Living, Loving. Learning.

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A Day in the Life


[Photos: 1) My kids and their karate poses :) 2)My birthday at the beach!]

Friends and Family,

I think a life update is in order. Kelly Russell asked me to describe a day in the life here in Malawi and now that I am finally getting settled in to my new home, I am happy to say that I have fallen into a bit more of a routine and a “typical” day is something I finally have.

I wake up as the sun rises here in Malawi… usually anywhere between 5 and 6 o’clock in the morning. First thing in the morning is what I call my fitness hour. Depending on my mood, I either begin my day with a bit of yoga or, for mental fitness, a game or two of Sudoku. Thank you to the Roligs leaving a partially used book of fantastic fun, I have recently become obsessed with Sudoku and find myself playing the numbers game during any bit of free time I have. After fitness hour, it’s time for breakfast: oatmeal with brown sugar- yes, everyday. Unlike most Malawians, I do not sweep my dirt yard on a daily basis (or ever, really), but my morning chores do include handwashing and hanging my laundry (which is a much bigger chore than this sentence can communicate), watering my papaya trees in hopes that they will survive the hot season, and sweeping my porch to ward of ant infestations. By 7 am, I am already sweating from the humid heat of Salima and a cold bucket bath is the only thing that will give me motivation before I get to work for the day. Around 8 am, I walk out of my yard and onto health centre grounds (a MUCH better commute than it was to downtown LA). At the health centre, I have been rotating departments to observe the type of work they do, their processes, and their daily challenges. The departments we have include: Under 5 (vaccinations and growth monitoring), Maternity, Volunteer Counseling and Testing (VCT) for HIV testing, Anti-Retroviral Treatment (dispensary for HIV/AIDS medications), and Outpatient. I have mostly enjoyed visiting the VCT clinic; most of the staff are actually volunteers and are receiving no pay for the work that they do, but they truly care about the issue of HIV/AIDS and are some of the most motivated staff I’ve yet met. I usually spend one day a week at outreach clinic, which is the under 5 clinic functioning out in the village, or weighing babies at the static under 5 clinic. I love playing with the children and chatting with the Amayis (moms/women).

Around 11:30, all of the staff leave for lunch. Since I usually don’t cook traditional Malawian food for myself, my lunch is made and consumed during the first 15 minutes of the lunch break and I spend the next 2 hours sitting in front of the fan with a book since it is too hot to move... Any longer than that and I follow in my father’s footsteps and start pacing my house because I am extremely antsy. After lunch break, I try to work on my village background analysis, go to the market and mosey around until I meet someone interested in chatting with me, or conduct a meeting with a community group. Last week, I met with an orphan care group in a nearby village with whom I will hopefully be working to assist in communicating with the aid organization. This next week, I am hoping to go to an orphanage closer by to find out what their situation is. There’s a theme arising in my work, its youth.

By 4 or 5 o’clock, if I haven’t already been to the market, I grab something to make for dinner and head home to be “harassed” by my neighbor kids. They have become obsessed with taking pictures (with a recent theme of karate poses), teaching me basic traditional dance moves – and then laughing at me when I try, and doing acrobatics in the sand in front of my house. Somehow, Peace Corps matched me up perfectly with the interests of my neighbor kids… I’m sure I’ll have them doing back handsprings before I leave.

After an hour, I kick the kids out and start piecing together dinner (sometimes PB & J, sometimes spaghetti, sometimes a strange manipulation of the tomatoes, onions and eggs that are the base of my village diet). After dinner, my energy dies down pretty quick… just as I awake with the sunrise, my ability to function decreases with the sunset. So I take another cold bucket bath, climb into my hospital bed and mosquito net and open a book or turn on a movie (or mostly, I just play Sudoku). In general, my day doesn’t sound all that exciting, but one thing is for certain, I’m always learning something new. There is always something to test my patience, some unacceptable disparity becoming apparent and inspiring, somebody new to meet. Truthfully, no day is ever really the same.

Some days are frustrating, dealing with cultural differences or simply missing all the people I love and care about at home, and some days are extremely motivating and exciting, leaving me totally impatient while I wait to start my projects in Nov/Dec. Needless to say, these 4 months in Malawi have been a rollercoaster of emotion, throwing me in directions I didn’t expect. I have realized that I chose to be here for a reason – not sure what that reason is, but I’m really looking forward to finding out :)
Thinking of you all daily and missing you immensely. I hope all is well back stateside – please keep in touch and let me know what you are up to. Sending all my love and positive energy back to you!! xoxo.

In peace and with love,

Brittany

4 comments:

Peter Duby said...

I am glad to hear that you are doing yoga and Sudoku. Sharpening the body and mind. You would have loved to see our house about a month ago. The whole house including Dave, Ben, C Lo, Justin, Nick, and I were doing P90-X yoga in the living room. Sudoku is also my favorite among puzzles. It sounds like you are having a great experience and really getting immersed in the culture there. The kids seem awesome, and it is nice of them to teach you their karate secrets. Is there anything specific that you would like prayer for?

Johnny Payne said...

4 things:
1. i can feel the happiness you are getting from all of this, that is a real encouragement to me
2. i'm definitely coming to visit you in 2010 and excited at the chance to host you in zambia and go back to botswana if we can get there also
3. put on your blog the books you have and are currently reading, we can do an exchange
4. your blog is really cool, mine is very lame but check it out anyway- johnnypayne.wordpress.com

Johnny Payne said...

both you and I need to figure out how we can post at least once a month! we're slackin.

Brittany Lauren said...

Johnny, we ARE slacking... what the heck?! Can't wait to figure out a Zambia trip!! We'll have to get some details figured out...
Thanks for the suggestion about the books... I will figure out a way to do that next time I jump on here :)

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