Whew, it’s been busy lately! The end of the school year and preparations for moving were interrupted by helping to train the new group of education volunteers. I helped plan the training, hosted 3 English teachers at my site, then spent a week with them in Dedza. In fact, I got stuck in Dedza because that was the week of the protests and I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere for several days. Don’t worry, everything was fine and rather boring where I was. The safest place to be when there’s crazy stuff going on in town is in a village.
On the 11th of July my school hosted 15 American students and 7 chaperones from Passport Camps, a sister organization of Watering Malawi, the NGO that funded our toilet construction last year. It was a fantastic day. After some opening games and speeches, our students took the visitors on a tour of the village and worked side by side with them to mold bricks that will hopefully be used to build either a hostel for our students or a teacher’s house. After a cross-cultural lunch (nsima, cabbage and goat from Malawi and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from America) the students and community members shared songs, speeches, skits and dances (including Gule Wamkulu!). It was an exhausting but absolutely great day.
Leaving my old site and moving to my new one wasn’t as hard as I had expected. One of my students dragged me all over the place, including villages I’d never visited before, saying goodbye to people. When moving day finally came, my moving crew included two students, the head teacher and my neighbors, Beatrice and Jacob. They cleared out my old house, loaded up a truck and the head teacher’s car and unloaded everything at my new place. Beatrice and Jacob stayed with me the first night to help me settle in. I was so incredibly grateful for all their help (mostly Beatrice…two-year-olds aren’t terribly helpful). I was also glad to see 4 familiar faces within my first 24 hours at my new site–a former neighbor and 3 students live nearby.
My new house is absolutely lovely, except for the smell. The last residents were birds, and their scent still lingers. But pang’ono pang’ono (little by little) things are getting better. A group of teachers’ wives came over to welcome me and then proceeded to clear out a storage room, which contained a whole lot of pipes and a mummified bat. Definitely less creepy than a severed owl head. Filing cabinets got moved over to the staff room at school. And some poor guy got paid to crawl up into the ceiling, sweep out 300 pounds of bird poop/dirt/bugs (seriously, I’m not exaggerating) and spray some kind of chemical up there. I’m having a fence built to keep the chickens, goats, dogs, cows and donkeys from pooping all over my yard. Overall, I like the community, the living situation will be fine (despite the lack of electricity, distant borehole and lingering bird smell), and I’m excited about my new job. Also excited to go home for a visit at Christmas!