Living, Loving. Learning.

Please join me on this inspired and fun-filled journey of creating the life of my dreams!

February/March Whirlwind

Hiking Mt. Mulanje with Health '09 Group.


One of the many BEAUTIFUL views...

Reaching the peak, Sapitwa!


Basketball tournament up in Nkhotakota.


Alinon's last week.


Our very own chippies stand  - thanks to Bright and Tim!

A few of several friends able to make it up for the party.


Dear friends and family,

Thank you for your patience as I have been slacking off with my blog-writing responsibilities. February and March came with some highs, some lows and mostly a lot of changes.

Since I last wrote, my time in Khombedza has been quite limited...

Camp G.L.O.W. (Girls Leading Our World) has really begun to take off and the amount of work associated is beginning to increase exponentially. As you know, I was selected by my group to assist in coordinating the counselors at the camp, which is mostly comprised of training and... (wait for it..) conflict resolution. Right now I am focused purely on preparing curriculum for the counselor training and disseminating applications for those who want to be counselors or know of great local women who can also serve in that role. We have also decided to add an additional leadership component to Camp G.L.O.W. by bringing back women who have participated in years past to be "Junior Counselors." I will begin putting together an outline of their curriculum together this week to make sure we can really take GLOW to the next level. I couldn't be more happy to assist with this project... In my opinion, women's empowerment is the most important thing for moving Malawi forward into sustainability, and there's an overwhelming amount of work to be done.

*PLUG: Please check out our website!!! http://www.campglowmalawi.com/

We've posted a description of the GLOW empowerment camp, its history, a few pictures, and ways you can assist us. If you are able to assist financially, there is a link to a partnering non-profit which allows you to claim your donation as tax-deductible.

Around the beginning of March, Alinon found out that his grandfather had passed away. Since he was so close to the end of his service, Peace Corps allowed Alinon to close his service early so that he could attend the memorial. He spent the first week of March packing up his things, saying goodbye to his community and organizing his quick departure (I tagged along to keep him company). Luckily, we had already planned to have a small party at a friend's site, so some of our closest friends here in Peace Corps were able to come out and say goodbye to Alinon before he left. It was such a blessing to have friends around - thanks to those of you who were able to make it. The second week of March, we came to Lilongwe so that he could finish his medical and administrative requirements for leaving the country and closing his service. Of course, I'm very sad that he had to leave a couple months early (or even at all), but happy that Peace Corps was so supportive in helping him get home in time. Life after he left has been quite an adjustment... Luckily, we have been able to keep in good contact, but I definitely feel like I am learning how to settle in at site all over again. He made my original adjustment so much easier and now its time to step up to the challenge and really make this experience my own.

The day he left, I went back to site for a short time - focused on researching water and sanitation issues in Arthur's catchment area, setting up fruit tree projects with the health centre and secondary school, introducing a potential HIV and AIDS education project to a primary school, participating in a basketball tournament, and of course, working on GLOW. Other than Camp GLOW meetings, I have also been busy with VAC (Volunteer Advisory Council), which called me back to Lilongwe a mere week later, as well as another workshop with the Dreyfus Foundation and Local Initiative for Better Health. The training was WONDERFUL. It helped Arthur and I organize our thoughts on our new project, helping to build pit latrines. The workshop focused mostly on problem analysis and provided a framework for proposal writing which was awesome for my counterpart to get that experience. I feel confident that if I had to leave today, he would have the skills and contacts to complete whatever project he wanted to. Cool, right?

On Easter weekend, several volunteers from my incoming group decided that we should hike Mt. Mulanje. YES PLEASE! We went to Mulanje for a 3 day hike up and down the Mountain (3rd highest in Africa). Mulanje was so BEAUTIFUL and quite the challenging climb. I would do it again in a heart beat (any visitors coming!?). I made it all the way up to the peak, it's named Sapitwa ("People don't go there") - doing a fair amount of bouldering and scrambling which was a LOT of fun. I will admit though that I hired a porter to help carry my bags because my back has actually been injured for quite some time now. Maybe not the "best" decision to climb a mountain, but it felt wonderful to be out and active in nature (trees) again... something I feel I have been missing here.

We also spent a day in Blantyre, visiting all the places that remind us of America - we even went to a movie theater where we got to watch Sherlock Holmes!! I won't go into detail though - you are probably used to good food and entertainment. Point is, it was a great escape for a day.

Now I am back in Lilongwe, working on some things GLOW related and preparing to go back to site. A little nervous given that the ups, downs and changes of the last two months are finally going to have to settle in and I will have to get used to my new Malawian life. A LOT will be happening in the next few weeks - tree plantings, village surveys, GLOW, proposals, the start of a soccer league... hopefully I will be able to schedule a few mental breaks here and there.

Health update: my body has not been too happy with me lately. I injured my back quite some time ago and have been working on re-building muscles and loosening others. I also have been struggling with anemia (due to a low iron diet) and its effects (hair loss, bruising, lack of energy), the shingles (after using an aloe plant, they are finally healing), a "non-allergic" reaction to a bug bite that has been causing certain glands to produce histamine spots all over my legs, among other things. I am not a big fan of utilizing medicines, so I am really looking forward to cutting down my pill consumption in the next few weeks. While this certainly hasn't been fun, its been a great lesson in realizing what people in my community are dealing with every day. Please keep me in your thoughts - I'm determined to prioritize my health a little bit more.

Well, for now I think that's it! I don't have pictures dowloaded just yet, but come back in a few weeks and I will post some pictures from the engagement party and Mulanje. I'm hoping my next post is full of news related to project progress and other exciting new things happening at site. If you get the chance, shoot me an email, letter, or phone call to let me know what is going on in your lives. As usual, I am missing you all immensely.

Oh yea, don't forget to check out http://www.campglowmalawi.com/. Thanks!!!!

Peace, love and laughter,
B.

ShoutOuts:

- Congratulations, Dan, on your promotion!! I am so proud!!!

- My Lil' Sis (Delta Delta Delta) Marcia Garcia is graduating from Pepperdine this month with a near perfect grade point average. Congratulations on finishing and I know all your hard work will pay off!!!

- Grandma and Grandpa, I just received your package yesterday! Thank you from the bottom of my heart. The Emergen-C is bound to help with my host of health issues :)

- Brian and Kristy Rolig, just welcomed their new daughter Ingrid into the family. Congratulations!!

- Go Blazers!!!

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