Wednesday, December 26, 2012

World AIDS day and stuff

Yeah, it been a while!! I have lots to say on many different topics. FIRST: World AIDS Day was December 1st and I held an event in my village with the help of a local NGO. The NGO provides education about HIV by using local tribal music (Warangi) and dancing, it was so cool. They also did skits, has a choir sing some songs, drum circle and had a PLWA meeting. About 100 people came to get tested, with the stigma being so high this was impressive. Overall it was a successful day with just a few expected minor annoyances. I also gave a speech in Swahili, it was terrifying.

SECOND: Development work is the most frustrating but rewarding work I have ever done. Sustainability is key with development work. For example, if I want to build a water tank in my village first I get a group of 6-10 motivated people in my village to be trained how the tank works, how to fix it if it breaks and to help build it. I apply for a grant help with the cost and the village government is also responsible for providing 25% of the cost which can be dirt, bricks, people for labor etc. With the above the village takes pride in the project that they helped work for, people gain skills and are empowered. However when you have large organizations/NGOS going into villages building water tanks (or anything) with no help from the village and minimal to no training provided villagers start to expect things to just come to them free of charge and labor. Also what happens when there is a problem with the water tank when minimal to no training is provided? The villagers sit around and wait for someone to come in and fix it, or just build another one, free of cost and labor. It is so extremely frustrating to try to do SUSTAINABLE work when people expect easy and free, with no sustainability. My view of foreign aid has completely changed. However when I see sustainable change done at the grassroots level that I had a part in the feeling of accomplishment is so rewarding it beats all the frustrations of development works and makes it worth the struggle.

THIRD:I bought this lemon lotion that smells so wonderful. I have never been a huge fan of lemon smelling anything and one day I realized the lotion smells like a typical American household cleaner. It dawned on me that I miss being and and just clean in general so much that I walk around all day smelling like a bottle of Mr Clean. I am okay with this and still use the lotion. In fact another volunteer smelled it, bought some and now uses it everyday as well. I MISS CLEAN.

FOURTH: I started a womens empowerment group in my village and they want to start a chicken project, buying selling chickens and eggs etc. to make money and improve their health as well as their families. The only problem with a chicken project is that more times then not when a volunteer tries to do one all the chickens die from newcastle disease or many other diseases. Once the first chicken dies they fall like dominoes. It involves a lot of training Its the kind of project that volunteers make fun of each other for doing and that we sort of all try to avoid. Well the women in the group are so motivated that I decided to man up and go for it. Wish me luck.

FIFTH: All eyes on me. I saw a mud flap on a bus that said this and it pretty much sums up my daily life here, in the village at least. No matter what I am doing I can feel the eyes following me. It's like living in a fish bowl. Soooooo I have started having a little fun with it. Like cartwheeling my way across the road, or tripping constantly, or having a conversation/argument with an invisible person beside me. The reactions from people are amazing. Peace Corps, the toughest job you will ever love? The answer to this is yes, 100%.

Merry Christmas.
I am on my way to Zanzibar to relax in paradise for a week then off the Mafia Island to SWIM WITH WHALE SHARKS.
OH, I also saw rain for the first time in 7 months!!!

1 comment:

  1. hi maria!! best of luck with the chickens!! :) it sounds like you're really making a difference over there!! you totes rock!!!!!! francine