Monday, July 25, 2011

Wouldn't you like to know

So I spent a little time looking over this circuitous blog and realized I haven’t ever actually mentioned what it is I’m doing over here. Were you guys just going to let me never say anything?

I’m sure wandering blog passerbies begin to read this and stop, scratch their heads and think “wait just a second, this is the best and brightest from America? Well, to her credit she did figure out how to get an image into a word document, draw on it, export it to a PDF file, and then upload it onto the Internet system comprised of gerbils, wheels, and bits of copper wire. If she can do that she must be doing something outrageously smart and productive.”

Well I’m here to burst your bubble. I made Alex the IT/Engineer guy help me with the spider picture. I took him away from his incredibly busy and important job help me free hand draw a pencil. Thankfully Alex has developed patience and tolerance for me.

Ok, so what am I doing?

Well I’m not going to say quite yet, and here’s why. In three weeks I will FINALLY be done with my orientation phase of this process. I’ve spent the past few months lurking in corners with a chewed up pen and a notepad that Simon peed on asking lots of questions and furtively jotting down such notes as, “man with short tie wants new office” Are new hospital wings expensive? Woman with puff sleeves requests chocolate cake at next training session.”

In three weeks I will give/acquire/be assigned a very important job description complete with my full name, bullet points, and lots of legalish jargon. I promise to dedicate a whole, very adult, blog entry to my very adult job that I’m doing over here. Rest assured, I am working hard over here at more that just Microsoft Draw.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Spider Meets Microsoft Draw

Crisis' here are on hold here. Life semi back to normal, and will hopefully stay that way. Thanks to everyone for the support!

I have discovered Microsoft Draw. Now I can provide you guys with additional commentary and overall enhanced blogging awesomeness.

I would like to introduce everyone to Fred. He is my new roommate. I don't really feel like I had much of a choice in the matter as Fred built his very own in-law suite directly outside my outhouse. If I evict Fred I am petrified he will relocate to the outhouse where the overall visibility is greatly reduced. At least where he is now I can keep in eye on him. I have wishfully named him Fred; if Fred turns out to be a lady, with babies.....

Please note the pencil I have drawn in to portray the scale of his massive bulk. I am not exaggerating. I swear.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Today's update

Things continue to be tense here. Its difficult to decipher truth from exaggeration as the text message and emails fly between the expat community here. Many reports suggest that anywhere from 1-7 people were killed in the demonstrations, that many government and police houses were targeted and set on fire, and that the mob has been setting fire to fuel, tires, and whatever else they can get their hands on.
The hope was that this would fizzle after a day, however, all day there have been rumors of major looting and raiding going on in the cities and the mob vandalizing as they go.
Again, I am far, far away from all of this activity and remain as safe as ever. Myself and other volunteers wait anxiously to see what our status will be if the violence escalates or leaves the cities.
No one worry, throughout all of this there has been no hostility towards foreigners. The people's anger seems to be aimed just at the government and doing what they can to express their point of view.
I will continue updating when I can.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

LIttle More Info

Much has happened in the country today. Read below for updates. Things are very uncertain, but just know that I am very safe. I will try to keep everyone updated with changes.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Basic Explanation of some very Big Problems

I thought it time to take a quick break from the frivolity and discuss the serious state of affairs here in Malawi. Don't you panic US government blogger screener, I swear to you that the contents of this post are strictly observational and any opinions you derive are ones that you reached all by your lonesome.

So here, in a unbelievably watered down and layman explanation, is what is going on today in my country. If I get facts wrong then I'm sorry; I live in mud hut so fact checking isn't super easy.

This all began when Malawian tobacco, our number one export, was made illegal for sale in the United States and part of Europe. It is used as a cheap filler tobacco and contains high concentrations of carcinogens. This means that Malawian Forex has bottomed out. Now, if you live in America, and didn't take advanced economics, than you most likely have NO idea what Forex is. I know I didn't. As I understand it, Forex is where your countries currency holds up in the international que for importation of goods. In other words, how strong is your economy and how much respect do other economies have for you. Our Forex is now very weak, so the Kwatcha is weak, so it now has becoming increasingly difficult to import goods and inflation is sky-rocketing. Malawi, being a landlocked country, already has some major importation constraints so this only adds to the disaster. Most keenly felt throughout the country is the strain on the Petroleum and Diesel reserves. The REPORTED numbers are that we are able to import 30% of what the country needs. Can you imagine if only 3 out of every 10 cars got gas at the gas station? Yeah.. this is causing quite a problem. For instance, my hospital's ambulances are now often at a stand still; we have taken all the diesel from the hospital backup generator to run the cars, but that will only last us so long, we have frequent power outages, and the cars and ambulances will soon be grounded again.
Malawi considers itself a democracy. Recently, the President has come under close scrutiny for how the fuel crisis is being handled. In addition, he has been widely criticized for his alienation of the British Government. As of now, Britain has suspended all further Aid to Malawi, which as a country that relies on foreign aid for a myriad of things from Hospital funding to crop security. This is a HUGE blow to the country, and many hospitals are beginning to feel the effect of this very acutely. The President is also responsible for the cancellation of the Parliamentary Midterm elections (I think that's what they call it). Again, imagine if Obama cancelled elections.

All this combined has led to some very pissed off Malawians. Today, in all the major cities around the country the people are rising up in protest of the high cost of living and the fuel crisis. They are considering this the largest demonstration since 1992. However, last night a high court judge issued an injunction against any of those who decided to protest. BBC reporters discussed international outrage at this suppression of free speech.
Those of us not allowed anywhere near the cities or protests, such as myself, sit and wait to see as the government and the people "meet in the streets."

Keep Malawi in your thoughts today and in the upcoming months.

Again, no opinions given, just stating the facts as I know them.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Follow the Leader...I mean Blogger

Are you following this blog? Well you should! I've become addicted to the blogspot stats, so I can see the various countries people are following me from, and how often the blog is viewed. I'm so flattered and excited that this has taken on such international interest (hopefully not criticism)!! Anyway, if you are popping in from time to time to see what I'm up to then I encourage you to become a blog follower. Its nice to know the audience I'm writing to, and never hesitate to leave a comment or suggestion. I'm always open to suggestions on posts, answer questions, or providing more pictures. I don't know, is this cheating? It does sort of feel like cheating. Is part of having a blog being solely responsible for coming up with witty and original posts?

I'm warning you now, if you don't help me out here I'm going to spend the next two years posting pictures of baby animals, and of me carrying various objects on my head.

Monday, July 11, 2011


Welcome to my Mange Free Zone or MFZ. Every single treatment I have researched involves vacuums and dryers and pesticides. I don't own a single a single one of these things, nor do I have any clue how to acquire them. My only solution is the 22 day quarantine. EVERYTHING has been stripped, and washed and is now hanging on clothes lines outside. However, its been raining for the past three days, and there appears to be no end in sight. So I'm living in the tent since all my linens and mattresses are locked away, and until the rain stops and things can dry I'm wearing my only Mange Free Clothing.

My MFZ is pretty spiffy though. Please note bag of benadryl taped to the outside, mange mittens to prevent nighttime scratching and antibacterial hand gel to use before entering the MFZ.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Mange Management

I realize its been a little while since I last posted. I hope everyone enjoyed their American Independence day. I know I sure did! A group of us took a little break and hitchhiked the 7 hours to the beach. More on hitchhiking adventures later...
Unfortunately, I came home to a small crisis. Me and Simon (dog) have been itching like crazy for several weeks. I managed to get some meds from the Peace Corps Medical office that helped, but when I returned home Simon now has no hair, scabbed everywhere and basically looks like what nightmares are made of. So I managed to wrestled him into a box, get to the only vet in country about 2 hours 2 cars and 2 minibuses away, and now I can comfortably report that the both of us have the mange.
That's Right!!!! THE MANGE
I expected a few fleas, possibly a skin infection. Not the mange. I am now responsible for a small epidemic of the mange that has affected me, the neighbors, the family next door, most of the dogs in the area, even the monkey, and more families are coming forward everyday.

Needless to say I've been a little busy with damage control.

Plan of Attack
  • Shots for Simon once a week
  • Creams and Lotions for me daily
  • Medicine for most of the village
  • Wash every single thing I own (once it stops raining, which it hasn't done in the past three months until now). Until then live in the only pair of clothes I know to be ok, and sleep on the floor in my sleeping back.
  • Quarantine myself and the dog.
  • Simon has a nice pair of homemade slippers and head cone to keep him from scratching. Picture to come
  • Lots and lots of apologizing.
  • Die of shame because I have the Mange.