This is a lot at once so once again sorry
Anyway here goes nothing…
So not much really exciting happened in September I spent most of the month riding my bike around the nyungwe catchment area and getting to know the community. I also started helping in the maternity ward, since I am not really allowed or trained to actually deliver babies, but I get to clean off the babies and weigh them. The first birth I watched was a woman who was delivering her 4th child and she made it look really easy, very little noise or visible pain for shooting a watermelon out of her, but the next one I watched was a first time mother who was tiny and her baby was huge and she was pushing for 45 minutes and wow that looked terrifying, to say the least. I also got to name a few children so there is a leah and susan running around Malawi, you’re welcome mom and leah.
I have made it my mission to teach the kids in nyungwe that my name is Alexandra and not to call me azungu, which means foreigner or white person, which takes a lot of effort and patience. September is when it starts to get really hot in Malawi especially in the lake shore regions and the far south and I am lucky enough to be a part of those regions.
The end of October marked out 3 months at site and when we had our three month reconnect training. It is really interesting to see how much I have adapted to life in the village because when I first traveled through Lilongwe I thought this is a city? No way it is too small and there is not enough here no way could this be considered a city or a capital, now however I am totally overwhelmed by Lilongwe and the cars and how many people are moving around.
We all made it back to Lilongwe, 4 in our group decided to go back to America between swearing in and reconnect, so our group seemed much smaller at 17. We spent 2 weeks in Dedza where we initially had our training. The training was really great because it was all things that were applicable to our work at site, where as in pre service training we had no clue what we would need to know. We got to visit our home stay families, which was so much fun because even in the 3 months since we’d been gone the kids had grown so much. They were a little hesitant when I first arrived but by the time I left it was like old times and I brought them markers and pads of paper which they loved. During the second week of training our counterparts from site came and joined us and it was really helpful to have someone at site come and really understand what peace corps is and what was are expected to do, most people thought I was a nurse coming to help at the health center when in reality I am just loosely connected with the health center.
So I got back to site just in time for the heat to start and let me tell you it was unbelievable, I felt like I was living on the face of the sun. My house, brick with a tin roof, acts like an oven so while it would cool off a little at night my house would still be around 105°F. One afternoon when it was particularly hot I took a little travel clock and put it in the shade outside and it read 112°F then I tried putting it in the sun just for fun and it got up to 125°F before it broke. The only good thing about Nyungwe is that there is a breeze off the lake and it helps with the heat a little and it is a dry heat, but I have never sweat so much in my life!
I headed back down to Lilongwe for thanksgiving because the American ambassador hosts thanksgiving at his house for just Peace Corps volunteers. It is sort of a pot luck and the volunteers bring dishes, and while there is no turkey the ambassador roasted a pig. We all ate like we’d never seen food before. After a little digestion time we played a football game North vs. South and of course the north won.
After thanksgiving Sabrina and I were lucky enough to be bridesmaids in a Malawian wedding, WHAT AN EXPERIENCE. So the bride was sabrina’s neighbor in Chitimba and she had never met me when she decided I would be a bridesmaid. Sabrina was the “best girl” I was just a bridesmaid. Anyway so we were supposed to show up in the rumphi boma a week before the wedding for rehearsals because here in Malawi they don’t walk down the aisle they dance. Because we were delayed in Lilongwe after thanksgiving we didn’t make it to rumphi until Wednesday and the wedding was Saturday, the bride was a little stressed. We had to learn 2 dances one for the church and one for the reception. The church one was very simple – tap you right foot 3 times tap the left 3 times kick the right foot out then switch and start with your left. Anyway we managed to pick that one up pretty quick. The church ceremony is really not all that different from an American wedding, but the reception is very different the main goal is to raise as much money as possible so it is like an auction/sporting event. So we had to dance our way down an aisle in the reception hall to a stage, the dance was a lot like the electric slide. Now the electric slide is not a dance you would do to get anywhere quickly so we had to electric slide for about 20 minutes – I am now damn good at the electric slide! Our dresses were not too bad, I was expecting much worse, they were baby blue with a sequent band going diagonal across the chest and white shoes. The major challenge came with what to do with out hair, the bride wanted to “freeze” it which Malawians do where they put so much product in their hair that if a hurricane came through their hair would not move then they attach fake hair to the top of their head – think a fake bun or tons of curls. They decided on a high ponytail with a chunk of hair left down, which was not so bad, but then they brought out the afro-gel and covered out heads with it, basically making it look like we had not washed our hair in weeks. So survived our first Malawian wedding and now everyone says I have to marry a Malawian man since I’ve been in a Malawian wedding, yeah we’ll see about that.
So I finally made it back to site after being gone for 2 weeks and the rains have begun a little – prior to December it rained once in the 4 months I’d been at site. The big rains have not started yet but we did have one big shower and WOW it is loud on that tin roof.
I’ve started HIV/AIDS education sessions with the youth group that works with the health center and the first one went well and hopefully I’ll be able to work with other groups starting soon. I am also looking to teach starting in January at a secondary school near me so we’ll see how that goes.
I’ll be spending Christmas with Sabrina in chitimba then we will head to Mzuzu where our group will meet for a belated Christmas celebration, then to the lake shore for a new years celebration.
Happy holidays and I miss you all
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