By Rebecca Clement
Since I’ve arrived I have yet to have a dream which for me is extremely weird since I normally dream on a nightly basis. I was feeling jealous because many of the girls were having extremely vivid dreams that they have been sharing with the group. When I mentioned that I hadn’t had a dream yet it became a daily thing to mention whether I had had a dream yet or not. It took awhile but I am happy to write that I have finally had a dream! And it’s not one I can share because it is much too embarrassing. Which is so frustrating. I’m used to being able to share anything with my boyfriend even if it was the most embarrassing thing ever. I’m missing the feeling of being able to tell someone everything and anything when it pops into my head. What’s hard about this living situation is we are a group of strangers that not only live together but work together as well. Living in close quarters brings the inconvenience of never being alone. However though I have these moments of frustration I am still greatly enjoying my time here. Feelings of missing my family are being mixed in with feelings of enjoyment as we carry on with our curriculum development. We had our first whole day of curriculum development today (06-10-13) and I have to say I’m really enjoying it. Though being in Malawi is amazing in itself, I’m extremely glad that I’m doing something that I enjoy. I find that missing my loved ones goes away when I’m working since I’m being kept well occupied. The others involved in this project are helping to keep me well occupied and entertained as well. It’s a comfort to know that the weeks coming up will be spent with people whom I truly enjoy.
Something that gave me a moment of pause while speaking with Cynthia, a teacher in training who is working as a co-learner with us, was when she told us that teachers here have not been paid in the past three or four months and would probably never receive the pay that is due to them. This got me thinking about the teachers’ motivation to continue being teachers. At first I thought “Wow you must really be dedicated to the idea of education to work without pay” but then realized that it is possible that they might just be working for the hope of future pay. When I brought this up with Cynthia on a separate day she told me she couldn`t tell me why people do it but thought maybe it was a little bit of both. She also included that when you first start to work as a teacher they postpone your pay because they’re “adding you to the system”. She told us a story about how one teacher went without pay for two years before being added to the system. By the end of the discussion, I learned about many of the hardships of teachers here in Malawi. This got me thinking about what I would do if ever I was put in this situation. I still haven’t reached a conclusion but will get to you if ever I do.
To read more about the challenges faced by teachers in Malawi, read a blog post written by Sophie Bass who was part of the group that traveled with Praxis Malawi in 2011 and 2012 and Mr. Henry Lemani who is an elementary teacher in Malawi. https://blogs.learnquebec.ca/blog/2012/08/school-life-in-malawi-the-challenges-faced-by-malawian-teachers/