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.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I'm leaving on a jet plane don't know when I'll be back again

Well today is the day.  I have a few short hours left in Dalton.  Then its off to Albany to catch my plane to Philadelphia to meet the rest of the group, start medicine, and get injections.  Saturday we wake up before most people are home from the bars and travel up to NYC to JFK to fly to Johannesburg, 15 hours - YES! Then a quick jaunt up to Malawi and the adventure begins.  During training I don't think I will have many opportunities to update my blog so bear with me for about 9 weeks or so.  Well, I need to get everything ready.  Talk to you when I can.

-Matt

Friday, February 18, 2011

Dalton man plans Peace Corps trip to Africa - Berkshire Eagle Online

Dalton man plans Peace Corps trip to Africa

By Amanda Korman, Berkshire Eagle Staff

DALTON -- Tent? Check. Sleeping bag? Check.

Silly Bandz?

There's only so much you can do to prepare for a 27-month stint with the Peace Corps in Sub-Saharan Africa. For Matt Dindio, who leaves for Malawi next Thursday, the kids' rubber bands shaped like animals, the candy bracelets and the bottle of bubbles in his luggage are for the children he'll encounter working as a community health adviser in a nation ravaged by HIV and AIDS.

"I'm not going in trying to save the world," said the Dalton resident. "I'm a realist. I think it's more that you do something to help out."

Dindio, 29, is already intimately acquainted with some of the odder wonders of the United States -- he was a public affairs specialist for the snafu-ridden Big Dig while a student at Suffolk University, and after earning his master's, he spent six months driving a tram at the parking lot of the Animal Kingdom in Disneyworld.

But Malawi is literally a world away. Dindio is preparing to be without running water or electricity for the extent of his trip.

"I wanted to go do something different," he said. "Whenever you travel, you don't get the whole. You don't see the culture of it. This, you're living the exact same way as your neighbor."

Scattered across his parents' living room floor are stacks of items waiting to be packed up. The gifts Dindio is bringing for children will hopefully ease some of the difficulty of what is likely ahead of

him, as his father, Ross Dindio, pointed out.
"I think he's going to see people dying right in front of him -- little kids," he said. "He's going to come back a different person."

Malawi is ranked ninth in the world for HIV/AIDS infection -- almost 12 percent of adults have the disease. Due to the high mortality rate, the average age of the 15 million people is 17 years old.

As a community health adviser, Dindio will work with families in which the heads of household are 13 or 14 years old, their parents dead from AIDS or malaria. A former public affairs aide to Pittsfield Mayor James Ruberto, Dindio will be putting his communications experience to work through outreach and education with the Malawian community and clinics.

The challenge ahead of him will also be difficult for those he leaves behind.

Asked how he was dealing with his son's pending departure, Ross Dindio said his feelings were mixed, then choked up.

Elaine Dindio picked up where her husband left off. "We're going to miss him terribly," she said.

Dindio has been living at his parents' Dalton home since ending his three-year stint as Ruberto's aide.

Having him at home means his departure will feel like losing him all over again, Ross Dindio explained.

"Being a parent, we support what they want to do. That doesn't make it easy," he said.

Dindio won't know where in the country the size of Pennsylvania he'll be stationed until seven weeks into training. His parents won't find out until weeks after that -- and even then, communication will be scant and slow. The Peace Corps has instructed them that no news is good news.

In the meantime, the Dindios are enjoying their last days with their son before he is changed indelibly -- by the dry heat, by the taste of Malawian's corn food staple called nsima, and by the disease epidemic in which, Dindio acknowledges, he can only begin to make a dent.


Story featured in the Berkshire Eagle.

-Matt

PS - 6 days in the countdown.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Malawi seeks to outlaw 'passing gas'

LILONGWE, Malawi, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika's administration is proposing laws to criminalize passing gas to annoy others and insulting women's modesty.
The proposed laws, which are written into the Local Courts Bill set to be introduced to the incoming Parliament, include measures to ban "passing gas" with the intention to "mold responsible and disciple citizens," "insulting the modesty of a woman," "disturbing religious assemblies" and "trespassing on burial places," Afrik.com, Paris, reported Monday.
Opposition leader John Tembo said the bill, which would also impose penalties on people posing as fortune tellers, would create a "kangaroo-like court" that would "not be ideal for a democracy."
© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
As you can clearly see above, things might get difficult in Malawi.  From what I've read beans are one of the staples.  So stay tuned and keep your eyes on the international news, who knows if something happens President Bill Clinton might have to do another rescue mission, and save some Peace Corps Volunteers.

PS - 22 days in the countdown.

-Matt

Friday, January 21, 2011

Leaving for...

Well I'm just about on time for my monthly post.  On Friday, January 14, I received my PC invite in the mail.  For all of you that haven't seen one, its quite overwhelming.  Lots and lots of reading to do, paperwork to fill out, and packing (I think I'll make the 80 lbs mark).  I've started to order all the things I think I will need for my two years of service in Malawi.

Malawi looks like a pretty sweet place I'm not going to post information about the country, don't be lazy, just Google it.  I will be in training from February 24 through April 27, then my service will be from April 27, 2011 to April 26, 2013.  I will do one more post before I leave then who knows when I'll be able to post again.

-Matt