Monthly Archives: June 2013

My Own Adventure

By Louisa Niedermann

Heading to Chilanga elementary to play soccer

Heading to Chilanga elementary to play soccer

Day 16:

The days are getting colder and colder, however I never thought that I would be cold in Africa. Normally the sun is shinning but today there were clouds in the sky.

With each day I am learning so many new ideas. I feel like the timing of this experience is really beneficial to me because I am entering my third field experience in the fall. I am learning how to put all these theories into practice which will help me be prepared for my upcoming stage in the fall.

I am taking in all the ideas everyone is coming up with and all the units we have created; however another one of my interests is sports and after school sports. I want to explore the ways in which the after school sports run here in Malawi.  In order for me to do so I have to push myself and be willing to explore on my own.

I asked Francis if I could go see the after school sports at Chilanga elementary. After talking to the head master he said that the school had no balls to play with so they could not have after school sports. With excitement I screamed, “ I have some soccer balls!” Francis ran back to tell the headmaster.  Tomorrow I will have my first experience with an after school sports program at Chilanga elementary.

Day 17: After school sports at Chilanga

As it got closer to the time I was going to leave to go for the after school program, I got really nervous.  I did not know what to expect as I wasn’t sure how involved they wanted me to be.  I collected 10 soccer balls in a bag and walked over to the school, just Francis and I.

The headmaster was so appreciative of what I was doing and how involved in his school I was getting.  He explained that the school did not have a lot of resources for their after school sports program. As I talked with the principal, I saw a group of kids crowding outside of his office.  I thought that those must be the students staying for the sports program.  I got introduced to the lady who was going to help me lead the after school sports.  As we walked towards the field the lady asked me “What kind of games are you going to play?” I had all sorts of activities and drills in my head for potential activities I could do with the students. As we tuned the corner I saw tons and tons of students outside. I thought maybe they were outside before going home. I thought wrong.  All of the students were here for the after school program. I got all nervous and over whelmed. All the activities I had planned went right down the drain. I didn’t even know if I could play soccer with this many children.  At one point the teacher even said to me “So what are you going to do?” I started to freak out. I said put the students in groups. It took a while to get the students organized and to finally start the games of soccer and one game of netball. Even though there were still too many students playing soccer, the game got under way and was somewhat organized. The teacher told me to blow the whistle as I had to get the students attention if the ball went out. I had brought my whistle not expecting to use it. I am guessing my role was the referee. Every time I blew the whistle I kind of laughed to myself as I had never used a whistle before to be in charge of this many students.

I talked to the teacher a bit, trying to get a sense of the program. I have come to realize that they didn’t really have a sports program implemented which could be because of the lack of resources. The teacher also explained that the students are hungry after school because they have not eaten lunch yet. After explaining this the teacher asked me “How long does this activity go for?” I realized that this activities was in my control and I got to choose what game to play and how long it lasted. I wanted the children to go home and eat their lunch so I ended the activity not long after. I think that overall the games of soccer went well even if they were a bit disorganized in the beginning.

This was an eye opening experience for me. I was not prepared for all of those students. It was amazing to see how into the games the students were and how they did not hold back even though they were not even wearing shoes. As I walked back exhausted from this experience, I asked Francis how many students he thought were at the activity and he said around 250-300 students. I am proud of myself for trying and for the activity having gone so well.

June 15th – Hey, Let’s Build a Town on Top of a Mountain!

By Naomi Crisp

Dance it out

Dance it out

I woke up with the rooster again today (I’m beginning to think he’s is following). I tried to sleep in but it only lasted 15 minutes, but I am glad I didn’t as I got to see the sunrise. The orange sky turned into pale pink and then seemingly out of nowhere the red fireball itself made an appearance once again. The view is so gorgeous I just can’t seem to fathom it all. When everyone else had woken up we had fried egg (another new meal) as well as bananas and peanut butter. Corinne then taught me how to play Bowa (a Malawian game) and I loved it! At 10:30 am we set off on our walk for the day. We went through Ukwe’s garden and saw how he sustains his site; he does an amazing job! Along our walk we first went to Manchewe falls which looks over the valleys like you ruled over them in a Lord of the Rings kind of style.  The drop off was quite scary yet entrancing. We didn’t stay long otherwise Dr. Stonebanks would have had a heart attack, so we were off again. A bit further along we came to Kazichi falls where we sat under the shelter of a cave for a while watching the water pour down.

After a walk back up the cliff side we were back on the steady road up to Livingstonia. It wasn’t a particularly long walk but when we approached the base of the town it was a pretty steep climb up. It is crazy to think that they built a town at the top of a mountain. As a reward for reaching the top we ate our delicious homemade sandwiches from the lodge. We then walked through the town where there were events going on at the schools with people cheering. We had a drink and then decided to head back. The walk back was really quick and we realized the others were nowhere to be seen. We stopped at the side of the road for a while and some kids came over to play. As soon as I could see the others in the distance I started teaching the kids ridiculous celebration dances; it was great fun. It turned out that they had decided to stop at a hut that claimed to be a restaurant for a coffee, and they wondered why they were feeling sick after. Luckily we weren’t too far from the lodge and we could all shower and relax for the evening. A wonderful day yet again!

Just Another Perfect Day

By Jae Oh

Making breakfast mandazi

Making breakfast mandazi

I open my eyes with the sounds of roosters and distant church bells letting me know it is 6 am. I stretch a little inside the warmth of my sleeping bag and take a peek at the daylight coming through a window. ‘Another exciting day is about to start!’ I struggle with the bug net as I get down from my bed and step out though a creaking door. Only some dim sunlight fills in the hostel but that is enough for me to start reminiscing about yesterday in my journal. One of the kitchen ladies brings in hot water bottles for tea or coffee, fresh fruit which are mostly bananas, and hot steaming mandazi, local donuts, for breakfast. The smell of fresh brewed tea and sweet bread wakes people up one by one and soon the breakfast table is bursting with conversations about last night’s dreams or plans for the days to come. A typical morning in Makupo Village begins.

Hard at work

Hard at work

The curriculum development crew, eight passionate Canadian university students with Francis, Thomas, the new teacher at the new school, and a prospective high school teacher, Cynthia, get together from 9 to 4 at our working room in Chilanga High School. There, we gather our brains to build unit plans for a grade one curriculum merging with the Quebec Education Program to suit the culture and needs of the local people. The new school site has been decided and foundations are already set in place encouraging us to catch up. At first, the task in front of us seemed so big and impossible to finish in time; however, once the crew got into the rhythm, the momentum started to build. Two weeks went by like a flash and we are already looking into editing and finalizing what we have accomplished. We separate into smaller groups and work on several units at a time and share ideas and suggestions when problems arise as a big crew. Any ideas and parts I overlook, others will lend helping hands and vice versa; we became the real example of entrepreneurship, creativity, and critical thinking that we aim to portray through the new curriculum.

Mouthwatering nsima and sides dishes

Mouthwatering nsima and sides dishes

After a hard day’s work comes a delicious meal. For lunch or dinner, either rice or nsima is served with various side dishes, such as beans, green mustard leaves, peas, cabbages, eggs, goat or beef meat, and the new addition, soya pieces fried in tomato, onion, and curry base. Some are similar to Korean cuisine, but much greasier, which is understandable considering meat is not a part of the daily food for many locals and they need an alternative source of fat. I helped out in the kitchen a few times, making mandazi or cutting vegetables and the ladies are always glad to have extra hands and stories to share. The only rule is to never touch rice because it has been a problem where people occasionally find rocks breaking their teeth.

De-stressing is another important part of the day to get replenished and energized for the work ahead. After dinner, people gather around the sofa, checking up on each other and sharing light conversations and jokes. Some break away from the group to have a relaxing time on their own, by writing journals and blogs, reading books, or listening to music. Once in a while, we get to reconnect with the outside world through internet and phone calls. Whenever I receive calls or emails from the beloved ones, my heart warms up the way it never did and I appreciate the memories we share. Funny thing is that I’m describing a typical day but for three weeks, not a single day went by the same as other days. Each day has been a special day. One night, we all danced around a bonfire and built closer ties with the Makupo villagers. By a lucky chance, we had a rainy day which is very rare during this dry season. It looked more like mist than rain but the sudden weather change and drop of temperature reminded us that it was, in fact, winter in Africa. When the day comes to an end with the moon rising among millions of starts, another perfect night in Malawi starts with wishes of good night and snuggling back into the sleeping bag, drifting off into adventurous dreams. Usiku Wabwino! Good night!

June 14 – Lovin’ Every Minute of it

By Naomi Crisp

My seat for the weekend

My seat for the weekend

We had another 5 am start to set off for Livingstonia at 6. After a week of hard work I think everyone was ready for a brain break. We packed up the bus then went to Kasungu to pick up Keith and Jenny and then began our long drive. A few hours in, while I was listening to my iPod staring out of the window, I saw 3 little grey monkeys sitting on the side of the road. I was so excited to see these little fellers that I couldn’t imagine what was in store later on. We continued on the highway for another 3 hours and the trees began to change. There were pine trees donated by Canada to help with the deforestation issues that had risen here. But these were no ordinary pine trees, they were immensely high with the trunks looking like someone had gone and stretched them all. The tree looked like a usual pine tree that instead of having a small space at the bottom where the needles end they had a bare trunk lifting 30 foot in the air. It was fascinating to see how trees grow so differently when placed in a new environment, especially for someone who does nature camp at home. It was a few more hours on the road until we reached the windy roads over a mountain and we had to slow down as there were light brown baboon-like monkeys all on the road. We had about a 10 minute drive just staring at the dozens of monkeys: baby ones, big ones, ones meditating on posts, it was great.

By 12:30 pm we reached our last stretch of road. Let’s just say my little brother would have LOVED to take his dirt bike up it! It was so steep and windy that on a regular basis it would have caused concern, but add the fact that it was not paved and you have our last our and a half of travel. I thought it was great fun bouncing around seeing over cliffs and I was standing up to get a better view. Needless to say, the majority of the group didn’t share my enthusiasm on the matter. At one point we all had to get out of the bus because it couldn’t handle the weight and the angle. I think there were a few prayers being said along the way but due to our amazing driver we arrived safe and sound in a breathtaking environment.

We were staying at Lukwe Lodge, a place based on sustainability and environmentally friendly living. The view made you feel as though you were on top of the world. The valleys of trees below went on until it faded into mist, and the lake continued on into the sky. The noises of only birds and waterfalls set the tone for this idyllic site. We hadn’t eaten much all day due to our traveling so when our food came we were in awe. We had steak (a new meal for us here), salad (a new meal for us here) along with vegetable curry, rice, potatoes and bean salad. It was such a delicious meal that we couldn’t stop smiling for hours. We moved over to the fire and sat for a while but everyone was pretty exhausted by the day and with full bellies we went to bed.

I just can’t get over all of the things I have been able to experience and see while coming on this trip. I am so incredibly lucky to have this opportunity! I am off to go camping in a tent with Corinne and we are both so excited to get into our sleeping bags! What a day! What a life!

How Can Such an Amazing Place Go Unnoticed?

By Rebecca Clement

Soaking in the view

Soaking in the view

I have two words to say about Lukwe lodge in Livingstonia – Amazing – Wait was that two words? Oh well you get the idea.  The place we stayed at this weekend was built on the side of a mountain, which creates many outstanding and breathtaking view points.  Some are seen from the front porch of the cabins available to sleep in, as well as from the bar where you have staff happy and eager to help you.  There were two options for the sleeping arrangements, cabin or tent. The cabins slept two and the tents also accommodated up to two depending on the size of the mattress inside. Yes, I did say mattress.  I got to share mine with Annabelle and we had an absolute blast hunting insects at night before bed.  I could do without the bruises however from her grabbing my arm whenever she would find one.

View from behind the waterfall

View from behind the waterfall

Oh and I didn’t even mention the waterfalls yet.  Not only is this place built on the side of a mountain but there is a group of waterfalls within walking distance of the place. They were so close that we could constantly hear the sound of the rushing water.  On Saturday we walked to three different locations where we could see the waterfalls from.  Two of which brought us so close to the falls that if we were allowed and had enough bravery we could have touched them.  This though would have been extremely dangerous considering the height of the potential tumble we could take.  There was one place in particular that I really enjoyed which was when we went into a cave that brought us behind the falls.  Here we could sit and watch the water come crashing down.  The noise did not allow for much conversation since it drowned out any voices around.  This for me would have been an ideal place to sit and rest for a while.  I would have liked to eat lunch there (yummy yummy sandwiches) and just spend time in the silence that such noise creates.  We haven’t had a lot of chances to do things like this due to how busy we are being kept and how we are often surrounded by someone.  You tend not to realize how daunting this aspect of the trip is until the fatigue of it finally hits you and you need to get away at the most inopportune time.

Breath-taking view

Breath-taking view

The weekend on a whole was amazing however and it got me thinking as to why not many people are aware of this country’s existence considering what a beautiful place it is.   Could it be that Africa has adapted such a negative name in the ears of the rest of the world? Is it because of the stereotypes that people have associated to it? Could it be because people have been thinking “Oh poor Africa” instead of “Oh wow Africa”?  I don’t feel qualified to answer these questions since realistically I’ve only been here a couple of weeks.  I don’t claim to be an expert but it is the questions I have been asking myself.  How can such an amazing place go unnoticed?