Thursday, December 27, 2007

Nov/Dec Pictures

This is Jong Soh, my teammate and roommate. We eat good. The food you are seeing is a fusion concept. Raw mangoes and pineapple together between us. For the main course, some kimchee (korean spicy cabbage), two different kinds of sauteed veggies (including greens and onions from our house garden), and rice with some soft-scrambled eggs. This meal cost us about one U.S. dollar each to purchase and prepare. The kimchee is shipped from his parents in Korea, so that doesn't count.

This is Johns. What more can I say? He is one of the neighbors. This is one of three photos of him over at our house with his brother and uncle (try finding a picture of them--John's is kind of the show stealer). This kid is not starving. The only thing he has want for are more firecrackers so that he can set them off just before midnite, and then run inside with glee. His family is on my short list of "the best parts of Malawi."

#2: The Coma

Johns with my backpack.

Johns and I.

Not Johns. This is a random car I saw down the street from our offices. Seeing as it is a Benz, and it's in a ditch in Malawi, I felt I had to snap a photo of it. I looked around it, and there wasn't much damage to the body. Nobody knew how it had ended up there. If it had been a crash in the rain, I would have expected more damage, but who knows, it must have been the rain. Not too far from here is a convenience store which employs a couple of locals who have been trying to get me to drink with them and to smoke or buy some "chamba" (guess what that is.) Lately it has gotten ridiculous. I'm getting more and more aware of the convictions behind my sobriety. These two tried to hook me up with a 16 year-old girl for some "no-strings-attached" good times. I don't go there much anymore. Not my scene, I guess.

This is one of the Community-Based Organizations (with me on the right) which exists in Akidu's Field. Akidu is one of the 50 Field Officers whom I am working with during my stay here. The guy standing next to me in the back row is the Village Headman for this village. It is close to Mponda, but I can't remember this village's name. Groups of individuals such as these, work together in self-run clinics, and schools to develop their communities. These folks also double as "Passionates"--volunteers who partner with Akidu and the other Field Officers to further the initiatives of our HIV/AIDS social awareness campaign.

Cute kid in Mponda.

This is through the windshield of a mini-bus. I love this picture. Sprite, bananas, the broken glass, and that awesome teddy bear hanging from the center.

More rare mini-bus moments...

This is the guy on the mini-bus who takes the money. He will fill up the bus through the side door as the driver takes precarious curbs to sidle out of traffic, vying for the best position in a veritable sea of mini-busses. He will fill up with half a liter of petrol (gas), and wedge in between an already smooshed two rows of passengers who are facing each other, somehow sliding a rusty door along it's hinges to close with a click behind his back like a magic trick. He always has a wad of Kwacha in his hand, and coins in his pockets. He sees every single person on the street, remembers how much change he owes every passenger, and has the flexibility of a gymnast. This particular guy escorted me in a pretty empty bus back from Mponda and shared some crazy, squash-like fruit with me. These fruits were dirty, but tasty. They were like a tiny cross between an orange and a pumpkin.

A favorite tree in a remote village.

A village water pump.

Part of the march during World AIDS Day. December 1st. Lots of schools and NGO's were represented. I think these are some girls from a local primary school. I like their signs. VCT stands for Voluntary Counselling and Testing.

This is a photo before the march. These guys begged me to take this photo. I am so glad I did.

The folks in the red hats are all members of Blantyre Troop North within TCE. From the left, Mercy, Brenda, Wezzie, Blessings, Oliver (-hat), Adzafunikah, Rabson, and Michael (-hat). These folks are awesome. They are on holiday until January 11th. Then they start the 2nd year of their contracts. They are each accountable for fields of approximately 2,000 people. This accountability hinges on reaching these people with facts about HIV/AIDS, as well as access to testing and counselling resources. They will have a rare opportunity to test as individuals in their 50-person troop for certification from the Malawian Government as Health Counsellors sometime in the next couple of months. They work with huge groups of people over long periods of time. Each of them is gaining skills from this work that will help them succeed nomatter where they choose to focus their energies next in life. Many of them want to continue on in an administrative position within TCE Malawi as the organization expands in 2010 outside the district of Blantyre. Many others want to travel and/or continue their education. One of the Field Officers gave birth to a smelly, cute baby girl just before Christmas and will be back to work by February. Can you imagine handling the responsibilities in a field of 2,000 people while 6 to 8 months pregnant?!

Weird, but learnable marble game which is played in markets and street corners all over the city. I will learn how to play, and I aim to bring back a board with me when I come home. There is a lot of pizzazz while playing this game. Quick wrist flips as marbles jump from one pocket to the next. The faster the style of play, the louder the final slamming of marbles is which marks the end of one players turn.

This is Dickison, the Uncle of Johns. He is a quiet, kind man. He manages a store out of a small brick enclosure across the street from our house in Chinyonga. I was teaching him english before the holidays, and I'd like to carve out some time to continue working with him. Teaching him english is a challenge, because he already has such a strong mastery of certain words. Chichewa and english are thrown together a lot here, so it's really something to figure out just where to start without keeping it too simple or making it too difficult. His nephews and niece all speak perfect english, so myself and Jong Soh have been urging them to work with him since they all live in the same house. But we've noticed an attitude of disrespect lately which makes us sad. The kids seem to consider themselves to be better than their Uncle, or from a higher class. This structure has them getting fantastic educations, without a single concern for the education and future of this amazing man.

This is Daniel. He is one of the very well-educated young people who live in our neighborhood. He is also brilliant guitar player and gospel singer. This is a photo taken during one of our first nights in the neighborhood. Seeing this shirt on a native Malawian really moved me. Once every couple of weeks we run into this guy, invite him over, and we talk over a good meal. The last meal was all raw food. cabbage, onion, tomato, cucumber, pineapple, mango, and oranges.

Although I'm wearing the same clothes as in the photo below, I think that this is another day later in the first week. You can see Henderson on the right, and then another dude on the left. These guys sell woodcarvings underneath of the awning above our heads. The space of their wares is only a quarter length of a very short city block, and the space is shared by more vendors than I can remember wanting to count. I gave my word to Henderson that I would buy from him before I leave Malawi. The footpath from our headquarters in Blantyre to one of the mini-bus depots is directly through this street, not to mention my favorite restaurant, Crazy Kitchen. I have taken the habit of walking directly down the middle of the street so that vendors have a harder time grabbing me by the elbow and pulling me towards their sales.

This was our first day out from the house. We arrived late on the 11th of October. We were so tired that we slept for 24 hours before getting up briefly and then sleeping for 12 more. Behind is the road to Chinyonga, and Blantyre beyond. Chinyonga is the residential village where we've lived for the first month and a half of our stay.

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