Tag Archives: Emily

Madzi, Agua, Eau, Uisce, Water…The Essence of Life!

By Emily Parker (Bishop’s)

Pumping water

Pumping water

How long are your showers? Do you let the water run while you brush your teeth? Simple things some of us are not careful with, while Malawians and ¾ of the world are struggling to have access to clean drinking water everyday (Caplan 2008). If this makes you feel bad, it probably should! In all seriousness though, I chose to write about water as a reminder and a form of awareness for us all, including myself.

Without water we would not only be in trouble, but dead-to put it bluntly. Now that I am in Malawi and the water is so restricted, I realize how much water we use for drinking, bathing, cooking, washing, electricity, construction, you name it! Not only that though, when we use it, we use extremely large quantities. Meanwhile, 80% of Africans do not have access to running water (Caplan 2008).That being said, the villages in Africa that actually do have running water are considered privileged, if not wealthy. While even these villages with running water are dangerously restricted, so it seems unimaginable what other villages are going through.

Moreover, even the process of getting water is a tedious task. I have seen countless women pumping water and then transporting litres of water balancing on their heads and some with babies on their backs all at the same time. Meanwhile, back home we simply turn the tap and Voilà, water for everyone! The strength and time difference it takes to access one of life’s necessities from one place in the world to another is huge!

Showers/baths consist of a bucket of water-boiled over the fire and a small cup for rinsing off. Personally, I enjoy bucket showers and I find it incredible how little water I do need to get clean while at home we/I let the water run the entire time. The difference in water consumption is simply unbelievable. However, does this make us bad people? No! It just means that we must use water more responsibly and the first step is awareness then doing it and finally sticking with it! It is not enough just think about it. We need to make the daily decision with a clear goal in mind of reducing our overall use of water; even small changes can make a huge difference.

Balancing water

Balancing water

Remember, actions speak louder than words. Water is for most parts of the world an extreme luxury because of its rareness and vital-ness whereas at home it has become a “luxury item”. We have sparkling water, pools, hot tubs, Jacuzzi baths, and we all know the list goes on and on… The worst part is bucket showers are in fact, so lovely! I want one in Canada!

All in all, I do understand that the realities back home and in Malawi are completely different; I just wish we could help in any small way possible. I also find myself wondering a lot why we, as Westerners are so privileged. This issue will most likely be addressed soon enough when I go into greater detail about reverse-culture shock upon my return to Canada.

References:

Caplan, G. L. (2008). The betrayal of Africa. Toronto: Groundwood Books.

Friendship and Bonding

By Emily Parker (Bishop’s)

The boys contemplating life

The boys contemplating life

Take a group of people, stick them in close proximity for even just a few weeks and what do you have? Lifelong friendship and an unbreakable bond? In my opinion, yes! At least with most people, if not all the people I am with now. Is this because I am naive when it comes to relationships and I think everyone is my friend? Or is it because I have faith in friendship and that it is not because you cannot see someone everyday or in this case, after our return that you cannot remain lifelong friends.

For me, this is not my first trip of this kind and I still feel strong bonds with the people I shared my other experiences/trips with. Perhaps it is the simple act of sharing intense and for some, life-changing moments with others that automatically creates a bond. Regardless, of what it is exactly, I cherish and will continue cherishing every single person I have spent other trips with and those I am with right now here in Malawi, forever.

Parker loves you all!!!

An Adventure Away From Our Home

By Emily Parker (Bishop’s)

The breathtaking view

The breathtaking view

At 5:00 am we were all on the bus heading for Livingstonia; our first “exterior learning opportunity”. I was really looking forward to it. That being said, I was also worried about all the work we still had to do, especially me because I am leaving a bit more than a week earlier than everybody else (so is Rita). Thankfully, the ideas for our units are being expressed and formulated rather well, however it is mostly the editing that is time consuming. Nonetheless, I think with a little more discipline we all as a group can step it up a notch in order to get more done each work day. This would not only allow for the editing, but also the final touches to be done in a stress free manner.

Now back to the “exterior learning opportunity”: We had an interesting day on the bus. It was not long before we got a flat tire, but later on we had the chance to have delicious lattes, cappuccinos and even macchiatos for some, eat too many chips, listen to music and sing along of course, stop in a local village to use their toilets and finally the last part of the drive was a very “sketchy” drive all the way up to the top of Livingstonia where we were staying at Lukwe Lodge. Even so, this was all worth it the second we saw one of the most absolutely breathtaking views I have ever seen. Words cannot describe the feelings or emotions that were passing through me while I gazed out into all the landscape had to offer. The view was filled with different heights of mountains, vegetation, villages a far and best of all, a view of Lake Malawi. Every part of me tried to take it all in at once, but I think it took the entire time we were there and until the very last moment before we left, and still I think I may have missed something.

It was not long after arriving there that everyone was dropping off their belongings in their gorgeous huts or Shayla and I, in our cute little tent. Then shortly after, it was time for relaxing and conversing over a nice cold beverage. The conversations were happy, but mostly grateful for our little escape. When supper time came, the gratitude filled the air 100 times more! The food was absolutely scrumptious and we had salad, without even getting sick! Need I say we were in heaven? This wonderful evening continued with much laughter and new nicknames for everyone… So much fun! I will not mention what time, but later on it was bedtime and Shayla and I cuddled to stay warm on that cold jungle mountain night!

Our little escape to Livingstonia has just been one of the countless opportunities I have had here that constantly remind me to simply appreciate more every minute of every day, no matter where I am or what I am doing. This is easy to say, but I challenge myself to keep the sense of appreciation alive within me even once I am back home, cooped up in my normal everyday life.

Working Together!

By Emily Parker (Bishop’s)

Curriculum building

Curriculum building

The second grade curriculum was in full swing today! It was the first time the four of us (2 Education students from McGill: Lia & Kimberley, 2 Education students from Bishop’s: Clare & I… Go Gaiters Go!!!) actually sat down together since our curriculum “Bootcamp” at Bishop’s with Melanie and Dr. Stonebanks the weekend before our departure. Here in Malawi, we have the opportunity to work with two men from the village. This not only allows us to assure our ideas and activities are culturally relevant, but also that we keep the people here involved in the entire process. One of the Malawian’s we are working with very closely is named Francis and the other is Maxwell. Francis was also a part of the development of the grade 1 curriculum last May 2013. As for Maxwell, he recently graduated from teacher’s college. Between the six of us, in one day, we managed to get close to two full Units done, excluding the process of editing. The first hour or so of work was the toughest. We were all trying to figure out the best way to go about the whole process, but eventually ideas started to bounce off each other more naturally and the ball eventually started to roll much more smoothly.We had already worked to together back home, like I mentioned earlier, however I still really enjoyed the process as well as being surrounded by the people and children that can benefit from our work directly.

In a week hopefully, we will be emerged even deeper in the environment by working directly in the soon to be finished Grade 1 classroom building, which was unfortunately supposed to have been finished on time for the students to have started school September 2013, though neither the classroom nor the teacher house were entirely constructed. Therefore, the aim is to have students coming to our school at least for Grade 1 if not even Grade 2, all depending on our work and the construction by Fall September 2014. In the meantime, we will continue our efforts to create the finest and culturally significant Grade 2 curriculum using local resources. In addition, we are working hard at integrating the locally defined problem areas of existing schools, being: creativity, entrepreneurship and critical thinking which we will keep in mind during the entire process of curriculum development. Lastly and most importantly, as our ultimate goal, we will work to better the future of the children!

I Cannot Find Anything To Blog About…

By Emily Parker (Bishop’s)

Where the magic happens

Where the magic happens

Or can I? Here goes! Since our road trip (for those driving from Montreal to Toronto) to our arrival in Malawi, many ridiculously funny, weird, sweet, awkward, and unforgettable memories have been made.

However, this blog will not discuss those memories specifically, it will be more focused on the thought that came to me while I was sitting in the out-house this afternoon… (too much information?) The thought that struck me was: “It’s easier not to be educated”. This thought was inspired by the visits we had in two near-by schools this morning. Initially, we were supposed to simply be visiting the schools and learning more about them individually, although they ended up being to some extent, tense conversations and questioning of our project; mainly the development of the grade 2 curriculum. I do not think many of us felt 100 percent comfortable answering some of the questions. This was most likely due to the fact most of the queries were making us question last year’s progress as well as our current pre-determined research focus (even though both Dr. Stonebanks and Melanie Stonebanks have made it clear nothing is set in stone).

That being said, if I take you back to the thought that came to me in the out-house which was that: “It’s easier not to be educated”, it was my direct reaction to what we went through during the discussions in the schools and how it made me question ourselves and the work we were about to embark on, but it made me question myself even more. Considering how the principals and teachers were bringing up many points that I hadn’t considered, I wondered if I was prepared enough to contribute to this project. It made me realize that the more I know, the bigger my responsibilities become because I am aware of more “bad things” and I am unable to live in “denial” or disconsciousness.

A personal example of this has been my choice to turn to vegetarianism. I could not bare to harm the animals, our planet or my health any longer and I feel like this example applies well here too. The more I know about the education system in Malawi, the more I want to help and hopefully make positive changes. The problem with the school visits were the questions brought up that really affected me, and my confidence in being a valuable asset to the team. It made me feel that if I was not educated (and made aware of all this new information) life would be easier. In reality though, this is exactly where I want to be and I might just be scared.

This challenge is one of the biggest, most significant and dearest to me. I know my time here is very limited, but I hope to be a part of a valuable change while emerging myself completely in the experience. These are my thoughts for now, I am certain they will change over and over again during the next 4 weeks.

Finally, to end with a quote from the book, The Betrayal of Africa, “while a conspiracy indeed exists, it’s not a secret to those who want to see”, which refers to the relationship between the government and Western policies. I found it relevant seeing how virtually all Westerners know what is going on in Africa, but for a multitude of reasons close their eyes or choose not to do anything about it and go about their regular lives.