Published: August 30th 2009August 18th 2009
I barely got home from Camp GLOW before I had to come right back out of site for a "Strategic Planning" Conference in Blantyre. From Monday, August 17th through Friday August 21st we stayed at the Kabula Hill Lodge. I really loved the Lodge and all of the people running it. They were really sweet and very helpful. The Lodge is nice and well located in my opinion (not too far from the Peace Corps house either) and more affordable than the high-end hotels, but better than a hostel...Okay, so that was my small travel advice.
NOW, I gained plenty of experience during our week of "Strategic Planning". I think I had a general, broad idea about what a strategic plan was, but I had no idea how detailed something like that can be. We basically planned what our college wants to get accomplished over the next 5 years. It was grueling work. We invited people from CHAM (Christian Health Association of Malawi), MOH (the Ministry of Health), the Chikwawa Diocese, NCA (Norwegian Church Aid), as well as all the tutors, members from the hospital, the librarian and even two students to help us with our plan. In all I
believe it was a success and I hope that we are able to reach all our goals.
Every evening (except 1 in which I enjoyed the fact that Kabula had a television AND semi-functional wireless internet) I went out with friends in Blantyre. It was a lot of fun to get to catch up with people that I have not seen in months, and it was also great to get to stay at a place where I could actually get up-to-date news!
Unfortunately we left Saturday. I rode down the escarpment with the luggage in the bush ambulance and managed to pick up a fellow volunteer on the way back to site. He'd never been to my site and didn't realize how difficult the road to my site was. He had only planned to stay until Monday morning but due to transportation issues didn't actually leave until 6am Wednesday morning. We had fun, and Melanie came over often. Ross cooked dinner every night and we watched loads of gossip girl on my laptop. Melanie, Ross and I even went on what I refer to as "Elly's Walk" on Sunday afternoon (which may not have been the best idea
since it IS starting to get hotter already).
In addition to all this, because all of the students are currently in the clinical setting, Melanie and I also visited the under 5 and talked to the HSAs (Health Surveillance Assistants) about how we can assist them as VSO and Peace Corps Volunteers. Ross even talked to the Community Health nurse about getting oil presses to use as an IGA (Income Generating Activity).
When the tutors came back on Thursday things got busy. We held our graduation for the previous years' students on Friday. Therefore, Thursday was really busy. Many tutors didn't "knock-off" until late at night (something like 10 or 11pm) and arrived back to work Friday at 6am. We spent the day cleaning the guest house for our guests, distributing students gowns, stuffing the caps with old x-ray film so that they would stick out properly, and setting up the Cuppen Hall with chairs, streamers made out of pink and blue toilet paper, plants that we had just uprooted, and tons of balloons... Rehearsal for the students didn't even start until nearly 8pm the night before. Unfortunately for me I got violently sick sometime around 9pm and
While Ross was here I took Melanie and him on what I call Elly's walk. It was hot that day!
had to go home. I will not expand on my 24 hour bug.
Luckily the graduation was a success. I arrived at 730am in the nursery (our "dressing room"), only a little green, and helped with the gowns. After our guests arrived (including the Arch Bishop, Director of Finance and Administration at the MOH, the Nsanje Member of Parliament, the Nursing and Midwives Counsel and CHAM) and we got them dressed, the ceremony began. I was distressed to find that I would be actually sitting on stage...and since a few people didn't show up I ended up right behind the two guests of honor. I was even more distressed that I would have to dance down the aisle (instead of walking down the aisle), and of course everyone thought THAT was hysterical. At least I didn't fall, or get my head caught in the low hanging streamers. Don't forget, I am a giant.
During the ceremony many people spoke. We also had two groups do some traditional dancing for the graduates, and a few younger students sang. We even had a skit by the notorious "Abraham and 1/4 Pin" (even with my limited Chichewa it was still hilarious).
The graduation lasted until just after 1pm and everyone then was invited to eat. The gowns were stifling (hello I am in Africa, it's not always cold here) so Melanie and I got rid of our gowns and went to find grub. We (the college) got tons of compliments on the ceremony, which was great, and we went home patting ourselves on the back and only a little exhausted.
Today I managed to hitch a ride into town in order to restock on much needed supplies (TP, Candles, etc.) and I am not sure when I will be back in town. I hope everyone had a wonderful summer!
There are more photos below