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Re: [ujeni] going to malawi

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  • Mark Holland
    Whew, Paul! What s up with that? Everything you said is true and good advice, but couldn t you mix in just an ounce of good with the bad? I arrived in Malawi
    Message 1 of 6 , Jan 11, 2001
      Whew, Paul! What's up with that? Everything you said is true and good advice,
      but couldn't you mix in just an ounce of good with the bad?

      I arrived in Malawi in '95, and had a rough adjustment but settled in. After
      reaching the point where I accepted the lifestyle changes that were forced upon
      me, I loved it. I had to leave for a bit in '96, but couldn't wait to get
      back. I finished my service in late '97 and then stayed 2 extra years working
      as a consultant just because I was having fun and learning a lot. Every day
      I would be frustrated, but every day I'd have some wonderful epiphany, some new
      realization about how the world really is would dawn on me. I remember a
      campfire on the Nyika-Livingstonia trail, talking with the scout and having him
      all of the sudden drop his reserve and talk to me openly, since I spoke a few
      words of Chichewa. People I knew passed away while I was there, and it forced
      me to grow up, gave me a new understanding of myself and my inadequate level of
      engagement with the world. I helped my night guard with a few kwacha to take
      driving lessons, and then watched as he worked his way up the ladder. When
      I left he was a mid-level salesperson at at Xerographics and a leader in his
      community. Sometimes when I was angry or frustrated or burned out, I'd go out
      to his place and we'd sit on the stoop of the local bottlestore and get a
      little plastered together. Although I never convinced him to stop calling me
      "sir", we did reach the point where he'd rib me for drinking Brown instead of
      Green. I remember Mr. Phiri, my 2nd homestay father, an absolutely amazing
      individual who nearly single-handedly ran a water project in Chipasula, getting
      the money from MASAF and riding herd on the community until the project was
      done. I saw the kiosks myself before I left, and the pregnant women who no
      longer had to walk a mile to the nearest working borehole. I ran a
      borehole-repair training workshop, and watched as the instructor taught the
      mechanics catechism to group of illiterate women ("Ichi ndi chiyani?", "what's
      this?" he'd say roughly, and they would look at the ground for a bit, then one
      would look up with a huge smile and shout "Spanner!" or "Lock-Bolt!").
      I visited nearly every country in SE Africa. I learned to scuba dive. Twice
      I saw a leopard make a kill. John Dummer and I breathed the breath of a hippo
      at S. Luangwa. The instant I got back to the states, I had a dozen
      as-yet-unmet friends waiting for me in the local RPCV group.

      So, don't let it get to you, and have an excellent two years!

      Mark Holland

      Paul DEVER wrote:

      > In all truthfulness:
      >
      > I was the Admin Officer thre so my perspective is a bit different thatn most
      > members of this mailgroup.
      >
    • David Burrows
      Elizabeth, I have been perusing these messages regarding advice for you and I must say all of it is good stuff. I agree with whoever said to take a nice sharp
      Message 2 of 6 , Jan 12, 2001
        Elizabeth,

        I have been perusing these messages regarding advice for you and I must say
        all of it is good stuff. I agree with whoever said to take a nice sharp
        knife. Tomatoes are easier to work with when they are not turned into a
        pool of mush by a dull knife. Keeping an open mind, not stressing about the
        little things...all that stuff is good. But I have found one piece of info
        lacking from all these messages. And I feel it is my duty to warn you about
        chitedze. Actually chitedze could mean two things. It is the location of
        an Agricultural Research station 20 minutes west of Lilongwe (the preservice
        training site when I left a year ago) but it is also a name of a bean.

        The chitedze bean is the most evil, wretched, and horrible plant on the face
        of the earth. I am sure the devil doesn't even know it is his most devious
        creation. Well, that is an overstatement but it is not pleasant. Here is
        why. All during the rainy season this plant grows incredibly fast. Being a
        vine, it snakes up trees, entangles itself in the mahedge surrounding your
        house, and generally expands exponentially. Or at least it seems. Malawian
        friends might tell you to get rid of it, but not knowing any better you say,
        "nah, why cut it down? Its not doing any harm." Its actually kinda cool.
        The pods are fuzzy and a little bit like velvet. These friends will shake
        their heads and laugh and just chalk it up to another crazy azungu thing.
        But then half way through the cold season as things start to dry, the vines
        die. The pods are all a nasty brown and the fuzz just blows off with the
        wind. The mahedge looks kinda ugly and maybe you think it is time to get
        the dead stuff off of there. Put it in a compost pile or something. So you
        walk up to particularly dense section on the mahedge and give it a good
        yank. Of course you kick up a good cloud of dust that kinda envelopes you.
        So you step back but it is too late!! The chitedze's got you. Suddenly you
        are itching SOOOOOOOO BAD you can't stand it. You can't scratch anywhere
        because every where itches. As quick as you can, you run inside, get a big
        bucket of water (which thankfully is full because you made a trip to the
        bore hole that day), run to the bath house and poor it all over you. BUT IT
        DOES NO GOOD!! I cannot overstate how uncomfortable you are right now.
        Next thing you know you're naked, dripping wet, and running around in your
        house wondering how much longer this incredibly horrible sensation will
        last. Thankfully it goes away anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour depending
        on how much of the fuzz got on you. (Of course this story is purely
        fictional. I don't know if this exact scenerio ever happened to anyone.)
        My advice is to learn to identify the chitedze bean. (If you are leaving
        just soon it will be around and your host family can surely point it out to
        you.) If it grows around your house, let it go for a while. But once the
        rains stop, rip every last one of the dang plants out and toss them in a
        compost pile. Under no circumstances should you let the things dry out.

        When you get to Malawi, you might meet a married couple who have been
        Volunteers there since the dawn of time (actually 1997) and if chitedze
        beans get mentioned in the course of any conversation they might try to
        defend it. Big ideas about how there really are no evil plants. If they
        try brainwashing you at all just tell them "Hey there is no argument here!"
        Use those exact words. They'll shut right up.

        Well, I think that's enough ranting. Malawi is a great country with great
        people. You will have a great experience and I am a bit envious of you at
        the moment.

        Yendani bwino (travel well)
        Dave

        >From: "Foy, Elizabeth" <elizabeth.foy@...>
        >Reply-To: ujeni@egroups.com
        >To: "'ujeni@egroups.com'" <ujeni@egroups.com>
        >Subject: RE: [ujeni] news
        >Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2001 15:22:12 -0600
        >
        >Well John, it may be hard to believe, but two years of abstaining is
        >nothing
        >new for me. So, I'm sure I can avoid the massive temptations of being in a
        >foreign land, with all those eligible men. Really, it isn't an issue for
        >me
        >:)
        >
        >As far as swimming in the lake, how do you know where people do and don't
        >pee? And, where can you pee? Are there pit latrines? I was told to avoid
        >them during rainy season. That sure will be a long season!!!
        >
        >-----Original Message-----
        >From: John Patten [mailto:jppatten98@...]
        >Sent: Thursday, January 11, 2001 2:55 PM
        >To: ujeni@egroups.com
        >Subject: RE: [ujeni] news
        >
        >
        >Hey Paul, as former admin guy, do you want to field
        >the question of two years of abstinence? I think many
        >gave it the ol college try, but what was the peace
        >corp stat, maybe 10% lasted? some not even before the
        >plane landed.
        >Also Elizabeth, I was in the lake twice a day and am
        >in my fifth year parasite free! But his point on that
        >was well taken.
        >
        >
        >--- "Foy, Elizabeth" <elizabeth.foy@...> wrote:
        > > Elizabeth here again. . .
        > >
        > > I hope I'm not getting too much info before
        > > experiencing Malawi with fresh
        > > eyes, so please humor me as I'm a curious cat:
        > >
        > > --are there many safety issues for women (please
        > > disregard sex, as I plan on
        > > abstaining.)
        > > --any threat of aligators, tigers, etc. (wild animal
        > > fears)
        > > --can I really swim in Lake Milawi? I've heard the
        > > stories of the
        > > para-sites. . .
        > > now I'm para-noid
        > > --you guys all seem pretty cool and tight. did you
        > > attend the PC together?
        > > I see different dates on your services, so I
        > > know not all of you
        > > went together, but with the RPCV groups, have you
        > > all met, do you
        > > keep in touch with PCV?
        > >
        >
        >
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      • Foy, Elizabeth
        David, you are by far the most descriptive! I ve greatly enjoyed getting everyone s emails each morning at my job, esp. since I know that I m leaving here in
        Message 3 of 6 , Jan 12, 2001
          RE: [ujeni] going to malawi

          David, you are by far the most descriptive!  I've greatly enjoyed getting everyone's emails each morning at my job, esp. since I know that I'm leaving here in a couple of months :)  I will heed you advice and cut that sucker down before it dries.  Thanks for the warning.  Elizabeth

          -----Original Message-----
          From: David Burrows [mailto:supedaveburrows@...]
          Sent: Friday, January 12, 2001 2:52 AM
          To: ujeni@egroups.com
          Subject: RE: [ujeni] going to malawi




          Elizabeth,

          I have been perusing these messages regarding advice for you and I must say
          all of it is good stuff.  I agree with whoever said to take a nice sharp
          knife.  Tomatoes are easier to work with when they are not turned into a
          pool of mush by a dull knife.  Keeping an open mind, not stressing about the
          little things...all that stuff is good.  But I have found one piece of info
          lacking from all these messages.  And I feel it is my duty to warn you about
          chitedze.  Actually chitedze could mean two things.  It is the location of
          an Agricultural Research station 20 minutes west of Lilongwe (the preservice
          training site when I left a year ago) but it is also a name of a bean.

          The chitedze bean is the most evil, wretched, and horrible plant on the face
          of the earth.  I am sure the devil doesn't even know it is his most devious
          creation.  Well, that is an overstatement but it is not pleasant.  Here is
          why.  All during the rainy season this plant grows incredibly fast.  Being a
          vine, it snakes up trees, entangles itself in the mahedge surrounding your
          house, and generally expands exponentially.  Or at least it seems.  Malawian
          friends might tell you to get rid of it, but not knowing any better you say,
          "nah, why cut it down?  Its not doing any harm."  Its actually kinda cool. 
          The pods are fuzzy and a little bit like velvet.  These friends will shake
          their heads and laugh and just chalk it up to another crazy azungu thing.
          But then half way through the cold season as things start to dry, the vines
          die.  The pods are all a nasty brown and the fuzz just blows off with the
          wind.  The mahedge looks kinda ugly and maybe you think it is time to get
          the dead stuff off of there.  Put it in a compost pile or something.  So you
          walk up to particularly dense section on the mahedge and give it a good
          yank.  Of course you kick up a good cloud of dust that kinda envelopes you. 
          So you step back but it is too late!!  The chitedze's got you.  Suddenly you
          are itching SOOOOOOOO BAD you can't stand it.  You can't scratch anywhere
          because every where itches.  As quick as you can, you run inside, get a big
          bucket of water (which thankfully is full because you made a trip to the
          bore hole that day), run to the bath house and poor it all over you.  BUT IT
          DOES NO GOOD!!  I cannot overstate how uncomfortable you are right now. 
          Next thing you know you're naked, dripping wet, and running around in your
          house wondering how much longer this incredibly horrible sensation will
          last.  Thankfully it goes away anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour depending
          on how much of the fuzz got on you.  (Of course this story is purely
          fictional.  I don't know if this exact scenerio ever happened to anyone.) 
          My advice is to learn to identify the chitedze bean.  (If you are leaving
          just soon it will be around and your host family can surely point it out to
          you.)  If it grows around your house, let it go for a while.  But once the
          rains stop, rip every last one of the dang plants out and toss them in a
          compost pile.  Under no circumstances should you let the things dry out.

          When you get to Malawi, you might meet a married couple who have been
          Volunteers there since the dawn of time (actually 1997) and if chitedze
          beans get mentioned in the course of any conversation they might try to
          defend it.  Big ideas about how there really are no evil plants.  If they
          try brainwashing you at all just tell them "Hey there is no argument here!" 
          Use those exact words.  They'll shut right up.

          Well, I think that's enough ranting.  Malawi is a great country with great
          people.  You will have a great experience and I am a bit envious of you at
          the moment.

          Yendani bwino (travel well)
          Dave

          >From: "Foy, Elizabeth" <elizabeth.foy@...>
          >Reply-To: ujeni@egroups.com
          >To: "'ujeni@egroups.com'" <ujeni@egroups.com>
          >Subject: RE: [ujeni] news
          >Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2001 15:22:12 -0600
          >
          >Well John, it may be hard to believe, but two years of abstaining is
          >nothing
          >new for me.  So, I'm sure I can avoid the massive temptations of being in a
          >foreign land, with all those eligible men.  Really, it isn't an issue for
          >me
          >:)
          >
          >As far as swimming in the lake, how do you know where people do and don't
          >pee?  And, where can you pee?  Are there pit latrines?  I was told to avoid
          >them during rainy season.  That sure will be a long season!!!
          >
          >-----Original Message-----
          >From: John Patten [mailto:jppatten98@...]
          >Sent: Thursday, January 11, 2001 2:55 PM
          >To: ujeni@egroups.com
          >Subject: RE: [ujeni] news
          >
          >
          >Hey Paul, as former admin guy, do you want to field
          >the question of two years of abstinence? I think many
          >gave it the ol college try, but what was the peace
          >corp stat, maybe 10% lasted? some not even before the
          >plane landed.
          >Also Elizabeth, I was in the lake twice a day and am
          >in my fifth year parasite free! But his point on that
          >was well taken.
          >
          >
          >--- "Foy, Elizabeth" <elizabeth.foy@...> wrote:
          > > Elizabeth here again. . .
          > >
          > > I hope I'm not getting too much info before
          > > experiencing Malawi with fresh
          > > eyes, so please humor me as I'm a curious cat:
          > >
          > > --are there many safety issues for women (please
          > > disregard sex, as I plan on
          > > abstaining.)
          > > --any threat of aligators, tigers, etc. (wild animal
          > > fears)
          > > --can I really swim in Lake Milawi?  I've heard the
          > > stories of the
          > > para-sites. . .
          > >     now I'm para-noid
          > > --you guys all seem pretty cool and tight.  did you
          > > attend the PC together?
          > > I see different             dates on your services, so I
          > > know not all of you
          > > went together, but with the RPCV groups,    have you
          > > all met, do you
          > > keep in touch with PCV?
          > >
          >
          >
          >__________________________________________________
          >Do You Yahoo!?
          >Yahoo! Photos - Share your holiday photos online!
          >http://photos.yahoo.com/
          >
          >
          >

          _________________________________________________________________
          Get your FREE download of MSN Explorer at http://explorer.msn.com




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