Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Waiting has Ended

On Saturday the 9th I finally received my invitation to serve in the Peace Corps. I am set to leave for Malawi on February 25 as a volunteer in the Environment program. For the past four days and nights I have had me eyes glued to the computer, trying to unearth anything and everything possible about Malawi. Most valuable have been the blogs of current volunteers as I am able to gauge what life will really be like 6000 miles away from home in a rather foreign place. There are three programs in Malawi and it has been very interesting to pit the experiences of different volunteers against one another. Needles to say the information influx has made the process of planning/thinking quite daunting.

These past few days have been overwhelming and I would imagine that I will be considerably overwhelmed from now until April, 2009 when I am set to return. Even then, I imagine that my world will be picked up, twirrled around and slammed back down again as I return to life in the US.

Anyway, I hope to keep this blog running for as long as possible. I am under the impression that I will have extermely sparse internet access. Suffice to say that this will be updated rather irregularly. For now I will post information as it comes to me and I will post my thoughts as they pop in and out of my head.

Here is what I know so far:
- I will be working with members of a community in implementing a plan for sustainable natural resource management. A volunteer's blog of the same program in 2001-2003, worked with subsistence farmers to implement a more organic farming process. She held workshops and trained locals with techniques that have been lost or simply unintroduced. Se also maintained a garden (WOO HOO) which served as an example to the rest of the villagers. As the community caught on the soil became much more fertile and productive effectively raising the expectations for healthy living and economic gains tremendously.

- I will most likely be living in a small mud-walled hut with either a tin or thatched roof in a very rural village. No running water or electricty for me.

- Judging by many of the bloggers, I will long for letters and packages from back home. My address until further notice is (copy exactly):
Kevin Malone, PCT
Peace Corps, Malawi
P.O. Box 208
Apparently some brilliant postal workers are unfamiliar with Malawi's location and consequently send letters/packages to South America or perhaps Maui?

Also, write "Air Mail" and "Par Avion" on the envelopes/boxes.

-I am told to expect up to 5 weeks for letters to arrive and possibly 4-6 months for packages. I sent a package to my girlfriend, Briana in Namibia and the USPS man told me it would only take 7 days. Apparently DHL has faster service. I will share more information as I receive it.

-I will be learning an indigenous language - most likely Chichewa. Upon a brief inspection of the language I have found a number of cognates with isiZulu.
For example:
Water in Zulu is "Amansi"; in Chichewa water is "Madzi"
Foreigner/White person in Zulu is "Umlungu"; in Chichewa it is "mzungu"
to arrive in Zulu is "fika"; in Chichewa it is "fika" (wow)
Large in Zulu is "kuluphele"; in Chichewa it is "kula"
Sadly, there are no clicks in Chichewa, perhas that is for the better. I should have a fun time trying to sort my way through noun classes and all the other fun stuff associated with Zulu

There is a whole lot more, but this will do as a first post. Questions???? - Ask now!
Peace and Love,