Photo Set
Photo

oldinglish:

wrist wrist wrist wrist wrist wrist

Source: oldinglish
Video
Photo Set

collegehumor:

Welcome to the gang whether you like it or not.

Finish reading —> The 9 People On Every Freshman Hall

Source: College Humor
Photo

dorkly:

schnibbledibble:

me back when I had my priorities sorted out

15 Gamers Who Absolutely Have Their Priorities In Order

To see more gamers who’ve got it figured out, click here!

(via collegehumor)

Source: schnibbledibble
Photo Set

naomiislilongwefromhome:

It has been nearly two months since my return flight from little Malawi, Africa. Did I really just type that? My experience in Malawi was the most vivid dream I have ever had…

I realize I kind of dropped off the face of the earth after my last blog post. Funny thing is, I was actually in the midst of returning to the real world, my real world, a world too many people take for granted.

I first want to have a conclusion to my work as an intern for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. It always sounds so pretentious to say when anyone (everyone) asks how my summer was and what I did, but if I just said “FAO,” I am not sure the stares would be any less wide-eyed. I never heard of FAO before I signed up for this opportunity of a lifetime, so why would you? Anyways –

After the completion of my final report—a collection and analysis of the data from the field which was concerning the impacts of irrigation, if you’ve forgotten by now— I made a masterpiece. Using simplified information (as simplified as you can make over 30 pages) and my creativity, I put together a PowerPoint presentation. It was actually rather fun since I was able to make it pretty and use the pictures I took myself throughout my stay.

I was really nervous about presenting. First, I would give the presentation in the Kasungu office where I was stationed, then again in the FAO Malawi headquarters in the capital, Lilongwe. Being in front of people has never been much of a problem for me; theater since fourth grade helped with my confidence and presentation skills. What I was really anxious about was sharing my ideas for solutions to challenges FAO and the irrigating farmers were facing. This meant pointing out flaws in the system and giving advice on how to fix it. This meant I, a nineteen-year-old student fresh out of freshman year, had to tell officials in a governmental organization what was wrong and what I thought could make it right.

Turns out, standing in front of people would never have been an issue anyways; I sat among the viewers of my presentation in a very casual setting, in both locations. And, turns out, FAO Malawi told me, me!, that I had very valid points and they would work to implement my ideas, my ideas that would affect the very core of the FAO project, affect irrigation practices, affect Malawian farmers, affect Malawian families, affect a whole nation.

A billion people can tell me how proud they are of me. Or, a billion people could never say a word. What matters is how I feel about myself, and I could not be prouder of myself.

Never in a million years did I think I would be going to Africa.. or a third-world country.. and definitely not as a nineteen-year-old freshman who has never stepped foot outside the United States of America in her entire life. Malawians would ask me where else I have travelled to, and I was able to reply, “You’re my first stop!” They were so amazed. Even the native people praised me with how brave I must be and how honored they were that I chose their country.

In all honesty, it never really occurred to me where I was going was so impoverished. I knew it was going to be different, and I knew it was going to be a challenge. However, I also knew is that I would come out stronger in every aspect of my life. Just how different I would be I never imagined.

My confidence has soared through the roof. I did it. I made it. I made a difference. I feel more confident in meeting new people, being able to converse intelligently, and most importantly, more confident that what I set my mind to, I can accomplish. If my most naïve and uneducated self can make it out the other side of somewhere so challenging like Malawi, my future, bettered self can make it anywhere.

So many people have shared with me how jealous they are of my trip to Africa. Many people have asked if I travelled the whole country, and many people have asked what animals I saw. If this is what you aspire to do in your future, you need to know some key elements of my “trip.”

This was not a vacation. This was not even a study abroad. This was an internship. I had objectives to fulfill, and it was my job to fulfill them. My work was my priority Monday through Friday.

My only transportation was FAO vehicles, which were not allowed to be used outside office hours, so weekend trips were not easy. I had one excursion to Lake Malawi with the German women I stayed with, and I was able to climb a nearby mountain, but to go on safari and see any big game I would have had to leave the country (nearby Malawian animals have been illegally poached or killed by farmers defending their crops) and arrange my own transport. I had no days off during the week.

I was very fortunate to stay with the couple German students in the house they were renting for the duration of my internship. In one week, they will be on their flight back to Germany, so I cannot promise future FAO interns would be so fortunate.

What I did not talk about much was what it was like living in this house. I had the comfort of a roof over my head, a bed, a mosquito net, and most of my meals prepared for me. I am so thankful for that. I even had a flushing toilet – most of the time. For periods as long as four days, the government would shut off the water supply. Toilets could no longer flush, there would be no running water to filter and drink, and there would be no water to fill up a bucket for a lukewarm “shower.” There was no air conditioner, which actually would have been useless since I was spending my summer in the Malawian winter (still, fifty degrees is not all that bad). Sometimes the power would go out, and my phone, my one connection to the world outside that little house, would die. Thank goodness for wi-fi to keep my international phone plan as least costly as possible, but my goodness was it slow. It was the one of the most frustrating things when my mom or sister would tag me on a two-minute Facebook video and it took a half-hour to load. As silly as that sounds, little things like that can make or break your day.

It was a seven-hour time difference between Malawi and ole Mississippi. That means when you are enjoying your mom’s mac-n-cheese for lunch, I am just finishing eating the dinner I helped make without the convenience of a microwave. If there is no movie in English to watch that night, I would normally get ready for bed.

Living with English-speaking Germans was definitely cool. I picked up a few new vocabulary words, as did they, and there was just so much to learn from each other. We grew up in totally different worlds, both undeniably different from this other world we now shared. Despite this, most of the conversations they had were in German. I often felt left out and lonely. Sometimes I was even paranoid they were talking about me, but I had to learn to tune that out. In this foreign place with foreign people, I was going to be myself and not worry about what anyone thought of me.

In the field, I would sometimes have to skip lunch because there was nowhere to have lunch. I would have to take a bathroom break in a smelly hole in the ground and sometimes even without a hole, just the cover of some weedy brush. Breasts were a daily sight, because breastfeeding is all there is in Malawi. No one takes a second glance at it, and now, neither do I.

Are you still jealous? Well… You should be. Here’s why.

(And now I attempt to not come off as an egotistical braggart…)

I, a nineteen-year-old female student at Mississippi State University, have never felt so embraced by people and the world in my life. This opportunity with FAO, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, was a fifty-in-one package deal. I was going to phrase that as two-in-one, because it was a professional experience for my major in Environmental Economics and Management as well as a cultural experience for my minor in International Studies, but that would have been a severe understatement.

Acquaintances came out of the woodwork of my life to offer support and let me know that I could talk to them when I felt alone. The very fact my parents allowed their teenage daughter to fly off on her own to a third-world country is testimony enough of their undying support for me and my endeavors in life. Unexpectedly, I met the warmest people I have ever known in tiny Malawi. A widowed woman who only knew what my name was before I arrived had accepted me into not just her home, but also her family. Even with so much distance between us, whether it was an ocean or a culture, I have never experienced so much love.

Working with the FAO was, at first, an extremely daunting task. I was on my own, with only one year of education under my belt and not a stitch of it was about irrigation practices. This internship revealed to me that with the right mindset and some guidance from people who care, I could accomplish anything. You want me to drive two hours to a village in the bush and ask people that cannot speak English questions about food insecurity and irrigation? You got it. Done. The skills I earned—confidence, communication, patience, questionnaire-making, data collecting, data analysis, just to name a few—will stick with me for the rest of my college days, my career, and my life. Not many people can say they learned those skills in Africa either, which is not too shabby if I may say so myself.

I have been told I am a down-to-earth person. Never have I really known why people compliment me with this or ever felt I could agree with them. I can honestly say now that with this experience, I feel much more in-tune with the world. I feel worldly, though I have only been to two miniscule parts of it. I used to take pride in my adaptation to the culture of the Deep South when I moved from Northwest Ohio in high school, and I laugh at that fact now. I know what a change in culture really means, and it takes root in every nook of life, from traditional clothes, to the acceptability of behavior like breastfeeding, to the unacceptability of homosexuality, to pride in a mere three acres of corn. I took on the minor in International Studies to “gain a more global perspective on the issues of the world” (I am quoting myself, I hope that is acceptable) and I cannot believe I have already accomplished that. There is still much to see and much to learn and experience, but I can now say I have seen firsthand what the “world hunger crisis” looks like, what “poverty” really means, what drought and famine can amount to. I hope I am all the wiser for it, but I now feel a new burden weighing on my shoulders. Every time I find myself feeling upset, I can’t help but compare my small struggle to the enormous, daily struggles of billions of people. Everything feels smaller and bigger all at once.

Every time someone asks me, “So how was Africa?” I always reply, “It was a big adventure!” I cannot lie – sometimes I felt like giving up. Sometimes I was lonely and wondered, why on earth did I do this to myself? But sometimes, I was in the middle of a crowd of smiling strangers with not much to smile about, and sometimes I looked out the window and saw the Milky Way in the night sky. Each mosquito bite without getting malaria was a tiny victory, and each person that shook my hand and thanked me for nothing yet tangible I had done was a tiny blessing.

Someone said to me, “I bet you cried so much when you had to go home.” I teared up a bit, but not because I was sad to be leaving. Honestly, after three months away from home, where my sister had graduated high school without me to cheer her on, where my sister turned eighteen without me to sing her happy birthday, where my parents placed an offer on a house I had never visited, it was time to return. I was ready, and I know I gave Malawi all I could in that time.

I arrived at the Atlanta airport when I finally stepped back onto American soil. The first thing I did was use an American toilet, buy myself some fresh mixed fruit and an iced macchiato from Starbucks, and turn on Pandora that “is not available in your country.” The very first song that played was “Home” by American Authors. I cried then.

I also cried when my dad embraced me in the dining room of our home after releasing the handle of that monstrous suitcase one last time. That was nothing; I bawled when my mom handed me “A real tissueeee!” I cried silently when I woke up in the middle of the night in my familiar bed simply because the temperature of the room was so perfect.

Many people ask me if I plan on going back. My honest response is that I have no clue. The fact that I only found out I was even going to Malawi two weeks before my flight is explanation enough. Though I care tremendously about solving the food security issue and improving irrigation techniques in Malawi, there is the rest of the world to consider. I would also like to focus more on environmental affairs in the future, but – it is the future. No one really knows what that may hold for anyone.

I do know, however, that my decision to do this was the right direction to push into. The connections I have made, the people I have met and impacted… This summer has changed every summer. It has changed every moment of the rest of my life. One question no one has asked is if I regretted it (I guess everyone is an optimist that way). My answer to this is the most direct of all my answers, and it is most definitely:  no, not in the slightest.

 

P.S. I would like to thank my friends, my family, and my peers for their support. I could not have made it through this so successfully without everyone. I would like to thank Dr. Randy Little of the Ag Econ Dept for encouraging me to go for the gold and being my advisor along the way. Most of all, I would like to thank Mississippi State University and the Office of Study Abroad for their connections through FAO to be able to provide myself and other students with such a wonderful opportunity. I am so honored to have been chosen to represent this amazing establishment. There is nowhere else I would rather be.

Source: naomiislilongwefromhome
Photo Set

collegehumor:

Be VERY careful what you wish for!

Written with Creighton “Wishmaster” DeSimone and

Illustrated by Caldwell Tanner —> Star of YouTube’s Drawfee Show

Source: College Humor
Photo
Photo Set
Photo Set

naomiislilongwefromhome:

First, TGIF. Next, by next week we should have our washing machine fixed! Wooo. Also, possibly calling for a bigger “woo,” I finished my rough draft of my final report!! Well, kinda. I am still waiting on information regarding populations of the irrigation clubs in Kasungu from Soka. And I still have to visit non-irrigation sites for comparison data. HOWEVER. I am thrilled to be that much closer to helping FAO and Malawi with this research. Finally…

The next day, it was rather chilly when we headed out. The sun was acting rather sketchy, and we were climbing higher and higher on the hills. The view was so so beautiful. Lucky for me, it was a breathtaking sight to behold; unlucky for you, capturing decent pictures through a scummy car window while bumping along is difficult. You will have to take my word on it. In fact – none of these pictures do justice to anything I’ve seen, really. Blame me for using my iPhone camera or my lack of photography skills, they do really turn out so dull. Maybe because the motion and vibrancy of the life I am seeing is missing, who knows?

It was recess time at the primary school we drove past up on the wooded hill. All the children were waving and jumping and shouting at the rare car, and when they spotted the mzungu, either they doubled their efforts or went still in shock. To my surprise, we stopped at a fork in the road just a dot past the school. They told me this is where the government extension officer said he would meet us. Then, a huge surge of children came running by to stand in front of the car. A phone call told us to come park at the school, so we began to drive in reverse. Hilariously, the children started running after the car! Everyone was laughing, it was really great.

We parked next to one of the several brick school buildings and climbed out. In a forested area near the field with wooden goal posts at each end, there were a few benches. Here we met with the government extension workers and sat to wait for the farmers to arrive.

A ginormous crowd of children stood quite a distance away, all pointing and laughing, pushing each other towards where we were sitting for what I assume were dares. I couldn’t resist. “May I go see the children, is that alright?” I asked.

“Yes, of course, of course! You want pictures!” Mr. Mtika laughed.

Eagerly, I approached the hoard of children. I could not help but think how awkward I felt; I was a stranger who can’t fully communicate with a whole bunch of strangers. However, I pushed this feeling aside, because this trip has been nothing if not venturing outside my comfort zone, anyways.

I did not know how to react when as I came closer, all the children started to run away, so I just laughed nervously and shouted to the onlookers, “They’re all scared of me!” and then added to the scrambling children, “Wait, wait! Come back!” Unsure what else to do, I pulled my iPhone out of my pocket and held it up for a picture.

That’s when the magic happened. Every single child stopped running in the other direction, and they all smushed together and waddled towards me at the chance of having their picture taken. It was amazing. I asked, “Are you ready? Smile!” and snapped the shot. The children were all so diverse; tiny or tall, bony or round, in a too-big dress or a jacket with a broken zipper. There was even an albino child, with light skin and matching hair, but they were accepting of him, unlike me, the strange mzungu.

It was all so inspiring that these children gathered together on this hill to go to school and learn for a chance at a better life. Even when their families need all the help they can get on the farm so they can have food on their plates and a bit of change in their pockets, their parents still know what a good education is worth. Before irrigation, however, this was not always the case. Children would stay home when they were sickly, or if they were malnourished. Now, with more food and income for buying household items and paying hospital bills, the parents have stronger children that can attend school. When they get older, they will also be able to afford school fees. It is amazing how some water on a field can change lives so dramatically.

Mr. Mtika asked to take my picture with them, and of course, I was happy to let him do so. There are so many fantastic photos of these children, I am going to do a separate post so you can see some more.

After the interview, I was sad to leave a place so full of giggles and curiosity, but we had one last village to interview. Don’t want to keep them waiting!

We headed off to collect a new government extension officer. His office pictured is like all of the other offices I have been in – walls plastered with posters and information likely outdated, documents scattered around in piles of “in,” “out,” and “pending,” and a visitor’s book that I have to sign and state my purpose of visit, my address and phone number (I usually just leave these spots blank), and my official ranking. I once left the “comments” section blank, because what was there to say, “This chair needs refurnished,” or “I like the posters”? I was quickly chased down to write one, I mean I was literally climbing back into the truck to go, and it was so dumb I don’t even recall what I ended up putting. Probably, “Nice work!” or something else utterly vague.

The final location was one of my favorites, in terms of irrigation-visuals. What a nerd thing to say. Anyways, we had to trek down a humongous hill to reach the fields. They were gorgeously green and laced with canals of water. Slabs of stone or a bunch of limbs made little bridges over the man-made streams, but my trust doesn’t reach too far; after almost tipping over the stone, I just started to do the good, ol’ run-and-jump.

This group was fantastic. They told me about how, of their own volition, they created a fishpond. Inspired by this source of income for one of the neighboring farms, they dug a perfectly rectangular pool at the base of one of the hills and now raise fish to eat and sell. No organization told them to do this or helped them do it. I love this kind of self-interest and self-motivation. Anyone can do anything if you set your mind to it is definitely true.

Back up the hillside just a ways, and we plopped down in the grass under the shade of a tree for an interview. I thought it was so sweet when they recalled my earlier asking to sit in the sun for a different interview, and they asked me if I would like to sit further out of the shade. Yes, I would love that. Then someone said something about fire ants, and at seeing my panicked face, added, “There is none right now, but you’ll know to move when you see them!” Oh, okay.

No fire ants here, no worries.

Source: naomiislilongwefromhome
Photo Set

naomiislilongwefromhome:

First, TGIF. Next, by next week we should have our washing machine fixed! Wooo. Also, possibly calling for a bigger “woo,” I finished my rough draft of my final report!! Well, kinda. I am still waiting on information regarding populations of the irrigation clubs in Kasungu from Soka. And I still have to visit non-irrigation sites for comparison data. HOWEVER. I am thrilled to be that much closer to helping FAO and Malawi with this research. Finally…

The next day, it was rather chilly when we headed out. The sun was acting rather sketchy, and we were climbing higher and higher on the hills. The view was so so beautiful. Lucky for me, it was a breathtaking sight to behold; unlucky for you, capturing decent pictures through a scummy car window while bumping along is difficult. You will have to take my word on it. In fact – none of these pictures do justice to anything I’ve seen, really. Blame me for using my iPhone camera or my lack of photography skills, they do really turn out so dull. Maybe because the motion and vibrancy of the life I am seeing is missing, who knows?

It was recess time at the primary school we drove past up on the wooded hill. All the children were waving and jumping and shouting at the rare car, and when they spotted the mzungu, either they doubled their efforts or went still in shock. To my surprise, we stopped at a fork in the road just a dot past the school. They told me this is where the government extension officer said he would meet us. Then, a huge surge of children came running by to stand in front of the car. A phone call told us to come park at the school, so we began to drive in reverse. Hilariously, the children started running after the car! Everyone was laughing, it was really great.

We parked next to one of the several brick school buildings and climbed out. In a forested area near the field with wooden goal posts at each end, there were a few benches. Here we met with the government extension workers and sat to wait for the farmers to arrive.

A ginormous crowd of children stood quite a distance away, all pointing and laughing, pushing each other towards where we were sitting for what I assume were dares. I couldn’t resist. “May I go see the children, is that alright?” I asked.

“Yes, of course, of course! You want pictures!” Mr. Mtika laughed.

Eagerly, I approached the hoard of children. I could not help but think how awkward I felt; I was a stranger who can’t fully communicate with a whole bunch of strangers. However, I pushed this feeling aside, because this trip has been nothing if not venturing outside my comfort zone, anyways.

I did not know how to react when as I came closer, all the children started to run away, so I just laughed nervously and shouted to the onlookers, “They’re all scared of me!” and then added to the scrambling children, “Wait, wait! Come back!” Unsure what else to do, I pulled my iPhone out of my pocket and held it up for a picture.

That’s when the magic happened. Every single child stopped running in the other direction, and they all smushed together and waddled towards me at the chance of having their picture taken. It was amazing. I asked, “Are you ready? Smile!” and snapped the shot. The children were all so diverse; tiny or tall, bony or round, in a too-big dress or a jacket with a broken zipper. There was even an albino child, with light skin and matching hair, but they were accepting of him, unlike me, the strange mzungu.

It was all so inspiring that these children gathered together on this hill to go to school and learn for a chance at a better life. Even when their families need all the help they can get on the farm so they can have food on their plates and a bit of change in their pockets, their parents still know what a good education is worth. Before irrigation, however, this was not always the case. Children would stay home when they were sickly, or if they were malnourished. Now, with more food and income for buying household items and paying hospital bills, the parents have stronger children that can attend school. When they get older, they will also be able to afford school fees. It is amazing how some water on a field can change lives so dramatically.

Mr. Mtika asked to take my picture with them, and of course, I was happy to let him do so. There are so many fantastic photos of these children, I am going to do a separate post so you can see some more.

After the interview, I was sad to leave a place so full of giggles and curiosity, but we had one last village to interview. Don’t want to keep them waiting!

We headed off to collect a new government extension officer. His office pictured is like all of the other offices I have been in – walls plastered with posters and information likely outdated, documents scattered around in piles of “in,” “out,” and “pending,” and a visitor’s book that I have to sign and state my purpose of visit, my address and phone number (I usually just leave these spots blank), and my official ranking. I once left the “comments” section blank, because what was there to say, “This chair needs refurnished,” or “I like the posters”? I was quickly chased down to write one, I mean I was literally climbing back into the truck to go, and it was so dumb I don’t even recall what I ended up putting. Probably, “Nice work!” or something else utterly vague.

The final location was one of my favorites, in terms of irrigation-visuals. What a nerd thing to say. Anyways, we had to trek down a humongous hill to reach the fields. They were gorgeously green and laced with canals of water. Slabs of stone or a bunch of limbs made little bridges over the man-made streams, but my trust doesn’t reach too far; after almost tipping over the stone, I just started to do the good, ol’ run-and-jump.

This group was fantastic. They told me about how, of their own volition, they created a fishpond. Inspired by this source of income for one of the neighboring farms, they dug a perfectly rectangular pool at the base of one of the hills and now raise fish to eat and sell. No organization told them to do this or helped them do it. I love this kind of self-interest and self-motivation. Anyone can do anything if you set your mind to it is definitely true.

Back up the hillside just a ways, and we plopped down in the grass under the shade of a tree for an interview. I thought it was so sweet when they recalled my earlier asking to sit in the sun for a different interview, and they asked me if I would like to sit further out of the shade. Yes, I would love that. Then someone said something about fire ants, and at seeing my panicked face, added, “There is none right now, but you’ll know to move when you see them!” Oh, okay.

No fire ants here, no worries.

Source: naomiislilongwefromhome
Photo Set

naomiislilongwefromhome:

Y’all, meet the Tchongwe family.

Mr. Kumwenda reassuringly told me, “I will accompany you to Mzimba, that way we can both meet with Mr. Mtika, and I can tell him what you are doing there and make sure you have accommodations.” Excellent, I sure love last-minute planning.

Luckily, Jenni thought to ask Judith where she has stayed in Mzimba before, in hopes I could find my own accommodations if need be. “Oh no, I’ve never stayed in Mzimba. I do have a friend that lives there, though. She has just built a new house, too. I have not spoken to her in some time, but if you still need a place to stay, call me and I will ask her if she would keep you.”

Well, that sounded great to me. In the FAO vehicle on the way to Mzimba, I mentioned to Mr. Kumwenda about Judith’s friend. “Yes, that would be very good! Call her when we reach Mzimba. The guesthouses there are not very nice, you would not be comfortable.” Alrighty!

And so, Mrs. Tchongwe, Judith’s friend, accepted that I stay at her home. I was to give her a call later, because right now she was in church. Mind you, it was also a Tuesday afternoon, but maybe day of the week does not matter in Malawi. After having a meal at the restaurant adjacent to the motel I may have stayed at, with one bathroom for the entire place that had no lighting and the door didn’t shut properly, we called.

I was intrigued by her name, Tchongwe; perhaps she was Asian? I only imagined Judith’s friend as another international, but I was mistaken. When we entered through the red metal gate, a dark-skinned woman in a chitenje greeted us. I took a deep breath and prepared to be submersed in a true Malawian experience. “You ah most welcome, Nah-oh-me!”

Her home is so new, it is not yet completed. Some of the floor was still gritty concrete, and not all the bedrooms were usable. Then, to my dismay, Mrs. Tchongwe told me they have yet to get a water tank, so there was no running water. That meant using the bathroom outside, not just once, but every day while I was here.

“Do I need to bring out toilet paper with me? I brought some.”

“Ah, yes! We only have a little bit left.”

My most memorable experience was going out to use the hole that first night. Mrs. Tchongwe kept insisting I bring a “torch,” or flashlight, but I showed her how my phone has one. She was amazed. Mrs. Tchongwe also offered that every time I needed to go, just ask for her, even in the middle of the night I am to knock on her door, and she will accompany me. After the first time, I think she realized that this was unnecessary. I must not look very brave. Anyways, I crossed the entire yard and entered the restroom. It was a very small, brick structure with a cutout for a doorway and no roof. I was glad it was not raining, but I did take note of the gorgeous stars overhead. I shined my light around to locate the hole and bit back a shriek when I saw at least three giant cockroaches. To my utter horror, one scurried into the hole I was about to have to crouch over. Thankfully, I survived.

Mrs. Tchongwe was simply astonished when I told her I only needed one bucket shower a day, not two. However, she always prepared me a hot bucket of water each day I came back from the bush. I did not have the heart to tell her that I preferred to bathe in the mornings; eventually I learned it was quite necessary to have one at night, because I always came back so very dirty! To pour the water over myself, she provided me with an empty peanut butter container. It must have been freshly a dead soldier, because it still smelled of its old contents.

Shortly after my arrival, Mrs. Tchongwe spoke to me in her bedroom. It was actually quite large, with a big bed, but the rest of the room was stacks of dusty cardboard boxes. “Nah-oh-me,” she said, putting a hand over her heart and one on my shoulder, “while you stay here, this is your home. Your home is here. You ah most welcome, most welcome. I want you to feel at home. When you need me, just come and you will find me. I am your mother, Mrs. Tchongwe.”

I did not know if I was making a joke or being serious, but she thought I was most serious when I asked, “May I call you Mom?”

“Yes, yes! Wait, how old are you?”

“Nineteen.”

“Yes, call me Mom! I am your mom, Nah-oh-me.” My heart melted.

We sat on these big, bulky couches and chairs that sunk when you sat on them in front of a tiny television with a giant set of speakers. Mrs. Tchongwe was very fond of having tea. We had it with breakfast and before dinner every day. It was black Malawian tea, which she poured steaming hot, full cream milk into and about a bucket of sugar. This was served with slices of white bread and the only brand of butter Malawi sells, Blue Band, I think. I was severely corrected when I tried to eat just some butter on a slice of bread. “No, no, like this!” And she took my bread and smashed a second slice on top. Oh yay, a healthy butter sandwich. I have been doing it wrong my whole life.

Mrs. Tchongwe’s husband died in a car accident not too long ago. He was working with the agriculture department here, so they had been living in a government house. However, it was not very nice so he began to build the house they were staying in now shortly before he passed. They were very fortunate he did this, because they would not have been allowed to remain in the government house without having a government worker in the family. Now, she had little means of income and had four children attending school with huge fees. That was when Judith gave her a job helping with surveys. She was so grateful to Judith, you could feel it every time she spoke about her.

“I was so lonely in this big house. But then yesterday, one of my sons came home to visit me. And now, you are here! It went from one to three, and I am so happy.” I was happy to be there, too.

The first night of being there was tough, I won’t lie. I called my mom, really upset. The culture shock I was feeling was huge. The fact that I was only staying there from Tuesday to Friday or Saturday did not matter, I was so overwhelmed. With the help of my parents, support from my best friend (who also kindly provided me with music to download since I had no wifi for radios, and I will be forever grateful), and the kindness of Mrs. Tchongwe, the shock evaporated after a while.

Every day for almost a whole week, all my meals were traditional Malawian foods (which reminds me, still have to do that food post!). That means every day, I had nsima, the gooey maize globs, at least once, intermixed with rice, greens, cabbage, and hunks of bone with a bit of meat in some red brothy-stew stuff. I am so hungry, I often forget to take pictures of my meal until I am almost done, but what you can see here is nsima, greens, and tiny fish with TONS of tiny bones. I tried not to gag as I ate it, I really did not want to be disrespectful. When they were done, there was just a speck of bones left on their plate. I am convinced they ate some of the bones, because half my plate was covered in them. Despite this one scary meal, I am just thankful not to have been fed the pigeon meat fluttering around behind the house Mrs. Tchongwe assures me is quite divine.

The day after I came, her oldest son arrived for a visit. Now it was four of us. Mrs. Tchongwe’s two daughters were still at school. She spoke to her youngest about me, and I was told she really would have loved to meet me and wished she could have come home. One night, Mrs. Tchongwe showed me pictures of her family, and even her trip to America with a missionary group. I think if I remember right, she went to Minnesota. There she had some church meetings, but she also toured an American farm (“They are so big!”), some kind of factory, and a university that she cannot recall the name of, where she met their international club.

Her sons absolutely love soccer. They stayed up most the night of the World Cup opening games so as not to miss a minute. I could hear their excitement from my bedroom, which, by the way, I almost had to share with Mrs. Tchongwe but she ended up having her son move and gave me his room. It had one bed for my 50-pound suitcase and one bed for me to sleep in, plus an adjacent bathroom with a non-functioning toilet that liked to tease me.

One night, when all I wanted to do was go to bed, Mrs. Tchongwe sat me down and put in the video of her church choir group. This featured several “music videos,” and each video had a lead singer. For the first song, the lead singer was in a colorful dress, kneeling in the middle of a road and singing. Eventually, she was rolling around in the road and shaking her hands at the sky. I loved to pick out Mrs. Tchongwe in the groups of ladies wearing matching dresses and hats, all dancing festively to an upbeat song for the love of Jesus, but after half an hour I was really done.

My plan all week was to try to go back to Kasungu Friday afternoon if we finished with the surveys early enough. We did, and Mr. Mtika offered for me to go home. However, I chose to stay until Saturday morning; I figured Mrs. Tchongwe would like that.

I am really glad I stayed. During the weird commercials that play during the World Cup, Mrs. Tchongwe silenced the television and pulled out her Bible. She then read me part of the story of Joseph. His father gave him a colorful robe, so his brothers were jealous that he loved Joseph more than them. Joseph began having dreams that God was showing his brothers bowing down to him, and he told his brothers this. They hated him even more. One day while out with the sheep, they made a plan to kill Joseph. Their brother was looking for them everywhere, and he wandered very far and spoke to many strangers to find his brothers. When he finally found them, the brothers were going to throw Joseph into a pit to die. However, they ended up selling him to a group of people. Mrs. Tchongwe ended here and added that later, Joseph became a ruler in the land and the brothers had to bow down to him. She told me that my story reminded her of Joseph’s. I am the Joseph of my family. Despite the hardship of coming to this foreign country, and even after the other intern that came with me went back home, I was brave and stayed to make a better future. It has been so long since she gave me this speech, and I cannot possibly recount it as well as she did, but it nearly moved me to tears.

This sweet lady would not even accept the money I offered her for allowing me to stay with her, because she is my family and this is my home. She said when I come back to Mzimba (which is in about a week, now), I am to just give her a call and come straight there. I intend to send her money through Judith; she definitely needs it more than I do, family or not.

P.S. I sent her the family photos through her son’s email (one refused to smile and they all kept blinking, so this was their favorite one out of about ten), but I have not heard back. I hope she received them.

Source: naomiislilongwefromhome
Photo
Photo

staystunning:

HAHAH bouta roll diz blunt

Source: staystunning
Photo Set

trboswg:

JackFrost #Calyxporn.

Source: trboswg