wish I could do even more.

Thanks for reading!  Miss and love you all.  I'll be home before you know it on July 19 and I can't wait to see you all.

Good night from Zomba,