CrystalFromIowa

CrystalFromIowa

CrystalFromIowa

Enjoys traveling and learning about other cultures



Africa » Malawi June 30th 2016

Wanting to be respectful of the village as its mourned the death of one of its members and knowing that we would unlikely return to build on Friday as anticipated, we worked hard to finish everything we could on the two houses. We completed most of the walls, though the builders completed the very top when it became more complicated. Since the top of the walls tended to be peaked, the strings that served as our levels needed to be moved more frequently. As a result we had extra downtime. We used part of that downtime to ask the Habitat staff and village leaders questions. One thing we learned is that for people's birthday, they sing "Happy Birthday" in English. They do not have any native song or tradition beyond using our simple ones. This topic ... read more
Hannah and Emily
Bartholomew, Ken and Chifundo

Africa » Malawi June 30th 2016

When we arrived on site we did not see the group of women who greeted us each morning with song. We quickly learned that an older woman from the village died during the night, a relative of one of the families whose home we built. Normally following a death, the entire village spends the time in mourning until the following day when the village buries the individual. Despite the tradition of everything but essentials ceasing in the village, the chief and other leaders of the village decided to let us continue building. They thought that our work was valuable and knew that we could likely finish everything we could do by the end of the day. In return, we committed to respecting the somberness of the village and to not engage in loud games (soccer and ... read more
Processing to the House of the Deceased

Africa » Malawi June 30th 2016

On the way to the build site we stopped at a local market along the street. I spent a good portion of my kwacha (local currency) on two items for myself: a carved Noah's Ark and a carved nativity scene. The nativity scene has Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, an angel, a hut, a tree and a couple lambs. The Noah's Ark is a wooden ark that has a top that can be removed. Inside were lots of carved animals (in pairs) and Noah. Very happy with my purchases as I collect nativity scenes from around the world and love Noah's Ark. While not a fan of it because I am always afraid of not insulting the vendor, I did haggle on the price. Trying to secure a lower price is part of the culture so was ... read more

Africa » Malawi June 29th 2016

Today we split our group into two teams: Habitat staff members /AmeriCorp members and those who do not work at Habitat. My team worked with Bartholomew on Anne's house. We spent most of the time up on scaffolding finishing the outside walls. I loved getting to work with Nepman and Immanuel, Anne's two oldest sons on their house. In many ways, Nepman was like the builder. He worked alongside us and gently helped us correct our mistakes so that each row of bricks were level. It was wonderful to see the pride that he took in building his house. While we did not get a chance to talk with Anne, I would have loved to tell her that she should be so proud of her sons. They are very mature for their ages. Nepman shared he ... read more
Soccer Match
Nepman and Kevin on Scaffolding

Africa » Malawi June 29th 2016

We split part of today between the build site and visiting other places near the village, which provided us a deeper understanding about life for the community and the challenges the people of Malawi face. Our hosts and the leaders of the villages never seem to grow weary of all the questions we ask of them about their culture. I am humbled by their honesty and vulnerability as they share the challenges the people face and the stigmas that they have to battle. We stopped first thing at the local primary school. Children receive free primary education from kindergarten through 8th grade. The curriculum covers 9 subjects, including learning English. Our arrival created a a bit of a frenzy as the kids rushed to see us. The crowd grew as they started singing a song to ... read more
3rd Grade Classroom
Women at their Bakery

Africa » Malawi June 28th 2016

Travel between our hotel and build site took about an hour. Throughout the ride we often exchange waves and thumbs up with the people we pass. The children will often shout to get our attention. When we arrived back at our hotel, I got to enjoy my first warm shower while staying there. When I say warm, I should say lukewarm for enough time to wash my hair before back to the chilly water I decided was my normal temperature setting. Another room only got hot water and quite a few of us experience low water pressure. However, we still had access to clean water and could take showers, something that many people in Malawi could not enjoy. Due to poor infrastructure in the country, we experienced our first blackout. Instead of staying in my dark ... read more

Africa » Malawi June 28th 2016

After a hearty breakfast, which is a necessity for my malaria medication, I purchased some trinkets from the vendors along the shore of Lake Malawi. I ended up getting several paintings and keychains. I will receive the keychains tomorrow as they are being hand-carved on one side with the names I provided and one of the other side with an animal found in Africa. I am not the greatest at negotiating for lower prices and was trying to purchase items from several of the vendors instead of just one. Before heading to the build site, the team started the morning with a devotion on what it means to be an observer versus a participant. We discussed how we view and interact with those we come into contact with each day, ... read more
Door Frames and Scaffolding Added
Having Fun with the Kids

Africa » Malawi June 27th 2016

We arrived in the village of Dayison/Dyson in the Salima district to a group of women welcoming us with song. We later learned the songs were about welcoming Habitat to the village. The children watched from a distance, but within a few hours we bonded with the children. The chief of the village and some of the leaders welcomed us and shared their appreciation for coming to help build two homes in the village. After a quick safety talk and explanation of what we would be doing, we split our team into two groups based on age for day one. The older group worked with Bartholomew, while the younger group (my group) worked under the supervision of Harry. Our job for the week was to build all the exterior and ... read more
Oven to Bake Bricks to Make Them Stronger
Typical Housing in the Village
The Younger Team Hard at Work

Africa » Malawi June 26th 2016

A 32-year old widow, Pelepetuwa raises five children ages 17-8: Mary, Essaya, Stella, Weston and Veronica. Heavy rains destroyed the family's house so they current reside with Pelepetuwa's oldest daughter who has 3 children. This means 10 people live inside a small single roomed house, built with unburnt bricks, a dirt floor, no windows and almost no ventiliation. In addition, Pelepetuwa and one of her children are HIV positive and receive ARV medication from the government. Pelepetuwa shared her dreams of homeownership, "Getting a Habitat house would mean the world to me, I would have my privacy as my kids are getting older every day and its gets uncomfortable at times as there are boys as well sharing the same space and not only is this true for ... read more

Africa » Malawi » Lake Malawi June 26th 2016

Having lost her husband a number of years ago, Anne is a widow taking care of her 6 children: Nepiyala (Nepman), Mayeso (Immanuel), Cicilya, Amos, Senti and Hazitoni. To support her family and earn a living, Anne farms. Anne lives in a dilapidated house with a broken windows. Like most homes, it is constructed of unburnt bricks (mainly just dried dirt and water) and grass for its thatched roof. This means that the family experiences major leaks and a growing number of cracks during the rain season. The family's latrine fell so they must rely on the latrine of another family, creating an unhealthy environment. Anne shared with Habitat, "I'm not happy at all that my family do... read more




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