Tsiku pa ndinabadwa, is “the day I was born.”
March 30 was my 24th birthday and I celebrated it here in my village. I did go out with my friends in Lilongwe on Sunday night to celebrate while I was still in town. I first went to lunch and had a cheese burger and ice cream sundae, complete with sprinkles (yup!). Then that evening we went to a Jazz bar with a live band and hookah and enjoyed two bowls of hookah, rose and apple flavored and some beers, and of course live music. On the minibus to the bar, 6 of us were crammed in with about 10 other Malawians, practically sitting on top of each other and this was the venue everyone decided to sing “happy birthday” to me. It was comical to say the least. The Malawians were looking at us like we were all nuts and the entire bus was cracking up. After jazz and hookah we went to dinner for pizza and finished the night relaxing at the bar in our lodge having beers.
My birthday spent in the village was neither as exciting nor relaxing. It was mainly stressful because I thought it was going to be much more than it was. My birthday was the talk of the town, since I only told 2 people of course. There was talk of rice and goat meat, music and dancing and Dre (my site mate) was told to bring her guitar. I didn’t know what to expect. As far as I was concerned, Malawians don’t even really celebrate their birthday since most people aren’t even sure when it is. All I knew I wanted to do was have Dre come over, make no-bake oatmeal peanut butter cookies and relax.
What actually happened was this:
First, I was woken up at half six by a phone call from home, from Matt who was the first to wish me happy birthday. This was a wonderful way to start the day and it’s always great to hear his voice
The night before, my counterpart, Samuel, insisted I accompany him to his outreach clinic in a nearby village, to which I failed to say no to. After talking to Matt I started thinking, “the last thing I want to do today is sit in some strange village for hours doing nothing, being bored and stared at on my birthday.” So I dressed and went and told Samuel sorry, but I wasn’t going. He took it well and I retired to my home to do nothing. It was splendid.
I started my day by doing a small work out routine, eating morevit with fresh bananas and then vegging out watching movies I hadn’t seen yet, like cute rom-coms, The Accidental Husband.
which were amazing. Dre showed up around noon and we went next door for lunch. After lunch, Helen shows up at my house to inform me she’s coming over with nsima. I told her I just ate, but she said, “That’s ok, we’ll just have left overs!” Shortly there after she arrived back with 5 other ladies and a small child, bearing food, who all began to sing “happy birthday” to me (in English) and danced around my house. Sadly this event was not recorded since it surprised me.
The rest of the day passed with ease. Dre left around 4:30 and I went next door to eat dinner and watch a movie like usual. All in all it was a pretty good birthday to have been spent in the village.
Slowly but surely I will become an active Peace Corps volunteer!
Main things I’m working on now:
- Mosquito Net Monitoring Program – We’re going to go around to every house, starting in our village and moving out, and find out if they have nets, how many, how they’re being used, how many people live in the house, if there are any “at-risk” people (pregnant or under 5), and develop data of our area of who has nets and how they’re being used.
- Sister to Sister – a weekly girls youth group for young women in my area to meet with me and my site mate Dre and have a safe environment to talk, practice their English, learn about HIV/AIDS and other STDs, boy friends, family planning, their bodies, life, whatever!
This week Dre and I had our first Sister to Sister meeting and 20 girls showed up! It was awesome! I was only expecting 5 or 6 and I imagine even more will be there next week. I’m just excited that something I want to do and am passionate about is finally working out. I’ll keep you all posted on how it continues but I have high hopes for the group, even if all we do is sit around and talk about nonsense in English, at least it’s a safe place for the girls to be and actually talk aloud. Working with Dre on this is great too because she already knows the girls and has experience teaching Malawians. *happy dance!*
I still haven’t quite started the net monitoring program, mainly because my counterpart Samuel is turning out to be rather unreliable. *sigh* but I will do this one way or another and Helen has agreed to help if worse comes to worse.
Things are finally looking up and I am beginning to actually feel like a real PCV.
All-in-all, life is good.
Now I’m in Lilongwe, yet again, preparing to welcome the new trainees who will be living in the Central Region here in Lilongwe to give them a orientation of the city. I’m excited but it sucks being away so much, especially from Mr. Nzelu! He so rotten and I love him so so much!
That’s all for now folks! Till next time…