Monday, July 11, 2011

This will never be a Good-Bye.

Monday, July 11:
            After a relaxing last Saturday, we all experienced bittersweet goodbye to Zomba.  We spent the majority of Saturday going into town to get last minute gifts, last minute cake at Tasty Bites and then starting to pack up our room and belongings for Club Mak and Lilongwe.  We all had a great dinner together, Radford and Virginia Tech girls, as we discussed with Dr. Kelly and Dr. Patti the future plans and foregoing’s of the Chibale Society.  The Chibale Society was started in 2005 by Dr. Kelly and Dr. Patti, and was originated on the idea of a scholarship program.  (The children who I sponsored to attend secondary school was through the Chibale program.) Throughout the year, the program has advanced and is also the reason for the feeding center at the Malemia School, the chicken raising project at the Demonstration School, and the locks, blackboards and chicken coop at our Government School.  The project is still growing, and collectively we came up with some great ideas for fundraising and really promoting the Chibale Society.  We then voted on co-Presidents, one from Virginia Tech and one from Radford, to be in charge of the further development and goal reachings for the Society.  These people will take lead for the Chibale Society by getting the club recognized at their college campus and setting up materials for the first meeting in September.  These girls will be in charge of setting up meeting times, making sure to meet group goals and deadlines, and sending out applications for positions which we will determine at the first meeting.  After voting was over, I am honored to say that I was voted into the first Virginia Tech President of the Chibale Society!  Danielle was nominated for Radford, so I am so excited to be working side-by-side with her.  Now these children really will be with me forever, and the nomination made leaving Malawi that much easier for me.  I can leave knowing that I still have so much work ahead of me, and now I can really implement all my ideas and goals into reality.  When the meeting was over, Danielle and I met briefly to discuss things we need to do this summer (make a listserve, a facebook group, a facebook page, set up the first meeting, get everyone’s contact information- alumni as well-, send out applications, exc.) and then we divided up the assignments.  I am seriously so excited and so honored.
Sunday morning we woke up at 6:45 am, brought our bags down the hill and ate breakfast while Annie’s staff loaded the trailer.  By 8:30 am we were saying our goodbyes and giving hugs to Annie and the staff, and then we were on the way to Club Mak!  The weather got progressively better as we were driving, and with the cold front we had been facing the past week and a half, we were accepting of the fact we might not have sun.  As long as it wasn’t cold, we could deal.  We pulled up to Club Mak at about 11:30 am and it was so beautiful!  The clouds had partially cleared and the weather was probably in the 70s with a breeze.  We all got our room assignments, and Alison, Bebe and I were placed in the beautiful room 35, looking over the beach and Lake Malawi.  We quickly changed into our suits and headed to the beach and bar to meet up with everyone else.  The following three hours were spent lying out on the beautiful beach, overlooking the mountains and shining water and trying to absorb sunshine on our blinding pale skin between series of clouds. 
After a few hours and realizing the sun probably wasn’t to get any brighter, we all took a walk outside of Club Mak towards the vendors and to explain the rest of the resort.  As beautiful and relaxing as it was, we all agreed that nothing could top Camp Mvuu.  The food, the staff, the location, the chalets; everything was absolutely perfect (minus the freezing nights).  When we got back from the venders, we all headed back to the beach for more drinks.  One thing turned into another, and before I knew it Katie, Alison, Danielle and I were entertaining all the boys on the beach while trying to attempt one-handed cartwheels.  The sun started quickly going down, and our bottles of wine had made us well-off.  We decided we should probably shower, so Alison and I headed to our rooms and all said we would meet back at the bar in 45 minutes.  Of course, since Alison and I can’t do anything like normal people, we thought it’d be such a fun idea to shower together in our bathing suits just like we did when we were kids!  Next thing you know, we’re in our suits jumping around in the shower, making mohawks with shampoo in our hair.  Mature, I know.  We’re a pretty dynamic duo if you ask me.
After our fun resort back to childhood, we put on our yoga pants and headed out to the restaurant for our dinner.  Unfortunately, plans changed this year and we were all saddened to learn that the dinner wasn’t going to be buffet style.  However, since Dr. Kelly had already paid for everything, she said that we could order anything we wanted off the menu!  This was a dangerous call for 20 starved teenagers in Africa, regardless of the fact that most of us were intoxicated.  We were each allowed to order an appetizer, and entrée and a dessert.  Obviously, Alison and I both wanted two desserts, so we figured it’d be so smart to order one for our appetizer!  Everyone was brought out their corn chowder soup, and there’s Alison and I slurping down our fruit and ice cream.  To our defense, the tiny scoop of ice cream was more like sorbet, so our choice was actually a lot healthier than the corn chowder. BAM.  After a full-course meal with fruit, chicken, vegetables, potatoes and marble cake, we all headed back to the bar for another bottle of wine.  We then watched an hour long traditional dancing performance, including full facial masks and drumming solos.  Alison, Katie, Jameson and I then stumbled back to our room where we played old-school camp games and then fell asleep on each other in the same bed while playing hot-seat.   It really was such an amazingly fun, relaxing and successful day and night and I can honestly say I call these girls my best friends.
This morning we woke up at about 6:45 am and headed to the breakfast buffet, which I can confidently say we have all been counting down the days to experience.  After scarfing down the most delicious banana bread, bowls of cereal, omelets and chips, we all headed to our rooms to pack feeling completely stuffed.  What a good feeling to feel after being hungry for the majority of a month!  Sadly, we all packed up our stuff and headed to the bus for our 5 hour drive to Annie’s Lodge in Lilongwe.  We stopped at Mua Mission, a museum started by Catholic missionaries whose goal is to preserve the culture of African tribes.  They stated that to move forward, you must always remember where you have come from.  Honestly, most of us just wanted to arrive at Annie’s Lodge, and everyone knows I’m not into all the historical aspects of travel, but I tried engaging myself in the material. 
Finally, at about 3:30 pm, we arrived earlier than expected at Annie’s.  We had time to freshen up and rearrange our suitcases before we headed down the street to a party held for us by the United States Embassy Public Relations Director.  None of us really knew what to expect at all, but it was honestly such an amazing end to an even more amazing and life-altering trip.  There were about 10 different staff members at the party, which was held at the house of the PR Director, his wife and his children.  We socialized with such great people who all work for the Embassy, some from America and some locals from Malawi.  We met an absolutely hysterical guy named Winston who is actually coming to Virginia Tech in December for his PhD.  Katie, Alison and I talked with him for awhile and he had us cracking up the entire time.  We told him we’re taking him out with us to the bars when he comes to Tech and will take him hiking, exc.  Throughout the evening, the hosts brought out plates and plates of pizza bites, samosas, quiche and cupcakes.  I don’t think I’m lying when I say I ate probably 10 samosas (similar to eggrolls), 4 pizza bites and 2 cupcakes.  Holler, just preparing myself for my return to AMURICA.
Now, Katie, Ashley and I are settled back into our initial room at Annie’s Lodge, all reminiscing on our time here and disbelieving that tomorrow we’re departing from a whole circle experience.  I can honestly say this was, by far, the most amazing experience of my life and the people I’ve met here are more amazing than any others I have ever encountered.  Without a doubt, Katie and Alison are going to remain best friends of mine throughout my life, and these children will be the loves of my life until the day I die.  I am seriously giving thought to moving out here after graduation for a year or two to work at a school, and after talking to the individuals tonight from the Embassy I am confident that I would be so happy here.  I don’t think I could do it by myself, but a few of us girls are really going to talk about our futures here.  Malawi will always hold my heart, and I cannot wait to return here in the future to continue my journey to make a difference.  Peace, love, Malawi is no longer a slogan, but now a lifestyle.  Forever and always, Malawi will have a part of me and will be responsible for showing me true and genuine happiness.  Thank you Malawi, for more experiences and happiness than I could have ever imagined. 

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