Monday, May 30, 2011
Friday, May 20, 2011
As some of you may know, I recently received what is quite possibly the greatest package of all time. Zach sent me a little netbook and a hard drive loaded up with TV and other media, and it has changed my routine in amazing ways. Now, instead of compulsively reading books all day when I'm not working, I read COMIC books on my computer all day when I'm not working. This, my friends, is progress.
And, of course, there is the TV, oh TV, how I missed you- one of my favorite parts of having shows to watch is the way that Hector will watch it with me- or rather, she'll watch me watch TV. Last night, she laid on my chest sphinx -like, and twisted her head in that cute sideways dog way every time there was a strange noise on the show I was watching- and every time I would laugh, her eyebrows would crease in concentration, and she would look between me and the screen, alternatively twisting her head and whining a little. Dogs are cool. I had about two seasons of shows to catch up on- some observations:
-30 Rock- always awesome.
-The Office- over it. I'm sorry, but you all have jobs with health insurance, and get to have houses with toilets, and I'm supposed to derive humor from the fact that you get bored at your job?
-Parks and Recreation- like it. Pretty much like the office, but with less complaining.
-Various BBC Sci/Fi shows- nice escape for a lonesome little PCV, because hey, I may have problems with ants in my house, and on more than one occasion have woken up with a cockroach in my bed and stuff, but at least I'm not a vampire/misfit who can read minds/ghost who lives with a werewolf/or the last of the time lords. Another thing I like about the BBC is that I feel like the actors on it are good looking, but aren't too good looking. This is good for my self esteem, because even though I ran out of shampoo a month ago, I feel like I could be on TV, at least in England.
-Mad Men- you would think that after living in Africa, that I'd be sick of consumerism or the ad industry, but I think that Don Draper might just be too handsome to do anything that would really make me annoyed for long.
Of course, I don't spend all of my time watching TV on my wonder of a netbook (its so small!), I have also been working- though in the past five weeks, we have had school on a Monday exactly ONE TIME! The reasons for the various holidays in chronological order: Easter Monday, Labor Day, Something I can't remember, possibly a bank holiday, and last Monday, it was Kamuzu day. Any time there is a holiday over the weekend, the government closes down schools the following Monday, but doesn't announce it until the Friday before at around 2:00. I went to Catholic School, and we never had Easter Monday off- and how can you have a Labor Day if your country doesn't have unions? Or Labor, for that matter, practically every day is Labor day if 90% of your country is unemployed. The one that gets me the most, however, is Kamuzu day- the man was a genuine dictator, but he still gets a national holiday.
My women's groups are going well- the Umoza group which sells school uniforms is inching toward our goal of buying a new sewing machine! Thank you very much to anyone who bought a bag from me over Christmas, because this is how we have been able to afford to really get the business going. We just need a few more people to pay us for their school uniforms, and we can buy it. See, we have a problem, as a PCV, I am unable to be in charge of the group finances, which is fine, but that also means that the group 'sold' all of its uniforms on credit this term, even though I told them not to, but then, I only really work with the group on an advisory capacity, so what can you do? Either way, this has made me sigh like a Peanuts character on more than one occasion. If we hadn't sold the uniforms on credit, we would have bought the second sewing machine months ago, and Ama Banda would have been able to teach sewing lessons out of her house to the other group members. Instead, we've been chasing people to pay us for school uniforms their children have already been wearing for months.
The other group, which I usually think of as the Wednesday group, is also really getting into its stride. A few weeks ago, I gave the group members a little loan of about 3,000Mk to start a scone* business, and they have already managed to start paying me back while maintaining the business. The group has pulled together nicely now that they have a purpose, and each member now has a little bit of money to take home to their families, but the majority of the profits are going toward making improvements to the primary school in the village. Their long term goal is to hire a teacher, and there is some talk of perhaps hiring one of my current students once he has finished with school. For a kid with such few options, this is huge.
The other day, that kid and I were walking home from the group meeting. My bag was full of fresh baked scones from the group, and we ate them as we went. I asked Franzelo what the previous PCV in my area was like, and after much deliberation he came up with two statements: “He had a bicycle, and he loved vegetables.”- but he didn't just say that he 'loved' vegetables, he said he 'loooooved' vegetables. What will they say about me? She had a bicycle, and she loooooved dogs. I'll take it.
Ok, I should go, the ants are back.
*a scone in Malawi is really just a bread roll, don't ask me why they call them scones