Africa, again?

As many of you know, I am headed to Malawi in mid July to serve with the Peace Corps and SEED Global Health as a nurse educator. This is a one year commitment beginning in mid July.  I am one of 24 nurse and 24 physicians that will be the third cohort of practitioners deployed in Uganda, Malawi and Tanzania to teach in university nursing and medical schools to improve the level of education of local students.  I am thrilled to have been chosen to be part of this amazing experience!

If feels like this experience is part of my larger plan as everything has lined up for this experience. My house sold in December, mom’s house is under contract and closing 7/10, my kids are settled and enjoying their independent lives, and ZOZO will be with Johnny and Debbie (brother and sis-n-law) Mom is very happy at the Woodstock Terrace.

Even with all these very MAJOR pieces taken care of as I prepare to depart I am aware of how much I am trying to control and manipulate my circumstances there even before arrival! The questions I am asking the two nurses already there teaching are ridiculous and humorous as I think about the realities of going to Malawi, one of the most undeveloped countries in the world. Here’s an example of the things I am concerned about:

  • How am I going to get my grey hair roots taken care of? Are there salons that cater to expats that understand this?
  • Eyebrow waxing, OMG do I have to do this myself with the root hair treatment?
  • What about pedicures…
  • Can I get enough fruits and veggies without a diet based on cabbage?
  • How do I exercise in a country where women don’t even wear pants
  • How long do my skirts have to be?
  • Will I be able to eat enough lean protein and avoid the hi carb diet so prevalent in the third world?
  • Will I get enough cell and internet reception to communicate with my friends and family?
  • Are there screens on the windows, heat, refrigeration ? How about basic electricity and running water?
  • Toothpaste, toilet paper, body lotion?
  • What kind of shoes do I bring?

The list is endless and my mind is reeling at the thought of being so out of control of my normal “must haves.” As I tick off the questions, I am noticing how important it is to me to have things just so…..my special brand of this and that, my unique formula of hair color that took us 4 trips to the salon to perfect. Will my face be falling down when I return?

Though comical when I reflect on these questions, they lead to me to ask myself what it would be like to just completely let go and trust that all will be well when I get there and the solutions to any problems will be just fine. I had thought I had let go of much of my desire for perfection, but alas, I am reminded through this process of preparation for a year in Africa, that perhaps, I am worse than ever! Am I really that high maintenance (don’t say it Julie, Paul)

If it weren’t for technology, none of this would matter because I would probably be too lazy to write a hand written letter to the nurses currently in Mzuzu, and wait for the response, perhaps a month’s time frame. And, I wouldn’t have to worry about what I look like when I facetime or Skype you at home.

Our group convenes in Washington, DC July 13th for 10 days or so of training in the Peace Corps Office. Then we are off to our respective countries for more in country training and settling in our residences and setting up “home” prior to starting school that begins in early September.

I have so much gratitude for those of you who have so whole heartedly supported me in my desire to take on such an incredible opportunity for both service as well as expansion of my own horizons by living and working in another culture.

In the meantime, if you would like to subscribe to my blog, you can click on the link and follow the prompts. I will be posting on FB also, but if you subscribe you will automatically get the posting with an email.

I look forward to sharing the answers to my questions when I receive more information and keeping you up to date on the experience. As always, I look forward to hearing from you and your comments and questions are welcome and important to me!

Namaste,  Mindy

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13 thoughts on “Africa, again?

  1. Fantastic Mindy! What an adventure. You are brave, I know I couldn’t do it! Any chance I could see you while you are in DC? I am an hour and 20 minutes ish and would be happy to come in and go to lunch or something. Not sure if you have any extra time but you are welcome to come out to the country and see this neck of the woods too. My cell is 802-356-7911. Same old cell. Happy to talk before or while you are here. I am in town for July so if it works great!
    I look forward to following your blog. I need to be in touch with Kate too as we are headed to the Dominican in September for a business trip. Would love to see her if possible.
    So excited for you!
    Cindy

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  2. Well I did get a few words in because I did not know whether there was going to be any room down here, or whether there was a ” down here” anyway I hope you have a wonderful year . I know it will be wonderful And you will have so much to give to all the people you are going to be in touch with. They are very lucky. I will think of you always and hope that all goes well. If you have an address,just send it to me.you do not need to write anything to me,I will just send a few words to you. You will have enough to do.you can tell us all about it when you return. I hope it all goes well andi will miss you. I will think of you always and know those people you get to know will just love having you there. ENJOY, much love, Liz H.

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  3. I sent a reply! I hope you got my note to you. I hope yu have a wonderful year. I really will miss you. Much much love, as I have said I each note I try to get. Off….Liz H

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  4. Adventure is out there!
    Having been to Malawi many, many years ago, I still have some very distinct memories. The language: Chichewa
    Chichewa vowels are always pronounced the same way. If you know Spanish, you will easily be able to pronounce them, as they are the same.
    a = ah (taco)
    e = ay (grande)
    i = ee (tortilla)
    o = oh (nacho)
    u = oo (tortuga)

    hello — moni (mo’-nee)
    how are you ? — muli bwanji ? (pronounced: moolee bwahngee)
    I am fine — ndiri bwino (pronounced: ndeedee bwa’-no)
    Thank you — zikomo (pronounced: zee-ko’-mo)
    and Thank you very much —zikomo kwam bili (pronounced: zee-ko’-mo kwahm-bee’-lee)
    and always give a thank you while softly clapping your hands together twice.

    and in Chichewa, you say: Chimbudzi chili kuti – for “Where is the toilet?” (note: you need to say toilet, not bathroom)

    Remember that sometimes the toilet is just a hole in the ground (a latrine) and the walls are simply tall grass surrounding that hole. (this is when wearing a skirt is very handy indeed and you’ll be glad you are a woman who has to where a skirt… nuff said.)

    and ALWAYS have some extra TP (toilet paper) with you… because this is also the part of the world where the left hand is often used for very special duties, if you know what I mean, and NEVER, ever used for eating… which is often done without utensils.

    Malawi is what they call the “warm heart of Africa”. The people are “usually” very kind and hospitable and as a former English colony, which pervades all of the culture, they are very polite and proper… usually.

    And remember, nothing gets in the way of “tea time” which always includes some crumpets or crackers. If I remember correctly, it comes at 2:00pm or so.

    I can’t wait to hear of the ongoing adventure. Always remember your malaria pills and ONLY use filtered water… even for tea if possible. The so-called “African trots” are extremely powerful. Imodium might be nice to have with you just in case.
    And you have to watch the movie, “The God’s Must be Crazy” if you haven’t seen it before you go. Sooo funny.
    Be sure to attend church services there… especially in the bush. It is so much fun!
    We will be praying for you. I still love Malawi and you will too. I would go back in a heartbeat if I could.
    Christie

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  5. Love your writing!

    Mindy, I know it’s been awhile but you and your sisters were born with beauty, even in age you all shine. But the beauty that you are to bark upon shows how beautiful your spirit is. This trip is the “High Maintenance” for your spirit and I look forward to what will be revealed. I am excited to have a view of your heart and to see what our family heritage has given you. The living conditions could be difficult and I get those questions but remember you have chosen your spirit for this trip and there is nothing more beautiful than giving your spirit time to expand and grow. In my minds eye you could not get any more beautiful than what you are expressing here.

    BTW if I were you I’d bring sneakers and flip flops and the best bottle of bourbon you can find.

    Peace, Cousin Steve

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  6. It will all be waiting for you when you get back. Have a great time teaching a new generation of nurses.

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  7. Mindy, I loved following you on your last trip so look forward to this new adventure. Many years ago, a boyfriend in college served in the Peace Corps in Africa- and loved it. But, at this age, I can so relate to all the things we rely on – without fully realizing that we do. ( lipstick) You’re a natural beauty- so don’t fret it. If you need a box- just let me know. Believe it or not I am headed up to Freeport Sat and will spend a night with Sue H on her boat. We have not connected in years – so am looking forward to it and have you to thank. What a rewarding and liberating thing to do- you are an inspiration esp for those of us that can “talk” change..but haven’t done a thing about it….. Wishing you the best. xxx jane

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  8. You are an inspiration. Here’s to adventure and meaning as we enter into new chapters in our lives. i will hang on every word!

    Love,
    Robin

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