Monday, June 18, 2012

Malamulo Youth Services

My major project at Malamulo hospital has been to create a usable space for impoverished youth in the my area.  Our youth are at extremely high risk for contracting HIV due in part to the lack of HIV education, issues with female empowerment, and stigma behind receiving health care.  The Malamulo Youth Friendly Services Center will offer a variety of medical and educational services to our youth.  The center will provide education sessions, games, and other activities for young people to participate in so that they may become comfortable with the staff and environment.  We will offer medical services such as family planning methods, counseling on safe sex practices, crisis and rape counseling, providing HIV testing and counseling, and prenatal care.  There will also be a female empowerment curriculum offered to girls in the community.  
Several Malamulo nurses have been trained in Youth Service delivery and are prepared to donate their time and knowledge to staff the center 24 hours a day.  Their dedication to the project has truly been an inspiration to me.  

So far we have identified three rooms to use; I am in the process of acquiring materials to renovate, furnish and stock these rooms 
This is our beginning... still a long way to go!!
Tearing everything out and will create a small lecture/activity hall

Wanted to make this into a bathroom, but, alas, no funds

This will be our two medical exam rooms

Current setup.  Plans to change into the reception area

If anyone is interested in donating to this project please contact me at  Your assistance can make a real difference in the fight against HIV in Africa.

"be the change that you wish to see in the world"


My one-stop-shop
Blantyre City

Vegetable Market
Taking friends out to the market

The Neighborhood

Monday, June 4, 2012

Avocados from the Garden Of Eden

Weighing Matters

I recently got back from my mid-service training; yep, I’m now well passed the one-year mark and now only about 11 months left.  There were lots of changes in my group, some far more noticeable than others.  We spent lots of time discussing how our feelings and attitudes have changed towards Peace Corps, Malawi, Africa, and even Americans, some for the better, and some for the worst. 
However, what was most shocking was the physical changes so many of my fellow volunteers have undergone.  One girl in my group has lost over 115lbs and one of the guys has lost around 80!  In one year!! Crazy!  The newest volunteers who arrived just a few months ago had many questions concerning weight changes; The rule of thumb seems to be that girls tend to gain while pretty much all men drop significant pounds.  Why is this? As a woman, I get the weight gain; the diet here is extremely carbohydrate heavy, low protein, and produce is often limited to onions and tomatoes for most of the year with occasional spikes of seasonal fruits. 

I had the privilege of speaking with one of my favorite Malawians who was shocked to discover I wasn’t Japanese (a pretty common misunderstanding here).  When I asked how in the world he could have made that mistake he replied, “why, you are not a fatty like American.”  Thank you Nelson, for making my year. 

In my mind the weight fluctuations of Americans in Africa seem to suggest that the healthier you are in America, the more likely you are to gain; while those of us from the cheese-smothering-fat-dipping regions, like the South, tend to adjust well in the absence of oils and dairy. 

Another shock to the dietary system has been the complete removal of preservatives and artificial sweeteners from our diets.  Bread, and the occasional cookie, are the extent of inexpensive, locally manufactured goods.  Everything is fresh! Preservatives imply that you’ve gone to the extent of wrapping your food in a plastic bag, but if you want anything besides bread or produce, its going to have to be made completely from scratch.  

Exercise is also a totally foreign concept here.  Why would you go out for an evening jog when you’ve just made two trips from your house to the well carrying roughly 45lbs of water on your head?  I went to the beach the other weekend, and a group of us stared with jaws agape as a doughy white guy jogged through the sand.  Turns out, running really does look ridiculous. 

In my world there are usually 3 options on any menu and two of those three are “not around.”  A grocery store is a lady with a basket of bananas on her head, and scales are for weighing corn and cotton, not people.  I’m pretty sure my head may explode when I get back to America, but in the meantime I’ll enjoy my adventures into organic, free-range, preservative free, often vegetarian, no sugar or sodium added diet!