Monday, February 4, 2013

I Found a Whitey

187 days since my last post and 73 days till I arrive back in America. 

Now that that's is out of the way…I found a white hair on my head! I'm not talking that Backstreet Boys/N'Sync/98° frosted tips crap. I'm talking I skipped right over grey and went straight to white! I liked the changes that I have experienced here in Malawi so far, but come one! This is over the line! Now I know some of you reading this are distinguished (wink,wink) but I just wasn't ready to be a member of the League of Distinguished Gentlemen. Who am I kidding? It was gonna happen one day.

So since I've posted last time what has happened? I came pretty close to signing up for 1 more year of Peace Corps service. But at the last minute I decided against it. Long story but I'm calling it the Mosquito Effect. 

Well Thanksgiving was going to be a small, 5 person, gathering, but Monday afternoon I got a call from a group of priests asking me to do a repeat of the previous year. So down to Balaka I went, about 60 miles from my house, and cooked for a day and a half. Bron, a Peace Corps Volunteer who served in Peru, was my sous chef. 31 happy and fattened people left that evening. They represented:
Italy
Germany
Israel
South Africa
Malawi
Zambia
England
America

Christmas was amazing! Hung out at Nkhata Bay, up in the north of Malawi. Had a bungalow right on the beach for 7 days. Swimming and relaxing was the theme. On Christmas itself everyone at the lodge cooked different dishes and we all shared a great feast.

New Years was spent on another beach, Cape Maclear. Most memorable I've ever had, it will be pretty hard to top it. No details will divulged.

My birthday. I was at a bottle shop (bar) with a small group of friends and a Malawian man heard that it was my birthday so he shook up his beer and sprayed me in the face like it was champagne. That was after a T-bone steak dinner :-)

So my countdown has begun! 19 books to read before I finish. Can I do it? Of course I can.

But seriously. 

This experience has been the strangest, most emotional, thought provoking, soul searching, and worthwhile adventure that I have ever undertaken. From the fact that I lost 80 pounds, to learning (semi) Chichewa, and helping people achieve their goals that they didn't think they could accomplish, to meeting people that I'll never forget and will hold a special place in my heart even though I've never told them that; I will never forget Malawi and will use what I learned here everyday and pass it on. I know I ran a bit long there - Pepani (that means sorry by the way).

So now that I see the light at the end of the tunnel what am I to do?

Well after I get home and get my dog acclimated to being around more than 2 white people at a time and me drinking something other than water and Carlsberg, I want to hop on my motorcycle and see a bit of America. I've got people to see, places to go, and things to do. Some destinations so far:
Chicago
San Francisco
Las Vegas
Austin
New Orleans
Key West
Orlando
Philadelphia
Baltimore
Suggestions accepted especially if I can stay at your place

Then off to work. Who knows what I'm going to be doing of where I'm going to be doing it, but I'll keep you posted. 

Well this will probably be my last post while being in Malawi as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I want to thank you for reading my blog and for your comments.

OUT

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Back to Malawi

As Cliff Clavin said, on more than one occasion, Its a little known fact that I'm going back to Malawi tomorrow.  Yep thats right, I've been in America since June 26.  I've had a great time seeing all my family and friends.  I went to Maine with Cusson and Kent, saw the Red Sox lose to the Blue Jays, but I had the best seats in the house, thanks to Kent, drank way too many beers that were't Carlsberg, ate some of the best/worst food America has to offer, rode my motorcycle here/there/everywhere, used technology, and best of all brought back amazing weather (it only rained once).  I'd like to thank all the people that traveled to see me, took time out of their days to hang out, brought me out for food or drinks, and most of all put up with my ramblings about my life in Malawi.


As I leave tomorrow, August 2, I head back to the place I have called home for the past 16 months.  A place where I have made great friends, saw things you only see on TV, experienced things that not many people can ever understand, and lived like many people would never want to.  The next 9 months will be but a blink of an eye.  I hope to finish my projects and make them sustainable, but if it doesn't work, well such is life.  I am a changed person because of this, and as I come back next year with gifts and memories, I will also be bringing back my dog. (It's one of those things now, whenever I talk about Africa my dog has to be mentioned.) So I will see you all April 2013.

Have fun. Don't hurt yourself. Stay off drugs.

Monday, February 27, 2012

365 Days Down

Time sure does fly by. Exactly 1 year ago today, February 27, I arrived in Malawi to begin my Peace Corps service. It really has been a strange experience. Every day is an eternity, each 24 hour period feels like it will never end, but come Saturday night, I look back and say where did the week go? The same thing happens on the first day of each month, when I sit back and enjoy my monthly cup of Jack Daniels, “I can’t believe it’s already a new month.”

Yea, sometimes I wonder, “What the hell am I doing here? What difference am I making?” And I don’t have the answers to those questions. Yea, some days I want to leave go back to the good ole US of A, God, do I miss it. But I look around and 99.9% of the people around me will never have the opportunity in their entire lives to see the States, I on the other hand just have to wait 14 months. Until you no longer have it, even if you don’t use it often, you don’t realize how much you miss it; and that goes for everything.

I want to thank all of you that have emailed, called, or sent mail to me. It’s always good to hear from you back home. I really don’t know what else to talk about, maybe that’s why I upload a new blog once every 3 months or so. I would call myself lazy, but that’s not true, maybe 95% true, but definitely not 100%.  Maybe its because I don't know what you want to hear/know about.  It has become normal everyday life to me so I don't know what interests you have.  Well because I've got nothing else on my mind, I'll wrap this up.

Keep in touch and let me know what you want to hear about.  Have fun, don't hurt yourself, and stay off drugs.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Right on Time

What am I on time for? No clue. I started off with the blog back in December of 2010, I guess, and I thought I'd do at least one post per month. We can see how that turned out. It's amazing how people can sit down and do this everyday. Maybe my life isn't that exciting, who knows and who cares. I talk to my parents usually each Friday, but it's amazing how most weeks I have nothing to talk about. It must be surprising to all of you back in America that I've got nothing to talk about, especially being in Africa, but life has almost become the same ole same ole. I still enjoy what I'm doing, but God, sometimes it's impossible to do anything, think of working in government, but where no one has money, speaks your language, or doesn't want to do anything unless they get something in return. Enough with my opening rant on to more pressing matters. 

277 days in Malawi, 218 at Namandanje, and 509 till I finish my service, but who is keeping track, not I.

Well thanksgiving here in Malawi was pretty awesome. Turkey, gravy,  stuffing, cranberry sauce, green beans, cream style corn, mashed potatoes, bruchetta, pizza, latkes, honey glazed carrots, pecan pie, cheesecake, and Jack Daniels. Not only was it celebrated in an international location but Italy, Germany, Poland, Malawi, and America were represented with the 20 guests at the tables.

I've been doing a lot of reading, 35 books so far, and halfway through #36. I have been more involved with the local health center, I've succeed in creating a more viable money system, but acquiring drugs is still a huge problem. I am currently trying to get two computer labs up and running here, two is always better than one.

More about me, I've mastered the are of nsima making, google nsima make it easier for both of us. I have a puppy, his name is Dobby, he's a good dog, trying to teach him some tricks. He's got sit, lay down, stay, and bathroom notification down pat. I've lost 53 pounds as of today, check out my facebook photos to see the new look. 

Well this is when I start blanking on what to blab about. Send me emails, I really enjoy getting them. Some of you have mailed me letters, you know who you are, thank you very much. Talk to you all soon.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

100 Days at site so what do I have, random thoughts to give you

Well guess it's been long enough since I updated my blog. As of today I have been in Malawi 159 days and at my site, Namandanje, 100 days. Time has gone by very fast. I really don't know where to start, but I've been very busy, check the end of the blog for the newly updated list of projects that I'm planning, working on, and/or have completed. 

I've met many great people and have been a few places. Don't want to give away too much information, because you never know who's reading :-). But I've heard Lucius Banda put on a good concert last weekend and the Black Missionaries aren't to shabby either.

You might have heard on the news about the protests that have been happening around these parts. Malawians aren't happy with the lack of fuel, lack of foreign currency, and human rights issues. 18 people were killed in the last set of protests, July 20. The next set of protests are on August 17, so pay attention to the news. The government doesn't seem to be doing much with the problems expect making statements. But read this article for yourself - http://bppmw.com/national/42-all/2031-callista-tells-ngos-go-to-hell.html

I especially like this part: “Eighty-five percent of Malawians live in villages. Do these people need fuel for vehicles or forex to travel outside? Maybe I should ask you villagers: do you need fuel as if you have cars or forex as if you do cross-border trade? No!"

Well who knows what's going to happen around these parts. I'm alive and well and that's all that matters.

Next month I travel back to Dedza for inservice training and get to see all the volunteers that I went through training with, will be great.

Well that's all I got, oh one more thing. List of foods I've eaten here that I never ate in America:
White corn
White corn nsima
Yellow corn nsima
Sorghum nsima
Caterpillars
Fried flying ants
Live flying ants
Goat
Mice (whole with fur and everything)
Pigs liver
Rabbit

Talk to you all soon. Email me sometime, it's always nice to get emails here.

-Matt

Peace Corps Projects at Namandanje

- Library consolidation, 2 into 1
- Book donation grant
- Library committee formation
- {•} Grant to get the laboratory retrofitted with lab desks for the secondary school - $300/Mk44,780 7/4/2011
- {•} Electricity at the secondary school - 7/2/2011
- Grant for 25 computers at the secondary school
- Advising Namisangu Community Based Organization (CBO) to create an Income Generating Activity (IGA)
- Advising Ngongondo CBO in peanut butter and peanut oil production
- Business training for Namisangu CBO
- Advising the Honey Girls to improve honey production
- Business training for Honey Girls
- Advising the Honey Girls to in opening a community store
- Working with Mgona Group Village Head (GVH) to get a borehole for his 6 villages
- Working with Health Surveillance Assistants (HSA) to fix boreholes in Thierry catchment areas
- Working with Machinga Water Supervisor in borehole repairs
- Advising Mbonerchera Youth Friendly Group to increase participants
- Creating primary school feeding program
- Working with local organization, Dream, to create positive children program
- Create scholarship for girls at the secondary school
- {•} Facilitate training for Ngongondo HIV/AIDS support group 8/3/2011
- {•} Helped local soccer team acquire a soccer ball 7/1/2011
- {•} Assisted a widow with a monetary donation 6/25/2011
- {•} Advised Teacher Development Center (TDC) committee in funding issue 6/1/2011
- Help with the reorganization of the local health center
- Book donation from Pittsfield, MA to the new library
- Planning a fundraising campaign back in America to purchase 1,000 desks for the primary school - Rotary International - $45,000
- Planning vision day were people get their vision checked then given glasses if necessary - Lion's Club

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Officially 90 days in Malawi

What a fast 90 days. So much has been going on. I've learned Chichewa, cook on an open fire, how to make nsima, use a pit latrine, survive without electricity, running water, and Internet/cell reception. The funny thing is that I didn't need to learn any of that, except a bit of Chichewa. As you read from my last post I've got the above mentioned items in the bag, and I'll be moving into my own house on May 31. Which means I'm gonna start making Jungle Hooch (Peace Corps wine). Enough about me how about what I've been doing and what I'm going to be doing.

1. Began a library consolidation, 3 into 1. Should be all done with a couple months.
2. Started planning and researching a lunch program for the local primary school, they don't feed the children in most schools here, and this school had been identified as having many malnourished children.
3. Trying to get the secondary school hooked up to electricity.
4. Trying to get the borehole at the secondary school repaired.
5. Will be teaching History to form 1 & 2 at the secondary school starting in the fall.
6. Wrote and submitted a grant to get the laboratory retrofitted with lab desks for the secondary school.
7. Working with the water supervisor to fix the many boreholes in the area, have helped fix 5 already.
8. Next week will be submitting another grant to build a borehole for 6 villages, currently the 2,250+ peoople walk 2-3 km to get water from a riverbed that is dry for half the year.
9. Advising a home based care group on how to operate more smoothly.
10. Advising a community based organization on better business practices.
11. Setting up training for a group that wants to form a HIV/AIDS support group.
12. Hopefully will be able to help with the reorganization of our health center.

These items I need your help on... I need to raise money for these items.
13. Trying to get books sent over to be put in our newly reorganized library. Money for shipping - couple hundred dollars for all the books to ship.
14. Want to build a borehole, I know I've mentioned this term a few times, it's how people get their water. It's a hand operated pump that pull water from a well. Anyways gotta have kore around here - $7,000.
15. Last but not least the primary school does not gave desks for the students. I know what your thinking, a school without desks, its like NASCAR without beer and sausages. But unfortunately it's true. Close to 2,000 children attends classes and sit on a concrete floor for 7 hours a day, 5 days a week to get an education, kinda unimaginable back in the good ole USA, pictures will be on their way. This little venture I'm trying to do will cost close to $45,000.

So I will leave you all with this. If you can help great, shoot me an email, mrdindio@gmail.com, and I will give you more info.

I hope all is well with you back in the States and don't be a stranger.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Alive and Well in Malawi

Well I've been in malawi for almost two months now and it is pretty good. So far I have lived at the Dedza forestry college (1 week), Mkomeko village (5 weeks), at my future Peace Corps site - Namandanje, Lilwonde, and now I'm in Zomba for a week. As you can tell from reading this, I have Internet now, thanks Apple iPhone, greenp0isn, and Airtel. My home for two years is pretty sweet - electricity, running water, flushing toilet, washing machine, amazing food (provided by the Catholic church) and a great/friendly community. The only downside is the cell phone reception is less than perfect, actually its less than bad. Other than that the food here isn't that bad. Transportation is a slow process here, but I've been hitchhiking like crazy, so I can save my kwacha for other things. I have two phone numbers here if anyone wants to call me it costs me nothing to get calls. 265992127414 and 265991444849. Best time to call me is between 10am and 1pm eastern standard time. Or you can always email me, mrdindio@gmail.com. Well I'm signing off I hope all is well with you all, until next time.