Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The ups and downs of the Village days

What a week. what a few weeks! I spent the middle of Jan. in Iringa at a seminar about PEPFAR-and I got to bring a counterpart..a teacher from my school. and, i know i brought the right one. I have never seen a more aggressive Tanzanian! The day afte we got back, he asked when we could start our HIVAIDS projects...he started writing proposals, started asking around for speakers to come....its wonderful! I'm very encouraged. The day after I returned to my village, I started teaching. started at least. I was exhaused from staying up late at night with my friends and getting up early...a wise person once told me you should never soar with the eagles and fly with the! I got a new housegirl Monday also because Florida is now at school-struggling with her Enlish. Ester is an amazing 17 year old girl, with a baby, who helps cook chai and lunch, do my laundry and help weed my garden. Soon my veggies I planted will be ready!!!! Fresh produce will be so great! A requirement I made to Florida, who I'm helping go to school is that she comes over everday after school to practice Enlish. This has become one of the most daunting tasks I have faced yet. Its like talking to a brick wall somedays! but she is trying so heart goes out to the new form one students. I have been allowed to teach a few BAseline classes-the intro to english, 6 week crash course-and im getting a really positive response. Physics is interested-the first day thre were 40 students, and then th 2nd day, there were also 40 studnets, but half of them were new. then the third day I had about 70 students. I can't get it straight! what is going on?! Maybe next week it will iron itself out. I've introduced Sudoku to my students-they ahve to complte it by the following week to get extra credit on their homework...and they are SO into it! My class uses protractors and rulers in all ts calculations, yet there are only about 5 rulers and 2 protrctors for ALL my studnets, so i have deided to start a program where there first person to complete the puzzle and give it to me will get a prize-ruler/protractor/pencil/notebook.....out of my pocket. Its the best I can do. The weekend after my irst week of school, I went to visit my Mzungu neighbors(the othr white people in the area). I spent the weeken discussing plans to better the district ith hospitals, orphangages, computer labs...these people are actually doing it too. I am inspired every time I talk to these people. And then, besides talking about our aspirations, we went canoeing, played croquet, went hosebackriding, watched movies...i took a HOT BATH!!!!!!!(when the heck is the last time i got to do that?! Water was yellow, but it was hot! Thats so amazing to me! and i was in a bathtub-haven't seen one of those since I left the US! Mr Fox has been an inspiration to me, and i really think that if I start working with him, we can combine our resources and get some groudn shaking in our community. He introduced me to a couple running a program called Village Schools...they have /will build 12 schools in my area and have started an amazing English program in the Primary schools so maybe when the students get to secondary school they will actually understand things and Pass with B's and A's instead of D-'s. The woman in charge is up to her ears in HIVAIDS work-if anyone in the area is tested positive for HIV and shows here the doctors note, she will give them bus fare every month so they can go to a nearby village to get free ARV's. Their family lives about a hour bike ride away from me...and are some of the most energetic people I have met. I'm going to discuss some HIV projects/English projects I want to start in my village with them this weekend! So this weekend was a HIGH..great ideas, great foods, great friends.....I was ready to get the balls rolling. Then Monday came aroun and i went to the hospital, saw the facility. There is one nurse running the entire thing, day in day out. The doctr had already left for the day, and the other nurse had left because her child had died. The maternity ward had 4 beds, no sheets no blankts...pnes of glass missing from the window. The largest baby there was almost 3Kilos....the other two in there were what I would call preemies. SO SMALL. The woman who was almost in labor didn't even look pregnant. These ladies starve themsleves because there are no drugs to be had...or they can't fford them. So, the samller teh baby, the less painful. Which creates sickly babies. I left, after tourin the entire factiliy, wanting to cry. My heart just hurt. And of course, I had to offer to ehlp on the weekends/ can I just enjoy my weekends when I see somethig like that happening!? Then Tuesday rolled around. i am training to be Teacher on Duty-to make sure all students are behaving properly, that they go to class, come to school on time, that th boarders don't have problems, etc....and I'm being trained by 2 other teachers. I tlked tot hem both about how I didn't like corporal punishment and how maybe this week we might be able to try different forms of puishment and not the stick. Well, one listened to me, the other idn't. The Form 4 students that are the 'leaders', making sure that other students clean the grounds in the morning apparently didn't do good enough job. So kthe one teacher takes out her stick. I had to walk awaw. I got the other teacher, and he grabbed the other students before they were hit, and I set them up with helping me in the library, organizing books and papers. I still felt so guilty...even though I didn't hit those students, i couln't stop them from being hit. Any suggestions on what I could do? I suggested detention, library duties....but i dont think my ideas are flying very well.....

So, I have a millin and one projects I'm working on....thanks for all you letters and packages, they keep me going. love you all

Saturday, January 13, 2007

My wonderful life

Ok, so I know I haven't updated this in a while... but my oh my has my life been busy! In the not-stressed-out-wonderful-I'm learning-too-many-things kind of busy. I have been going to the shamba(the farm feild) with some teachers to learn to hoe beans and corn....and my skin is not meantfor this work, let me tell you all that much. blisters up the wazoo.. not to mention I get to wear these unbelievably sexy green rubber goloshes that go up to the middle of my shin:) I have successfully moved into my house and made it my own, I have found a young girl to help me in my house...NO, it is not child labor, I am paying her school fees, buying her school uniform in exchange for her help in my garden and to wash my dishes and clothes on the weekends only. During the week she has to focus on school! Her name is Florida...she is 15, and I will tell you all, this whole house girl process is SO odd for me. At first I didn't trust her, because I have been taught to beware of my belongings here, that poor people try to steal at any opportunity....everything was going well-she speaks no english, I speak kiswahili not so great, and her native tribal language of Kihehe I only can say the greetings. SOooooo, the going was rough, but we got going! She makes an incredible bread!(and since I cannot buy any in my village, its much appreciated!) A friend came to stop buy my village to say hello, a fellow peace corps volunteer from the area, and we got back to discover some money was missing...she also had had friends in my house when I wasn't there. Which was a very uncomfortable situation to have, especially since I am new, I can't tell her exactly what I want to say but have to rely on other people to translate...but you can't translate the tone of voice you want to get across, which stinks! We told her that God knows if she or her friend stole that money, that if it was returned there would be no problems, that if she says that she did not take the money, I beleived her, and that she was on probation with me. No beatings...just a lecture. There have been no other problems. BUT, maybe this is Karma?, she was walking in my house the other day while it was very rainy, slipped while carrying a pot of bioling water, and burnt he leg pretty badly. I didn't realize how poor and desperate her situation was until that day. I sent her to the hospital b/c she had developed a HUGE blister on her thigh (for only $2 she was treated!!!)I went to visit her at her home, seeing as that is the custom in AFrica...altough, really all you want to do when you are sick is NOT to have people visit, curious isnt it? She lives in a mud hut. They cook in the same hut they sleep in which is no bigger than half of my living room in Kansas for those of you who know my old house. its smoky, hard to breath, no windows and has a thatch roof. Her mother is unable to walk, uneducated, her father is also sickly....I felt sick to my stomach. To think that I felt uncomfortable at one point with her eating my food and wanting to live with me! She eats the same thing everyday..and only one meal a day! I made a resolution then, at that moment, that she would be mine to help. I can't garden-she grew up gardening. I can help her with Englsih, she can't speak it. Part oif my deal for her is that she has to come to my house everyday after school and practice speaking elngish. everyday M-F!!! I think it will ehlp!So, if any of you feel like paying $20/year to send a kid to school, karibu! anything you want to donate, send cash to me at my address. There are so many kids desperate for an education, and no money to even buy a notebook or a school shirt:(

I think in my village I have had a breakthrough. I am actually considered a villager now, no longer the crazy white MZUNGU! All the little kids...and there are thousands I swear!....know my name and shout and wave at me until they can't see my anymore everyday. I have befreinded the ladies at the dukas-they love to tease me, braiding my hair, painting my nails,asking why I wear a bra because apparently my boobs are too small and I am not nursing(awwwww, ouch!) :) I brought an American music CD from some friends to the Duka, had a dance party in front of everyone with all the kids, and I think that won their hearts over:) It was an AWFUL CD...think Gay Bar from the 80's.....'the rains down in AFrica', the 'thong song', 'loveshack', etc. They LOVE that kind of music! 50 cent is the biggest guy over here-he should really thinki of doing a show here, I think the country would shut down!

Yesterday, I had the funniest village experience. I have decided to run the International Run for Peace in Rwanda in May, making it a girls empowerment event, getting students and teachers to form a small group, I want us to find a sponser in the US to help fund our way there...its to benefit all the fmailies from the Rwandan genocide. Whats cool is that many of these kids NEVER get to even leave their village because they have so little money. so this will get the girls doing sports, same as the boys, AND they get to travel. It will be awesome, but the plans have just began forming.....SO, anyways, I was jogging by the monestary by my house, at a time I thought not many people would be there. BOY was a wrong! I started jogging a couple laps with some guys in the community that play soccer everyday. Well, they kice=ked my butt! They are fast! Tehn, I walked a lap, ran 2 more laps, walked another one, said hello to a friend I had made who was working on a bridge near my house and from god know where I had about 15 kids surrounding me. 15 turned into 27...27 into 40...and within a matter of seconds, I was surrounded my 68+ shildren. I am kidding you not, I counted the stationary ones. There were others running around. All eyes on me, wanted to touch me, but afriad! So, of course I had to talk with them...I invited them to run a few laps with me, and a chorus erupted! I was the Pied Piper of these children...Imagine a tall white girl running with 20+ short skinny african kids trailing behind and others cheering and laughing along....I couldn't help luaghing! I couldn't imagine what a spectical it looked like.Then, as icing on the cake, they all decided to walk me home. ALL of them:)What a trip! I can't wait for you guys to come here and see what I experience...its too great!

School starts next week, this week I am at a conference learning about PEPFAR(presidents emergancy plan for Aids Releif), and then I start in on the Physics! God save me!

So, all is well, I'm adjusting into my community well, I can cook really yummy soups/breads/desserts....ALL by scratch out Betty Crocker! I'm pretty amazing:) My paca is good-i think he thinks he is a dog, he heels! walks with me wherever I go-to the dukas, do watch the news everynight(which is ehlping me improve my kiswahili a LOT).....

ANyways, I miss you all! this is a great week to call because I'm in a town with phone reception! My love to you all!