4 January 2011- A New Year
So, to catch you up… 2010 went out like a lion! I had a robbery experience which ended with me losing everything: computer, cell phone, clothes, hiking backpack, 10 year old Nalgene L It was an experience which I wish upon no one, and hope to never have again. I am now at a heightened security and seem to trust less people who I pass on the street, a feeling I don't like but can't control. After that I went to my village only be stung by a scorpion and returned once again to Mzuzu for pain killers and antihistamines. At this point I realized I was not as tough as I liked to believe I was and found myself subject to a few breakdowns and moments of weakness. Curled up in a ball crying from pain, and for other reasons, I wanted to be home more than I have in the last two years. Needless to say, I was not in the holiday spirit with Christmas just two days away and sweat dripping off me.
At this point I pulled all my cards and became the moocher I hate so much. I stayed with expats and volunteers in Mzuzu and Nkhata Bay longer than any guest should. While my hosts never made me feel unwelcome I knew that I was outlasting the stay they had intended. Regardless, I needed some TLC and being with people I could relate to was the only medicine I could see which would bring me out of my stoop. So, we made sugar cookies, watched Christmas movies, had dinners and brunches, and cut snowflakes out newspaper. In the end I think Christmas came for a little bit, but went out just as quickly as it took substantial effort to feel anywhere near the holiday spirit. It also helped that a lot of this time was spent with two of the guys who were there at the robbery and I could use them as a crutch (I think a bit more than they used me). I am forever grateful to those who I spent Christmas with as I think it would have been quite difficult to make it through without them. Sophie, Devon- you're amazing! Laura, Lisa, Chelsea, Mia, KK, Ryan, Herman- Many Thanks!
Then for New Years, I re-entered into the Peace Corps family and spent three days lounging around with other PCVs. We played drinking games, swam off the heat, ate in local dives, and lounged like we had a hard day's work. Then for New Years Eve I helped a friend bartend at the local party spot with sporadic brakes for dancing and greeting friends. Then swimming when the sun came up! It was fantastic, but a tease as I return to the quite village.
I no longer want to live alone!
15 January 2011- Working in Usisya
Having been out of Usisya for some time, I found that I should jump into things and get my projects back on task. For that I essentially had to run around the villages and meet with people to see what they had accomplished in my absence. Sadly, these conversations ran short seeing as they had done very little without me over their shoulders encouraging progress. This is a bit disheartening, but also I hope they were really just waiting for me, and not being lazy. Things done in the last few weeks:
·Met with primary schools (Nthembo, Nkhutu, Sangano, Usisya) to sensitize them on the upcoming environmental clubs. The clubs will work with clean water, hygiene, and eco sanitation pit latrines (great for making compost), permaculture.
·Met with Primary Education Advisor (PEA) about working in the schools and communication regarding support from the community and teacher development leading up to the group formations.
·Met with Senior Health Surveillance Assistant (HSA) about upcoming projects in the area of health, and discussed possible community volunteers who would be helpful in the water area of things.
·Traveled to Kondowe to meet with primary and secondary schools which have AIDS Action clubs under Temwa (the local NGO). Had discussions with them about challenges and the way forward for the year. While, they haven't done much as of yet, they seem eager for the new year.
·Spent one night in Ruarwe living the hard life ;) Stayed in my own private chalet which had a porch perfect for jumping off in the morning and lounging around.
·Help meetings with the two Temwa staff working with the school clubs and made plans for the upcoming year.
·Received 200 nets from PSI (Population Services International) for distribution to ARV patients at the health center (thanks Peace Corps for coming through on this!)
All that mixed with cleaning my house, weeding my garden (which turned into a jungle), and reading 4 books … it's been quite busy. Enjoying the New Year (as those of you who know how difficult it is for me to just sit) and trying to just wrap up some of these things so that I can leave in a few months with a clear conscience.