South Africa Vlog #3; Ihunanya

November 22nd, 2017 by Chinyere Nwankudu

South Africa Vlog #2; “Do You Slide On All Your Nights Like This?”

November 21st, 2017 by Chinyere Nwankudu

South Africa Vlog #1; Table Mountain

November 20th, 2017 by Chinyere Nwankudu

Touch of Typhoid

July 12th, 2017 by Chinyere Nwankudu

Part One:


I’m sick. It started a week ago.

When I woke up the first day, I felt fine. I would clear my throat every couple of minutes without noticing I was doing it.

An infinitesimal scratch. A feather-like caress. I thought, perhaps, it was just a particularly stuffy day.

By midnight, my throat felt as if moss were growing inside it.

I sat in front of my friend’s heater — a small, all-metal appliance with exposed rods — and felt my skin pucker. The heat was not the type that lovingly enveloped you. It was not a heater that made you feel better about being alone in a freezing apartment with indecisive Wi-Fi, nor was it one that helped you come to terms with the fact you were becoming ill.

With this heater, you fell — kicking and screaming — into the heat. It felt like a miniature sun.

I thought, if I could bear it, I would arise less sick.

When I got home I took a pill with passionfruit juice. I felt a little better so I went to sleep.

Morning came, and I opened my eyes to the sound of my alarm. I was sick.

Now, everyone in the house is sick, and not in an endearing way.

There are no teddy bears here. No chicken noodle soup. No button-red noses.

We sneeze like we’re trying to turn ourselves inside out.

And the snot is thick. It gushes out of our noses like Pillsbury biscuit dough bursts out of the container. We have to leave our classes to cough our throats raw. Today, as we sat in front of the heater, one of my housemates showed me a rash on her chest. She said, “I think I have a touch of typhoid.”

I wonder, does a society notice when it’s getting sick?

When neighbors start rubbing their candy-colored eyes, who notices when they turn red?

When police officers clear their throats as a couple passes on the way to the park, do the lovers begin to feel a tickle in their own?

Do mouths dry out before or after native languages have been banned?

When children complain about the dogs barking ferociously at night, does the whole neighborhood lose sleep?

In Parliament, do papers slide a little less smoothly into filing cabinets? Does the microphone keep cutting off?

Before the churches become clinics, does anyone wonder why people are laying in the pews? (And does a single person question the splatters of wine, or ask why they’re trialing down the aisle?)

Does anyone take measures against becoming ill?

Before I left the United States, my mom packed me a mini-pharmacy. I have antibiotics, Naproxen, Mucinex, nasal spray, and Tylenol. But a country can’t reach into a bathroom cabinet.

Instead, are house deeds moved to a safe? Is a shaman somewhere cutting herbs, slaughtering sheep?

Do elders gather around fires to talk?

If so, South Africa and I are the same. Curled up pathetically in front of the heat, convinced the burning outside will stop the burning within.


Part Two:

The oversimplification of illnesses leads to incorrect diagnoses.

I told my friend Dylan that, contrary to what most women say, period cramps do not feel like being stabbed. They feel as if someone has carved a cylindrical hole in your uterus through which a small snake is writhing about, trying to escape.

I told my history class that, contrary to what South African news sources say, the problem with Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga is not that hundreds of residents share a single water tap.

The aching of it is that the area has been ignored by the South African government since the dismantling of Apartheid, an event that placed the town at the edge of a province 300 km away from the nearest major city.

The bleeding of it is that an eleven-year-old boy must wait hours to collect water for his disabled mom, in addition to walking two kilometers to school every day.

The nausea of it is that town inhabitants are exposed to violent muggings as they queue for water, solely because criminals know they have no other choice but to come.

When I pulled down my pants on Saturday morning and saw the catastrophe that awaited me I said, “Oh no.”

But at least I had the water to wash my hands.

Initial thoughts and freak out moments

August 27th, 2016 by Punam Mulji

Blogs are a something of a foreign concept to me. I don’t read many of them, and I certainly have never written one. I hope that acts as a kind of disclaimer for what you are about to read. This is going to be a steady stream of my thoughts, opinions and observations over my journeys through Bolivia, Guatemala, India and Haiti.

Day 1: July 31 10:55pm-11:00pm

Here I am sitting on American Airlines plane on the tarmac in Miami after listening to the flight attendant go over the seemingly never changing safety procedures. I am freaking out to put it plainly. It has finally hit me ,after days of incredible indifference to the fact that I am leaving for five months. All alone. Because I am nervous, I am contemplating strange things, like what being ‘alone’ means to me. I generally enjoy some sense of solitary when I am around large numbers of people, like at school or when I am on a plane. However this time, I am yearning for anything and anyone as I sit in my empty 3 seat row. Now don’t get me wrong, I am really happy, ecstatic actually, that I have a whole row to myself so I can lie down and sleep for the next 6 hours. However, part of me is questioning, “What are you thinking?! What the actual is wrong with you?! You’re a closet homebody and you want to leave for a month alone in Bolivia and Guatemala? You can’t even speak Spanish beyond a survival level. Oh my gosh.” A brief announcement has just sounded over the intercom that we will be leaving soon…I continue to question my sanity until I finally get into the air and am forced to realize that there is no going back. Thus, a more positive pep talk is ensuing as we are now racing down the runway. It is surprisingly calming me down. True to form, I am ready at the last possible second… We are now in the air and I am finally starting what I am sure is going to be a life changing month.