Saturday, October 17, 2009


The gift of Connection…

The gift of Wonder…

The gift of Expansion…

…of being welcomed by strangers in a strange land with smiles, open arms and open hearts.

… of bearing witness to deep personal story and to transformation, to tears releasing pain and joy.

…of creating bonds of friendship and committing to service across thousands and thousands of miles.

… of experiencing the Motherland with all her exploding colors, sounds, and smells and her exhilarating lifeforce energy!

The gift of feeling myself expand and continue to expand even now, weeks later, so that my heart has extra chambers, my aura more expansive boundaries, and my soul more depth—and I find myself more in love with humanity and more deeply devoted to serving all peoples.

Monday, October 12, 2009


By Mary Tuchscherer

As a child, I sat cross-legged and stared for hours at glossy packages waiting for me underneath the Christmas tree. Often anticipation and exuberance got the best of me when Mom and Dad weren’t looking. I remember the night my sister and I meticulously un-wrapped our electric toothbrushes, brushed until sparkly clean, and giggled uncontrollably, as we taped them up again before our parents could catch us.

At my father’s funeral, one man shared a story of how my dad gifted him with money so he could follow his dream to attend seminary. Another told of the time my dad slipped him extra pay for his work as a farmhand. The only caveat from my father’s voice: “This is just between you and me, son.”

It was a gift to be part of a family that could afford to shower me and others with gifts, but I soon learned that not all the children in my rural community were as fortunate. Once I learned the hard way, when out of what I mistook for jealousy, a friend stole my new winter boots. My child’s heart did not understand, and I felt alone, confused, and out of place.

Later in life I understood my good fortune to live in a country that encouraged education and where medical care was readily accessible. As my instruction progressed, I found cues in photographs and books that depicted a different way of life: famine, starving children, and orphaned babies. I read about girls who were not allowed to go to school because of their gender, or women who couldn’t receive maternal health care because they weren’t considered to be of value. My world expanded. I remembered the child who stole my boots. My heart opened.

Life experience has shown me that when I pay attention to life, I discover opportunities for myself and for others. That is why in 2007 I answered, “Yes!” to an invitation to travel to Malawi, Africa, one of the ten poorest countries in the world. That one decision changed my life.

Eighteen months later, in August 2009, I returned to Malawi with a group of eight women and a man. We brought a multitude of packages with us: Tylenol, aspirin, condoms, bandages, books, soccer balls, and more. There were no shiny wrappings to rip off, but undeniable gratitude from those who received the gifts. As a result of the gifts, an HIV/AIDS or malaria patient would find temporary relief from pain and fever, an elderly arthritic woman in the village could sleep through the night, or a husband and wife could unite without the threat of disease or pregnancy. These gifts offered temporary relief from the harshness of life in an impoverished country.

Perhaps the more permanent gifts were those of the heart. It began at Ndi Moyo Clinic, a holistic palliative care clinic for HIV/AIDS patients. There, under a newly constructed geodesic dome, people felt the power of Reiki and Healing Touch for the first time. There illiterate women stricken with AIDS told their stories to be recorded for future generations. Friendships formed and lives shifted. I don’t know which was more powerful; the passion for giving or the receptivity of those of us who received.

At Mua Mission, seven Malawian and nine North American women united to empower each other through the creative expression of writing. We wrote about the land we came from, our names, the wisdom of our ancestors, and we communicated our thoughts and feelings for each other through blessings.

In a culture that encourages women to remain silent, poets were birthed, buried voices returned to life, dreams were conceived and women connected - deeply. Like the subtle movement of a minor earthquake, a shift began. Having broken the barrier of difference, we recognized as friends with a common humanity those once considered “other.”

Further north in the poverty-stricken village of Tukombo a group of elder women gathered to have their hands, knotted from decades of pounding cassava and washing clothes on river rocks, caressed with lavender scented oil for the first and possibly the last time in their lives. Slices of simple white bread and orange Fanta were served to women who often survive on less than one meal a day.

Somewhere along the journey, the line between giver and receiver blurred. It doesn’t matter where, what matters is that we became one. We all became sisters of the heart who made a pact to continue to give voice to girls and women near and far. Personally, I felt grateful to harvest the seeds of generosity my father planted in my soul so long ago.

Friday, October 9, 2009


I brought home a stone

in the shape of a heart
from the shores
of Lake Malawi

this stone has been passed
from palm to palm
as I recount stories
alive in my memory

the stone carries with her
stories of the heart
it's rounded edges
speak of my own

last week I gifted this stone
to someone who would hold it dear
because I realized I could not cling
to the gifts of Malawi

it nearly broke my heart
to give away this stone
yet she now lives even more
within me, through the act of giving

for in giving I receive more
than I thought I could
and the warm heart of Africa
blesses this Canadian once more

Carissa Wieler
Petaluma, Oct. 7, 2009

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Gift

The Gift

Love embraced

Love replenished

Love extended




The long forgotten now unmasked

Unbind the restraints

Celebrated inner radiance


Wings spread

Voice shared

Self awakened



Friday, August 28, 2009

Amazing amazing amazing journey

I landed in New York three days ago. I was hyper aware of my alone-ness as I trekked through JFK airport. I was hyper aware of no one leading me, no one next to me, no one to talk to.
The connectedness, the compassion, the community that we have built continues to have a presence for me. We each gave the gifts of our stories, our voices, and did whatever it took to contribute that. I felt for myself the struggle to be vulnerable, the fear and then the courage to trust in others. Through the arts of sharing and listening I now have a family. I feel deeply connected to the women (my sisters) who were on this journey, and I have profound respect for who they are for others. Mary and Masanko, thank you for setting the stage for miracles to happen, for the opportunity to make a difference, and gently guiding and supporting us through our own discoveries, insights and experiences.

I remained in Malawi with Mary, Sue and Masanko for an extra week after the group left. I led a business workshop to 9 women with the help of Travis (Masanko's son in law) and Mwai (an essay winner). The workshop was intended to make a difference for the women who developed businesses and recieved grants through Voice Flame Writers, and the results were incredible. Connections were made to export goods, a business partnership formed, 3,000 T-shirts were sold, amongst other items, and each of the women were taught how to develop a business plan, SWOT analysis, and work with an income statement.
I also had the incredible opportunity to meet with about 50 women in the city of Blantire who are a part of the National Association of Business Women (NABW), which was started by the Vice President Joyce Banda! With the help of a Sophie's (NABW's project coordinator) translations I was able to understand more closely the opportunities and difficulties that women in business face there. My mind is spinning with ideas.
This journey has opened my heart to new possibilities, and a profound affinity for other women. It doesn't matter where we live, how we were raised, or the culture we come from, we are each human, we are each women who have a unique and valuable story to share and it has been an honor to have heard a few.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

chisomo ~ grace

can you hear my voice?
it travels with the winds
scattering infinite grains of sand across the sahara
the secrets of my sisters
of untold abuse, exploitation, and oppression

carrying with it my fierce spirit and brave heart
the heart of a warrior
heart of a woman

do you see me?
the burden i bear?
like so many lines of destiny etched into time
maps of trials and tribulation
tracing the palms

raised to the sky
waiting for precious dew from heaven
to quench the thirst of parched land
praying to heaven and earth
for strength, redemption

look at these hands of mine
they hold stories
of tenderness-
embracing loved ones
ushering new life to the world
of sacrifice-
tending to my duties as mother and wife
drawing water from the well
gathering firewood
toiling in the fields~ cultivating maize and cassava
of violation-
at the hands of wanton men lurking in the cassava fields
of injustice-
in the flailing fists of my husband
who wishes to break my spirit
who demands my hard earned money
from selling the fruits of my labor~ my blood, sweat, and tears
who wrecklessly spends it on booze and booty
leaving little for the needs of our family

my face
a mirror
do you see my beauty, my grace?
it is your beauty and grace
these rivulets of tears
they are your tears
can you see through windows beyond smiles
look within-
you will find an eternal life giving and sustaining well
one that gives of itself endlessly

will you not hear me?
will you not see?

though my hands chafe and wear with time
though my face weathers in the sun and wind
though my warrior heart breaks
my spirit endures
that is the heart and spirit of a woman
i am mother-daughter-sister-wife-and friend
i am grace

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Returning Home

Two days after returning from Malawi I wake in the middle of the night, my brain flooded with images--sharing food and stories with my new Malawian sisters,at Mua Mission, the dancers of Mua and Tukumba Village, gorgeous colorful fabrics, the baobab trees and rolling hills, waves crashing on the shore of Lake Malawi, many many beautiful smiling children, welcoming handshakes and faces and so much more. I am here in my home in San Francisco, immensely grateful for safe apassage and for all I have experienced and witnessed over the past 2 1/2 weeks, but Africa is running through my veins and singing in my soul! I am overwhelmed with how to pass on all the stories I have captured in my heart's memory, and how to integrate my new eyes and consciusness into my present everyday life. So I read my journal entries, this blog, and look at photos, and then take a step at a time forward into work and family, trying to keep this connection with the women of Malawi and the women from this country going strong! I am dreaming and planning and I have been inspird by you ALL.

Life After Mua

Its not every day that one comes across an experience that totally rejuvenates you, and changes your whole being inside out. Its not every day that a person meets a total stranger and instantly clicks with them as would a magnet to a piece of metal. Its not every day that a person opens up like a flower and shares all that is inside them with people.

But with Mua all these things were possible. On August 9, 16 women drawn from North America and Malawi in Africa came together for the first time and shared their stories. So powerful were the stories that tears were shared with reckless abandon. Together we weaved the various shades of our stories into one beautiful cloth. And together we realised that we were connected by a common purpose - to use our womanhood to make a difference.

Now that Mua has inspired us, we agree that we must not let the flame die. I see a flame so bright shining ahead of me. I want more Malawian women to tell their stories and to see their name in print. I am inspired and want to inspire others. I care about the girl child and want her to have a good future. I am hoping that I can use what Mua gave me to help female students find their inner voice. I know all this is possible and the flame that was first lit at Mua will torch the hearts of many more women to come.

Deborah Nyangulu-Chipofya

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Blessing For Ina

I wrote this for a Ina when we were at Mua Mission but thought it was a good Blessing for all Women.

My Dear Soul Sister I say your name as a prayer to all women.

As I stood on the deep rich dark soil of Africa today God whispered in my ear. He told me dear one about His most precious baby girl, you. His words came to me through the beautiful eyes of the woman you have become.

God spoke to me dear sister about the day of your birth. He told me my sweet, strong sister of the blessings He bestowed on you before you left the warmth of His loving embrace to touch all of our lives. You see my sister, God blessed you the day He gifted us with you. He blessed you with troubles and so you are strong, compassionate and kind to all. He blessed you with heartbreak so now your heart has broken open and the brilliant light within now radiates to all. He blessed you with your past so you would be this present now.

God wanted me to tell you dear one, He has blessed you with His strength and presences and to tell you he holds you in each moment.
God has blessed you today. You have become the promise of all He hoped and dreamed. Today dear sister God has blessed you with all the courage to use for wings to soar. Your heart has been blessed on this day; your kindness will bless the world.

Through your words, through your eyes and heart and strength of character you will write the stories of others. You will be the voice that carries the message of the spirit of the people, like the wind that blows across this land to others. You dear sister will be the smile of joy and openness of heart that others will see and trust. You will hear their story with an open heart of compassion and you will see His love in the eyes of others. You sister, will be strong enough to bear their story as you learned to bear your own. You will teach others and like seeds the lessons will take root and grow.

God has heard and granted your prayers. His strength is your strength. His compassion and kindness is your compassion and kindness and His love beats deeply in your heart. From this day forward, to the next, to the next and next, you will always know that God blessed you today, holding you in his embrace – that you are God’s most precious child He has never left you and never will.
Today God has blessed your heart with wings my sister and you will forever fly.

Friday, August 14, 2009


I feel new, I feel so fresh. Eversince I came back from Mua, this feeling of newness has not left me. I feel like I have gone through some kind of rebirth.
Oh yes, the experience I had at Mua is indescribable.
This is why I am asking the women of Malawi who want to participate in the Lilongwe and Blantyre writing workshops next week not to miss the chance

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

moon glow

gazing upward…
mesmerized by the luminous orb
along endless blankets of clouds
drawn into the eye of…
magnetic moon beam
lunar radiance showering down
a golden cascade
saturating my being
I surrender to wholeness

~cynthia hsu

malawian feast

They don’t know how to cook. Zilani, one of our new Malawian friends, cringes after taking a bite of the lunch prepared by the kitchen staff. It’s because they’re men. Shall we cook a proper Malawian meal? Then and there the Malawian women agreed that it would be a shame if we left the warm heart of Africa without experiencing an authentic Malawian meal.

After a shopping trip to the local market, seven Malawian women filed into the kitchen adjacent to the dining hall, relegating two baffled male cooks to the outdoors. I snuck in with a video camera and beheld a most colorful sight. The buzz of merry chatter filled the room as women poured their hearts into preparing a feast fit for kings and queens. It was apparent to me that the women took the utmost pride in sharing of their culinary delights with their new American/Canadian compadres. The aroma of kuku ya stew (stewed chicken), chambo cho kazinga (fried tilapia), mbatata (potatoes), fried zucchini and eggplant, and punga wakare (curried rice) seeped out through the kitchen doors to the dining area teasing our taste buds.

Dinner was quieter than usual as we were all busy shoveling food into our mouths leaving little time to talk. A chorus of mmm could be heard all around the table as we contentedly filled our bellies with seconds and even thirds. To express our gratitude for this unexpected gift, we did a little song and dance for our lovely Malawian chefs, singing our hearts out in Chichewa…zikomo zikomo (thank you). The looks of surprise and delight on their faces spoke volumes to their receiving our gift. And to our surprise and delight, they then spontaneously gifted us with a song in return… taku landi lani zikomo (we have received you, thank you).

~cynthia hsu

Malawian Perspective: Where do I Begin?

Deborah Nyangulu-Chipofya

Where do I begin? I am surrounded by so much love, beauty, passion, talent, trust, truth, diversity, art, intelligence, intimacy, rebirth, blessings, serenity …
Where do I therefore begin? This has been an amazing journey. 16 women most of them total strangers to me but now three days later they are like sisters to me. Through our stories and through our pens and paper I have come to know so much about these women. I am so happy to be part of such an amazing group. I am confident that this group is going to bear so many fruits together.

(Deborah Nyangulu-Chipofya is a journalist for the Daily Times, a Malawian newspaper circulation reaching around the country and a participant of the Voice Flame Writers workshop at Mua Mission, Malawi.)

Women in Malawi

I awoke at 4 am to the sounds of Malawi and village life. The rooster crowed way too early, followed by the hoot of the owl, chirping birds, and croaking frogs. I heard the rushing waters filling the deep gorge that separates me from the village of mud huts with thatched roofs. I smelled the morning fires and knew the women were already at work. I am in awe of these women. They are the backbone of family and community life. Their day starts early. I see them carrying buckets of laundry and pots to a pool of quiet water at the river’s edge. They use the smooth rocks to beat and scrub their clothing. They wash cooking pots and dishes with babies strapped to their backs. I see the strength of their arms, but wonder how they maintain their stamina. The Malawian women who are on retreat with us tell me the women only sleep 3 or 4 hours a night. Their days are filled with chores. They gather sticks to start the fire, nurse babies, prepare nsema, a corn meal staple of the Malawian diet, cook the food, work in the garden, tend the children, and carry buckets of water from the well on their heads. I gather strength from these women. Their lives are so different from mine, yet I know what they do for their family and community. They are the spirit that keeps Malawi alive.
Sue McCollum

Quotes of the Day

“Oh jear”
“I’ll share some of my goat”
“Those aren’t real people”
“Is that the Malawian sugar? Does it come in little baggies??
“OMG, I just got it!”
“I thought those were little potatoes”
“We’re going to stand in line for a hug and get married”
“Just one more step back George…”
“The drums are playing in the village”

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sounds of Mua Mission

Hello loved ones! I haven’t seen the whole blog yet so I don’t know if anyone has written about the sounds of Mua Mission, Mulawi. We awaken at about 5:45 to a VERY loud pounding of a drum (THAT was a surprise the first morning!) Then the village, just yards across the riverbank (Mua Mission complex having been built on the land around and above the river on one side) comes instantly alive and the sounds continue nonstop all day: women washing their clothes in the river and beating them against the rocks, young men scraping off (to clean) large aluminum pans in which they cook meat or some parts of an animal to sell in the market, goats bleating, people greeting each other and calling across the rocks in melodious Chechewa, and always the children, the children playing and laughing and singing and crying. This morning, starting at about 7, the added sound of some kind of African soukous-like/ Caribbean-sounding dance music playing on (I guess) a tape recorder added the background soundtrack. (I was just informed that it is Zamimbian and Malawaian and maybe other African music. Did I say that the music hasn’t stopped all day (and it is now 6:30 pm)? The same tape playing over and over and over….. Oh, and now that it is dark the crickets and bullfrogs are adding to the chorus! This may sound chaotic but in reality it isn’t—somehow it all fits together as part of the tapestry of color and life and family and community and the beauty of the landscape, the sound of the river, the large open sky and the rising moon.
A few words about the food, also don’t know if this has been written of, but this is mostly for those who know me or others from the California “food world.” So guys, I’ve been eating on a very regular basis loads of white rice, goat meat (good!), white bread, instant coffee, and Coca-Cola—and it’s all good, folks.
There is SO SO SO much more that is happening here in terms of the writing and the Interplay… more to follow….
Blessings !---Judith

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Quotes of the Week...

"Did you need some more time with the chocolate bag?"
** Translation: Get your fat hands out of the candy bag!

"Get your fat hands off me!"

"Is there really a Chili's here??" "Wow, you must be reaaally tired (pat, pat)."

"If I am asleep in the van, that means I am "in the van.""

"Is there one word I could say that would convince you to go?"

"Do you want to be my boyfriend?" "Do you mean girlfriend?" "No, boyfriend." "So, you want me to be your bodyguard?" "No, I'm sorry!"

"How much, K280?" "Now, K380?" "Thats some inflation!"

"You must be really tired!"

Breakfast with Winners!

As each women arrived at our hotel for breakfast, there was both gratitude and honor consuming all. The three women, ranging from 19 to 23, received micro-grant and were able to join us for breakfast. Our group created a beautiful ceremony for the presentation of the grant awards for these women which included a blessing for their future business endeavors and a symbolic gift of jewelry.

Mwai, the oldest at 23, will start a jewelry making business. Mitali at age 20, inspired by her mother, wants to start a clothing business. Sarai at 19 is the youngest is attending the local college and looking into starting a business that would allow her the freedom to continue her studies. With this meeting, we have started networking opportunities for these ladies to support each other with cross promotion.

What we want to mention about these young ladies is that each one, being so young to American standards, were so poised, courageous, and unstoppable in the face of their circumstances. Each harbored the character and integrity to greatly contribute to others. As women, each member of our group was left humbled in the presence of these women and inspired by what we are capable of as a woman.

Each grant recipient found this as an invaluable and affirming tool for their self confidence and dreams to be fulfilled. The day ended fittingly with an angelic and haunting song sung by Sarai that captured the essence and losses and dreams of Malawian women.
Like big to little sisters, we walked Sarai to catch the bus, empowered to take the next step in her journey which we trust will be one of many to come in her successful life!

Jill, Karen, and Megan

A Narrative in Malawi

Today I met Lucy, the owner of Ndi Moyo, the sole HIV palliative care clinic in Malawi ( She met us at the hotel at breakfast and we began the day hearing about how Lucy and her husband started the clinic after moving back to Malawi for retirement. They had been living in the UK, Lucy a nurse and her husband, a forester. Initially, they planned to retire at their place on Lake Malawi, yet because of the intense HIV situation in Malawi and because there was currently no palliative care in Malawi for people with HIV, they opened the clinic as volunteers. Currently funded by a UK non-profit, the clinic provides medications not currently available in hospitals, as well as psychological and spiritual support. “We meet people where they are at”, Lucy stated, explaining that all religions (i.e. Muslim and Christian, predominant in the area) are supported. “If a person is psychologically or spiritually ill, it can affect their physical health, and those deeper issues need to be addressed, and we do all of this at the clinic”, Lucy said. The clinic serves 20-30 people at a time and is a day clinic where people may receive an examination or pick up medications. As we would spend the day there, we would see the large medicinal garden, modest clinic and administrative buildings and an impressive geodesic dome.

We left for the clinic, piling newly returned suitcases on the roof of the van, tied down by a single rope woven through the 7 or 8 suitcases. George, our driver, secured them convincingly; perhaps knowing the roads would have some bumps along the way. In 20 minutes, we arrived at the gate of the clinic. I immediately noticed that the property felt very cared for, with lush gardens circling a dome shaped building we would later learn was intended to provide shade for group activities in the community. Inside the small building, our group snapped photos and took video at every corner, looking inside the three small rooms, including the treatment room where a community member was receiving medication for his terminal illness. We ducked into the room and said hello, as a patient smiled out from behind the curtain (I have to chuckle as I write this!). We also snapped a few photos of a makeshift wheel chair fitted with a plastic garden chair donated by an NGO. The tour then took us to the medicinal plant garden. Lucy explained their goal to plant as many medicinal plants as possible, and described in detail plants used for Malaria and HIV. Cannabis would be excellent if she were allowed to grow it. We later sipped on lemon grass tea, dried from the garden, and learned of its many health benefits besides being delicious. Our tour ended with a discussion in the administration office with Lucy’s husband, a forester by trade who she had met in Scotland. Lucy, a Malawian, and her husband, a Brit, had met in Scotland. Together they had lived in UK and Uganda, before moving to Malawi to retire.
We spoke about the forestry situation in Malawi – two main points stand out in my mind, the first that as forests had been heavily logged, a national and expensive reforestation program was initiated. This program resulted in many “pretty photos” of Malawian women planting trees however was mismanaged because the trees were not watered beyond the initial planting so were not making it. The second point was that local Malawians were actually doing a better job of caring for trees in their own yards, as this provides a type of long-term security, though many of these projects were going unnoticed by the government. While education is good, those who tend the land already know how to look beyond 5 or 10 years. I felt both hope and challenge in these words.

For the next part of the day, our group offered services to support the clinic including legacy interviews and energy healing treatments and trainings. The legacy interviews were intended to provide the loved ones of those at the clinic with a photo and a written legacy of life story, special memories, family lineage events, and anything else they wanted to tangibly share with their children and family. Three members of our group, Kari, Mary and Sue interviewed three women in the shade of the dome. In two cases, nurses and staff members translated. The day was warm yet breezy and the sky softly clouded. Jill recorded the interviews in video. Karen initiated Lucy into Reiki, and when the interviews were completed, the three women were offered Reiki by Karen and Megan or Healing Touch by Judith and Cynthia. For the latter part of the afternoon, we offered Reiki and Healing touch to the volunteers and workers at the clinic (there were about 7) and also to George. We discovered that energy work generally was new to just about everyone there. By the end of the day, the doctor asked to be initiated into Reiki and the administrator asked where he could find more information. I had given some energy healing to a volunteer at the clinic who was also ill; she and I personally connected as well as she explained what she felt happening in her body during the treatment and I described my perceptions as well. I can still feel the quality of our hug. Judith gave 2 or 3 weeks worth of acetaminophen (they go through about 5,000 per month). The nurses and volunteers commented on how good they felt, and we left the clinic an hour later than planned (about 5:30pm) on a high. I wondered if I would return there, feeling the pull.

We then headed south to Mua Mission (, our next resting stop where we will stay for 4 nights. The heart of our journey begins here, as we will meet with 8 Malawian women who will join us in 4 days of writing workshops. The women participating in this workshop are leaders in their own fields, whether working for the United Nations in public health communications or opening schools for the deaf (not common in Malawi). I can feel the excitement bubbling. The Mission is incredible, every space decorated with traditional masks, sculptures, and carvings, paying homage to various mythical figures. There is a soft drumming noise heard in the distance as dancers party and prepare for the festival tomorrow (we will see all of the traditional dances of Malawi), and also a wedding.

As no blog was posted yesterday I’ll briefly mention that we visited Lake Malawi at night, under full moon for a first taste of Masankho’s InterPlay (, where we danced and moved to the stories told through our bodies, on the beach. You guessed it, pretty incredible. Earlier in the day, we had breakfast with three women who received an award for their essays. We learned much about their lives, inspirations, we also wrote blessings for them, gave a piece of jewelry from home, and their grant. Their maturity (two were 19 and 23 years old), personal pride, and confidence inspired many in our group. There were many tears and laughs. One woman brought samples of the jewelry she plans to sell because of the grant; another plans to open up a shop that sells jewelry among other things! One woman said, “because someone has recognized my writing out of over 100 entries, I feel that others will also like my writing and I will write more” (my words).

It’s 10pm, and the toads are calling out from the small marsh at Mua Mission. The air is cool and the sky is very dark, nearly black. Energy in the air is palpable as drumming softly continues in the distance. I aim for a full night sleep tonight. Giggling with Mary capped off my evening, it’s amazing what gets spilled when the sisterhood (plus Masankho who is well versed in traveling with groups of women) comes together. Oh, and to finish, this is what Masankho has learned about women from traveling with groups of them: 1) he has to listen more when women speak than when men speak (because women need to be listened to in a detailed way), and 2) just because a women says something one day doesn’t mean she will feel the same about it the next day! (half our group wanted to send their partners to a Masankho workshop for men!).

Signing off, Carissa

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Lovely Day

This evening we closed the day with a writing exercise and I recognized the generosity and love present in this community. I am very moved by who these women are. I have had an incredible time so far, and am eager for more....including more bananas....:)
I am so grateful for being on this trip and realize through who I have had the opportunity to meet, that I am in the perfect place. I shared with the group tonight that I feel surprisingly present and recognize myself as being at home because home exists inside the walls of my skin.....So I am very comfortable here.
Some highlights from the day....we traveled to a wildlife reserve and saw the CUTEST monkeys!!!! Then I spoke to some women who were dealing with problems at their volunteer positions, one was from Malawi and another from the UK...I hope I made a difference...
For dinner we went to Sue's sons house, which was beautiful and met his family, and with 3 women who have spearheaded the Voice Flame Writers mission here or wrote essays. I think all would agree we engaged in amazing conversation and learned a great deal about what women are dealing with here.
Karen and I are inspired to work with girls who are not achieving their education because of multiple reasons......and Carissa and I ended the evening with an incredible talk about our futures, life and all the possibilities!!!!
YAYA!!! Malawi is awesome!!!

We have landed!

From Megan:

We have landed in Malawi safe and sound! The travel to Malawi went without too many hiccups. South African Air somehow left all our luggage in Jo'berg and it may catch up with us in a day or two. Until then, we are making do... after all, it is Africa! The group is offering all extras such as t-shirts and sweaters- not underwear!

To establish our connections to the African soil, several of the group participated in a short ceremony setting intentions. We sat on the ground, connecting ourselves to the earth and to each other. Some of the sista's brought and shared bits of personal earthly pieces, I presented my travel shamrock that Dorothy gave me before my first journey abroad with my mother many, many years ago.

Additionally, this morning, just as the sun was starting to brighten the sky, the call to prayer was signaling. It was a magical time to share the moment with the country, or at least the 20% of the people that were called to be up at that hour to pray.

Tonight, our group will be together as we have dinner at Sue's son's house. Sue will then join us for the rest of the journey. Looking for more stories to share as the days and journey continues.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Journey Begins...

As I entered the room, I was enveloped with the fluttery voices, fast paced conversations and a general giddiness so thick it was palpable throughout the house. This was the first time that all of these women were in the same physical space. It is true, some of us have spoken on the phone or through email, but now, we were all together! This was truly different. This day made it all real, the journey was tangible. These courageous women had begun our journey together.
On Sunday, July 19, 2009, these amazing women, six physically present in a California home and the three others joining via technological hook-ups from the Eastern United States, began this amazing journey together. Throughout the day, we opened our hearts, minds and souls to the journey, each other, and the women whose lives we will be touching in Malawi (rather the women who will touch our lives in Malawi!). I could see each woman's unique and wonderful gifts enriching the day.

This blog will be a collaborative effort of these 9 women journeying together as a part of the The Voice Flame Writer's, Malawi Project. The blog will chronicle the trip that officially takes place from August 3 through August 19 in the African country of Malawi. The goal of this project is to support the native women preserve their legacy.

I feel honored and humbled by the task ahead of me (and this probably is the same for each of us). Though only 9 of us are actually going to Malawi, there the many people who offered their support for each of us, are coming along. They will be present as we meet, talk with, and share experiences with these women. Thank you all- Blessings!