Good day mates!
Long time no see! Sorry it’s been a while since my last post but things have been a little crazy and I just haven’t had the time. But now I do! So here’s what’s been going on in the crazy African life of Ashleigh…
I’m now 100% puppy free! Sadly one died while I was away, but the other 2 I ended up giving to two of the new PCVs who just swore in. The remaining two lived at my house for about a week and a half before I took them to their new mommas, so that was kind of crazy, but 2 is much easier to handle than 5! Plus I think Nzelu really liked having playmates for a while. He actually hung around the house ALL day and would play with them. I was a little sad for him when he was back to being all alone, but no way do I want another puppy and having those puppies for just a short time reinforced that!
When I traveled with them one got car sick and puked all over me in the back of a truck, lol. I knew dogs could get car sick but for it to actually happen was pretty crazy. I also toted them around town strapped to me with a chitenje, which got lots of laughter, funny looks, pointing and “ah-ah!”s. I met one volunteer here in Lilongwe and then with one puppy continued on to Salima. I got a ride with a really nice Malawian who didn’t care that I had a puppy which was nice.
In Salima, after delivering the puppy, stayed the night with my friend Annette and her, another PCV and I made burritos! Using Velveeta we made queso with tomatoes and onions. We made rice and wheat tortillas. Then I diced up soya pieces and we cooked them in a taco sauce. We piled our ingredients in the tortillas and lost ourselves in delicious bliss! Annette’s guard even ate with us and had 4! It was a fun time and the next day I made my way back to Lilongwe.
New Baby in da Hood
In my last entry I mentioned that Gladys had her baby while I was gone the last time around so when I returned home I got to meet the newest member of the Mwamvani family, baby Yankho! Yankho means “Answer” and it’s just pronounced “yawn-ko”. She is so dang cute! She’s now about 5 weeks old and 12 lbs, chubby and adorable!
It’s really cute to see George with her, he always called her “Mamma!” or “My girl” and he kisses on her face and sings to her. She’s added a whole new dynamic to the house but it’s a lot of fun and I’m happy she’s finally here! She’s a fairly mild mannered baby, although George claims she’s her fussiest during the night so obviously I can’t attest to that but she seems like a pretty chill baby to me!
I have also had the esteemed privilege of being peed on by her twice now! lol Normally they’re pretty good about keeping “nappy”s on her (cloth diapers) but one day she was lying on the couch and started crying and George had left to the hospital and Gladys was busy outside so I picked her up and to try and soothe her and she was not wearing a nappy. And sure enough after about 5 minutes of being calmed by me she let loose the great Hoover dam of pee on me! It was an outrageous amount of pee too! I was sitting so it soaked all the way through my skirt, my leggings and even my underwear! Yeah. Gross. I also stood up quickly and a good amount ran down my leg. For a moment I was confused on who exactly wet themselves! hahaha
The other day I accompanied Gladys and George’s sister, Liness, to their groundnut garden. There were already a few ladies there working on harvesting the groundnuts and Gladys started helping too. I of course, helped a little, but I’m not a huge fan of getting that dirty when I’m in the middle of nowhere, Africa. So I just kind of hung out with the ladies for a bit. Nzelu had followed us too so I played around with him and fed him groundnuts since they’re his favorite snack.
I also got to carry Yankho around on my back in the traditional way women carry babies here. It was a lot of fun but she’s insanely tiny and for the first 15 minutes I had her on me I was staying really still and kept checking to make sure her little bottom was still snug in the sling, paranoid the whole time she was going to slip out. The ladies all thought I was looking pretty fly with Yankho on my back, and I told them that was how I planned to carry my own babies in the states, to which I received an earsplitting collective amayi laugh to. And by that I mean the way women laugh all together and do this odd little thing where they go “hahahahaha, eeeeeeeee!” I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before but it’s hysterical, and they do it all together right on queue!
More Drama from da Hood and My Upcoming Move
Some of you know about this already but a few things have been going on at my site which have accumulated to provide reason enough for me to have a site change.
For starters, as I’ve mentioned/complained about before, my relationship with my counterpart isn’t so great and our productiveness is less that satisfactory. All I have to show for 9 months at site is a girls group that –I- started and ONE day going out to do net monitoring because Samuel always bails on me. And the girls group he’s mad at me for and tells me to stop because he thinks I’m neglecting the boys. *sigh* So I’ve been struggling a lot with not feeling productive and useful in my community. Not to mention two project ideas I’ve had are now being under taken by NGOs (borehole drilling and ARVs at the clinic). Plus sometimes I don’t really feel that supported by the rest of the health staff or even the community. I mean I think everyone likes that I’m there, but I don’t think the health staff take me seriously.
On top of all that, recently a “bar” opened by my house. And by “bar” I mean a persons house where they sell homemade wine and alcohol called Kichasu and play loud, terrible music all night. Drunk people wander around my house at night yelling drunken nonsense and make a lot of noise and the whole thing just has made me really uncomfortable. The PC security director came out to check things out and didn’t think it was THAT close to pose any serious security threat; however, he agreed if I don’t feel safe, that’s a problem.
Now the biggest whammy of them all… George and Gladys have moved away! George got a transfer to move to Mitundu and work at the hospital, which will be great for them, he’ll get paid more and they’ll have a much nicer house and be closer to Lilongwe, but what about me?! As much craziness that goes on over there, the truth is they’re my best friends here and my family. I eat 2 meals a day with them and we watch movies everyday on my little laptop.
All of this is why I am in town now. I needed to just get away for a bit, especially since my neighbors are gone, I’m feeling down… But after all this, I’ve spoken with the security director and my supervisor and they both agreed that a site change would be the best thing for me.
I’ve been talking with Cornelius (my supervisor) Wednesday and yesterday and it looks like I’ll be taking a job with this organization Catholic Relief Services (CRS) which is religiously affiliated but it’s funded by USAID and I’ll be doing HIV/AIDS outreach and prevention work with orphans and young children. It’s located in Ntechu (Yellow area, #7), which is a small district right below Dedza. I’ll also be working in the BOMA (the main township) which means I’ll have a pretty nice house with electricity AND running water. I’ll also be right on the main M1 road that runs up to Lilongwe or down to Blantyre about half way to either one. I’m getting really excited about this opportunity! It’ll be a nice change of pace and a lot more structured and focus on what I’d like to be doing, not to mention the sweet house.
We still have to work out the details of whether or not its 100% but the house is ready and the organization really wants a volunteer so I should be good to go soon and hopefully I can move asap! I’ll keep you all update on what’s going on as soon as I know more ok?
And in Other News…
I’m coming home!!!! July 4-27th I’m hitting t-town for a 3 week vacation in beautiful amazing America! I’m so excited! We already have my plane ticket and everything! I can’t wait *happy dance* I can’t wait to see my family and all my friends, eat lots of delicious food and get new clothes! It’s gonna be good.
Well, I think that’s it for my update now. Hope you all are doing well and until next time…