A Traveler’s Tales from Malawi

More about the Nditha 3 Launch…
June 28, 2008, 12:22 pm
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So I should have explained the photos below…We launched the third phase of the Nditha (“I Can Do It”) multi-media behavior change campaign this past Wednesday. 

We conducted baseline research in 2003 and discovered that although the majority of Malawians have a high knowledge of the ABC (abstinence, be faithful, and use condoms) HIV prevention mesages, there is an overwhelming sense of hopefulness and lack of control over preventing HIV. Also, the research found that there is a lack of communication around HIV and AIDS issues. So JHU/CCP’s BRIDGE project decided to implement a nation-wide multi-media behavior change campaign that is supported by community activities. This campaign is called Nditha (“I Can Do It”). It incorporates messages with small do-able actions that anyone can take to prevent HIV. These messages are reinforced on posters, billboards, radio spots, training/curricula materials, and community drama and outreach activities.

The first phase was implemented in 2005, stressing small do-able actions that the general population can take. The second phase targeted Malawian men and their role in HIV prevention and being active members of their families and communities. This phase focuses on individual risk perception especially risks associated with mother-to-child transmission of HIV, intergenerational and transactional sex, and alcohol use and abuse and risky sexual decisioin-making.

We launched the campaign with a community event, which included speeches from honored guests – the USAID Mission Director and Principal Secretary of the Ministry of HIV and Nutrition. The event also included a drama performance around the various issues of individual risk and multiple sexual concurrent partners. The drama actors (who I am pictured with in the last slide) did a FANTASTIC job! Although it was in Chichewa, I understood the acting which is great and the audience really loved it!

I served as the photographer of the event and had a great time! Malawian children love to have their pictures taken and then shown to them. So I had a following to say the least 🙂 What was funny was the fact that I was even asked by the chiefs of Chinsapo community if I could take their photos. This totally surprised me and was an honor. I will try to upload more photos later. I also took a short video on my camera of the traditional dance, Beni, which was really great especially b/c a young woman led the dance troupe and that is very unusual since it’s a dance mainly performed by men.


Nditha III Launch Event…Great Fun!
June 26, 2008, 1:32 pm
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Nditha! III (I Can Do It!)...Risk Perception Campaign Lauch

The community audience at Chinsapo


The drama actors and me

Funny story!
June 24, 2008, 7:43 am
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This morning, I tried putting on one of my three-quarter length sleeve blouses and encountered some amusing difficulty. My cleaning lady ironed my shirts on Sunday, and I have no idea what she used but basically the sleeves have been ironed permanently together. I was able to successfully force my one arm through. I wasn’t as lucky with the other sleeve. It totally ripped. I felt like The Hulk 🙂 Since I’m a bit lazy in the early morning and was already planning to wear the outfit that I had on, I decided that I could fix the situation and basically cut the blouse into short sleeves. I was planning on wearing a jacket anyways. I am learning great skills in flexibility, improvising, and patience. Of course, I’ll probably need an entire new wardrobe when I get back to the States 🙂

First successful negotation
June 23, 2008, 4:56 pm
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I found Season 2 of Prison Break and was able to negotiate the cost for what I paid for Season 1. And now I have become a true addict and am sharing the DVDs with neighbors. Basically, I’m running a library of movies and books out of my apartment. Thanks to some friends that left Malawi to return to the States and left me all their movies 🙂

Some wedding photos…not many due to internet difficulties
June 18, 2008, 4:51 pm
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Random Check-in
June 18, 2008, 4:19 pm
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Last night, I went to a yoga class that I’m stiff feeling the consequences of today. Who would have thought that I could be so still and inflexible?!?! I thought that since I can reach my toes I’m pretty good. Oh, this instructor taught me something else 🙂

It was fun! I’m going to try and do it from now on. But we will see because it takes place right after work and now that it’s winter it gets so dark so quickly so I have to coordinate everything quite perfectly in order to make it. A nice, yoga-experienced Scottish woman was kind enough to invite me and offer to drive me weekly. So we will see…

Other news: I made a presentation with a colleague about the Malawi BRIDGE Project this morning to the new group of Peace Corps volunteers. They were really impressed with everything that we have developed and do. In fact, I was approached afterwards for higher education and career counseling advice b/c I have the young woman’s ideal job 🙂

Also, I learned that it is a delicacy of the south-central regions to eat roasted mice. They sell them on the stick along the road. The driver asked me if I wanted to try the local sausage. I noticed that the driver was smiling mischievously so I said only if you are hungry as well 🙂 To say the least, he has never tried it so I don’t think that I’m going to bother with that adventure.

Weekend Highlights
June 16, 2008, 12:31 pm
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  • I found a restaurant that actually accepts credit cards. Granted, the fee is an additional 6% or 16% on top of the already 17.5% tax on everything. Regardless, I’m still impressed. It’s really a cash economy here.
  • I learned of another grocery store-type of store. I swear in order to get everything that you need/are looking for you must be prepared to go to at least 3-4 shops. Those who know me well know that this would drive me crazy, but I’m adjusting 🙂
  • I went to my coworker’s wedding on Saturday which was a lot of fun. I arrived 30 minutes late b/c I was told that it wouldn’t start on time. I was still one of the first 4 people there so I sat with the family. Everyone was very sweet to me. As a group, my colleagues went in on a present and sashayed/danced our way down the aisle to the bride and groom. Needless to say, the floor was slick and I bit the dust. So embarassing! I left not that long afterwards 🙂 I will try to upload some photos later in the week. The good news is that I wasn’t the main photographer. I forewarned my friend that she may want to engage a professional. She already had before I even said anything…so the pressure was off…thank goodness!
  • Malawi’s national football (soccer) team won against Egypt. This was a huge deal since Egypt was the African reigning champions. I’m still hearing stories about the game today – two days later.
  • It will never be forgotten that I was in Malawi in 2008 b/c I was counted for the census. A young woman came to my apartment yesterday for me to complete the census survey. Pretty impressive!