This is not a paper I would turn into grad school that was proofread, spell checked, and cared about but never or barely read. This is a blog that people will actually read but not grade. I write like I think and talk, which is not organized or correct in many ways. I was diagnosed with chronic sarcasm as a child, its genetic.

The views expressed on this website are entirely my own and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The 'Dark Ages'

Luckily I have an amazing support network- most of us PCVs learned quickly not to rely on our counterparts or Peace Corps- but each other. I have several fellow PCV who I know I can always say something as simple as “he’s such an ass” or “just cried on public transport, again” and they will know exactly what and who I am talking about and how to make me feel better. I also know how big of a deal it is when another volunteer BBMs me royally pissed off because her markers are missing, there is a creche in her house, or someone f’d up a row of the garden. Because when you are having a bad month just stubbing a tow can spiral into a full melt down. 

And that is what I was having. A bad f’n month…which led to another…

It happens to most volunteers at least once in service, my friend recently referred to a couple months of my service as “the dark time”- I can laugh at it now because I feel like I have done a 180 and loving life. Peace Corps has this thing called the “Volunteer Life Cycle,” which I think is silly- but it tells us when we are supposed to be happy and when we are supposed to be miserable. My emotions and productivity have not really correlated to what they predict and considering I changed sites half way through my service I think my brain/cycle was extra screwed up. 

When talking to a fellow PCV who also had a long run of bad days prior to my dark time I tried figuring out what it was that caused mine, got me through it, and got me out of it. As I mentioned before, other volunteers were a key aspect. I share my shopping town with one other volunteer who I can say without hesitation has been one of the best influences I have had in South Africa and also my life. He is not only great because I get zero harassment in town when I am with him (sure, we’re married…) or because we can cuss like well traveled sailors and have a couple beers on a Tuesday afternoon before facing the taxi rank again, but he is also great because he is a friend. It is incredibly helpful for both of us to be able to talk about village life face to face- and more importantly non village life face to face… It sucked I had to move sites, and sucks that the new site is actually more problematic than the last- but the silver lining is I now have Sean as a shopping town mate, great mentor and friend. 

So where was I going with this? Oh right, dealing with crappiness and what helps. Keeping busy and not lying in bed watching a whole TV series in a weekend is one place to start and another for me is working out. Being busy with training and my kids was at times stressful but definitely helped me enjoy site. However, if I only worked out and worked I don’t think I would be feeling this great. I cannot stress enough how lucky I am to be a part of this Peace Corps community, I have made such amazing friends from different walks of life. Some of the people I consider my best friends range from a 24 year old fresh out of college male to a 70 year old woman- with a huge range in between. I love that I talk to a woman who is older than my mother (I suppose could be my grandmother) as a friend. No reservations, just real talk. 

My Peace Corps family has helped in ways that I could never actually explain. It is an unconditional love, support, and understanding that would normally come from years of close friendship. We were all thrown in this weird alternate reality where we saw each other at our worst before we saw the best. We literally all had horrible diarrhea the first full day in country, it was an ice breaker- we cried, we laughed, we freaked out- we were a little crazy...

It seems like after I would get past one challenge another one would slap me in the- so it was my friends who gave me the courage, confidence, and strength to slap back. Whether in Peace Corps with a less than perfect situation or in the states, bad days happen, bad months and sometimes years happen. I think the difference might be that in PC it is pretty much guaranteed. I am so grateful for my PC family- SA23 and my friends from the other group, this really has been the hardest but most amazing experience of my life. And I love SA23!!!!

Condoms with Gogos and a Slip N Slide

September and October were insane, I went back to the USA and had amazing family time, got back to RSA for a week long camp GLOW, then went to the city for a committee meeting where I gladly retired from being chair of the Diversity Committee to only have to take on the role two weeks later when both the new chair and secretary left early from Peace Corps to go home. Then November rolled around, I was ecstatic for the election and denying my birthday. The South African Postal System went on strike, so I was out of two of my medicines as they are sent from the Peace Corps office. I figured I could handle some of the discomfort and the ones I was out of I can live without- I thought toughing it out was the PC thing to do. When I started putting more energy into Community Health Worker trainings and I was getting back to my normal site pattern I got sick. Apparently consistent vomiting, blood where it shouldn’t be, and not being able to eat was cause for concern. 


All of a sudden I had to leave site (again), my supervisor was not at all sympathetic and I felt not only sick but incredibly guilty for leaving my GLOW girls and the community health workers (zero guilt leaving my sup he can type CV’s on his own). 

The PC officer was pretty sure I either had Schistosomiasis or ulcers, either way I had to go to the city. I self diagnosed myself with ulcers, I’ve had GERD since age 10 and with my meds screwed up it was the obvious culprit. After a couple poo and blood tests the med officer ruled out Schisto- so I was treated for ulcers. After about 10 days I could keep food down and was on my way back to site. Yay! 

At this point my countdown for holiday and for being done with Peace Corps was in the front of my mind. Time was flying and I had to make sure to make the most of everyday, even if I had little motivation or will for the org (primary project) and just wanted to work with my kids- I knew I needed to at least try AGAIN at doing something meaningful with the NGO. I continued doing CHW (community health worker) trainings that I had been doing weekly, focusing on HIV and basic health care. I started doing the trainings because they asked me to, and there was an obvious need. Randomly the project manager demanded I train them every day, at first I thought maybe this was a good sign? Was he suddenly interested in the well-being of our clients and wanted to make this a legitimate organization? Awoa!! NOPE! My silly optimism tricked me once again, he wanted to punish the CHWs because he knew they weren’t working all day and I had a sneaky suspicion he wanted to punish me because as other projects of mine grew I had less time to sit and be his secretary. After several painful conversations it was clear that I would not 1)do these trainings daily (for a lot of reasons) and 2)I would not do them by myself (although I was predicting that is exactly what would happen).

I made a schedule of what I would be able to do and explained how and when I would need help. I enjoy the CHWs and I enjoy facilitating these trainings, I was not angry I had to do them, I was angry at the lack of support from the people who are supposed to be my counterparts and the fact that I was their punishment.
It is frightening how little many of the caregivers knew about HIV and frustrating that I had to beg the managers to help me translate -to only have them walk away a quarter through my training to go back inside to watch movies on the new laptop. I was pissed at the fact this is supposed to be my primary project, but as my anger wore off I started having fun. These frustrations were not new nor were they a surprise, but still legitimate frustrations. The Gogos (old women) and I would laugh, talk about sex, laugh, talk about the weather, laugh at my attempts at Sotho, dance, laugh at me dancing, talk more about sex, abuse, alcoholism, and HIV, and laugh more. Sex talks are always educational, prevention/transmission of STIs/HIV or biology- it’s not like we are talking about sex like we’re at brunch after a walk of shame or something - just clerifying.
So there I was, punishing the CHWs because they don’t work all day (does anyone?) and trying to catch up on several trainings I canceled because I was on medical hold while also continuing with my other projects. That countdown to holiday was also ticking away and my guilt for leaving for a month was getting the best of me. I decided to do trainings 4 days per week and meet with my GLOW girls officially (structured lessons) twice a week and unofficially once per week. I was busy, but happy. 

Then I bought a large sheet of plastic I use as a Slip n Slide. SJO!!! I am lucky to have a running tap in our yard so I figure I might as well beat the heat with some fun. As the kids were running around and I was sweating like a hooker in church- I got the plastic out. I put some dish soap on it and they kids began to stare are me like the crazy lekgowa I am. I dumped some water on the plastic, took a few leaps back, ran and dove on the plastic. I flew past the kids not stopping when the 4 metres of plastic stopped….and ended up in the mud. GAME ON!!!!! Before I could rinse the soap out of my eyes Surprise and Boy Boy were in their underwear playing. Within ten minutes the yard was full of children screaming and running around. It was, hands down, the best purchase I have made at site. Better than a kettle or wet wipes- seriously!
The next couple weeks were beyond crazy- but great. I was obsessed with a workout competition amongst a group of my friends so was working out regularly, training going as well as possible, GLOW continuing strong (despite exams at school), and having a blast with the kids. Since school was pretty much done I didn’t have to harp on them about homework, we could just play in the water and make jewelry! The best!
The day before I was to leave for SA 23s Close of Service Conference I had a party for my GLOW girls- then opened it up to all the neighbor kids. It was an amazing day with tons of beads, dancing, slip n sliding, pizza, cold drink, and some small gifts. I was very happy to leave for the conference then off on holiday on such a high note. Although I did get a little choked up saying bye, which shows what a mess I am going to be when I say bye for good-but I’m not thinking about that right now! It was an amazing end of the year and now I am back at site trying to stay as busy and productive before my final departure in 6 weeks! 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

CAMP GLOW!!! Condom races and musical chairs!

It was AWESOME!!!! I am not sure how to fully explain all of the awesomeness but overall it was a success. The girls had a great time, learned a lot, our venue was great, and we had fun.
Basic set up of camp:

Four PCVs each raised money and planned camp- me, Cate, Ethan, and Andrew. We each brought girls form our communities totally 32 girls ages 15-17 (ish). Two of these PCVs were male, therefore were mostly invisible during camp as this camp was all about empowerment and leadership for young women. It was important for us to create a safe and comfortable environment for these girls to learn, ask questions, and grow- therefore it was all female. We still took full advantage of the boys free time by having them help prep (blow up condom balloons, rinse tye die t shirts, etc) and had one session about 'inside a boys head'. We also had four other PCVs come help as counselors, and they were phenomenal! Kristina, Stephanie, Linda, and Teresa took time out of their schedules to be pretty much ‘big sisters’ to the girls. We split the group of girls into four teams and each counselor was the leader of one team. This was a huge help when we talked about sensitive topics and needed smaller group discussions. They also made sure the girls went to bed on time, lead energizers, made sure their girls were showing up, and just made sure everything was running smoothly. Cate and I facilitated all of the sessions and although we had a lot of fun with the girls our role was more of the serious teacher role.

We found it incredibly helpful to have each counselor be responsible for 8 set girls, and build a relationship within that team. Each team sat together, had bunks in the same area, and competed against other teams. We assigned colours for the teams but then with the help of the counselors they named their team, we had team green, The African Queens; Red, Superwomen; Blue, indestructible blue?; and yellow, Yellow Fever. Not only did we keep things running smoothly by screaming “LAST TEAM BACK DOES PUSHUPS” or “FIRST TEAM READY GETS FIVE POINTS!” but we ended on a fun note with a GLOW Decathlon.

We had a jam packed schedule with lessons ranging from the immune system, healthy relationships, HIV transmission and prevention, condom use, abstaining, early pregnancy and economics, myths & facts of HIV, peer pressure and negotiation, sex, goal setting, aaaand bunches of other stuff. We related pretty much every session to good decision making and HIV while trying to make them as fun and interactive as possible. One of the most important things for us was to continually empower these young women and make sure they know they have the right to choose.

Empowerment is a tricky thing, it’s great to talk about- but how do you empower a group? Especially a group of young females in a society where women are marginalized, there are few positive role models, and abuse and rape are so high many people consider it normal. I am no expert, I have just been pretty much guessing at everything I have done for the last 21 months (thanks for the great trainings, PC, not) but from my humble opinion information is the most important. Any theory regarding behavior change involves knowledge so I figure that is a pretty good place to start. But, these kids have information thrown at them all the time. School usually involved a teacher talking or them copying notes from a book- that is if there is a teacher- so we had to be strategic with presenting information. Then of course you have to take information a step further. Motivation. Give them a reason to use the information we are giving them and possibly make some changes in their lives. I find it is not that difficult to pump the girls up, just be excited tell real life stories, show how hard work pays off- but then they need the tools. So not just telling them not to have sex or do drugs, but giving them the tools to say no, fight peer pressure, and ways to negotiate. Not just tell them to be faithful and use a condom, but show what happens when people have many sexual partners and exactly how to use a condom properly.

Condoms were one of the biggest hits. We blew them up, we popped them, we raced to see who could put a condom on a cucumber the fastest (and properly), and we had them practice. Condom demonstrations are fun, debunking myths of them being too small (ha) and having them handle both female and male condoms so they are not scared is interactive and incredibly important. This is just one more way of giving the girls the information and power to make healthy decisions.

I think another favorite for some girls was taking the girls to the river. That was fun, but exhausting. Many of these girls had never been in water over their head and being in a river caused a little chaos. I had to revert back to my lifeguarding and swim teaching days and lay down the law a couple times, but it was worth it.

Another huge plus for me was hanging out with other PCVs. It was wonderful feeling productive and like I was doing something that matters for the girls, but it would not have been possible if the 8 of us were not able to come together. I have a feeling if PCVs were able to collaborate more often or placed closer together all of our services would be so much better. Pulling off this camp was stressful and a lot of work, but so worth it! So thanks again to everyone who donated, wouldn’t have been able to do it without you!



Thursday, October 11, 2012

Some Perspective

WELL, America was wonderful. It was pretty much the same as when I left but my parent’s house was different, niece was talking (a lot) I had a nephew & many other babies in the fam, and a lot of political ads.

A lot of people were asking if it was weird, or if I was overwhelmed, or was I angry there is so much ‘stuff’- and really, no. Home will always be home. Do I think there is too much unnecessary stuff, DUH! of course, but I thought that before leaving. Some of my perspectives are a bit different but I did not have a break down in the grocery store when I saw several different kinds of lettuce or a whole isle of delicious cereals, I laughed a little and was super grateful.  That probably sums most of it up, I laughed a lot and was super grateful. Oh, but America is really vein- is it really necessary to have mirrors all over-not cool! But with that vanity comes pretty people- the first thing I noticed along with all the English when I got to the ATL airport was how clean and put together everyone was…besides me. And I do not like automatic flush toilets, also not cool- the one in the airport really got me.

Although I felt like I relaxed a lot, I actually did a lot. Several sleep overs with G, bachelorette party, wedding, family party, Emmett’s first birthday, sleep over with Mal, exercise and coffee with Brit and shawn, night with Nat, not one but TWO nights with Hill, Fiesta Charras w the crazies, meeting SO MANY BABIES- it was great. I didn’t get to see everyone but I enjoyed the time I did spend with everyone. I learned babysitting two children is way more intense than one (sorry about the black eye E) and above all family time is the most important. Just walking around Kohls with my sister and mom, Meijer’s with my dad, pumpkin ale with my brother, watching Mugsy be a multi tasking bomb ass mom- hot tubbing, sleepovers and family dinners which led to doing nothing in the family room- that was the best.

The wedding, which I guess was the catalyst that got me home- was great. Maggie looked stunning and I think we all had a rock’n good time. I was glad I was in the bridal party so I didn’t have to think about what to wear- and can I get an AMEN that the dress fit?! Whoop whoop!!! I am very VERY happy for Matt and Mags, and am so happy to welcome Matt into this crazy group we call family. It was also relieving to feel like I could slip right back in the family even though I have missed a lot, so- thanks for welcoming me with open arms! J

I felt a bit overwhelmed whenever I tried explaining anything because there really is no explaining my life- especially without sounding angry or cynical. At times I was probably too honest, and other times I was probably straight up lying and perpetuating the romantic idea of what everyone likes to think of our lives, but hey- that’s the shorter conversation (‘oh yeaaa its great, I love it, people are so nice, I hug babies’). But the truth is somewhere in the middle of hating it and loving it, I guess I am not really even sure how I feel about everything.

I feel more motivated after visiting home. I am in the home stretch of being here and ready to rock n roll! It is natural to talk more about successes rather than failures, so through talking to people I was reminded of all of the things I have done. Yes it is true, my language sucks and I have watched a lot of movies- but I realized I have actually done some legit stuff. To me some of the successes really aren’t that big of a deal- so what I did my job- but maybe if I felt a little more, I guess, proud of myself, and cut myself some slack I would enjoy the little things more. I would have more energy, hope, and motivation to do more.

 So. Here I go. Cutting some slack.

Bottom line. My family is amazing. I can’t express that enough, I am very very very lucky to have my family and friends in my life. So, thank you to everyone I saw and helped me not only raise money for camp GLOW but reminded me why I am doing what I am doing.

Ke a leboga.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My Moms visit!!!

This is incredibly outdated, i kept wanting to put pictures in it but that takes much more internet strength than is possible... maybe soon
Blog july 7 2012

Its been about a week and a half since Mamma Spud has been rock’n & roll’n in South Africa! It started June 28th with my tired eyed bun headed self waiting at the arrival terminal in OR Tambo international airport. Her flight landed at 720 am, meaning I had to leave the backpackers at 545am to catch a train to take me to the airport from Pretoria. I got to the meeting place at 715am and was more anxious than I remember ever being on a Christmas eve or election day (maybe). A load of people exited the sliding glass doors of freedom, it was fun to see so many hugs, smiles, and kisses- and even better because that meant the good waiting spots were starting to clear up. I sat back with my coffee watching people struggle pushing their luggage through the doors to finally reach the point their loved ones could come and help them, and watched some confused tourist look through the many people holding small signs while they looked for their name on a sheet of paper, clearly having no idea what company their travel agent booked them through and where they are going now. As the flight trickled in and people left I was able to find a perfect waiting spot against the barrier, near the edge so I had easy access to step around but clear view of the glass doors.

Then, I waited. I watched other people run to each other and hug, little kids running and jumping- and couldn’t help but cry. I was so so so excited, happy, anxious, and nervous I couldn’t help but be a bit overwhelmed. 730, 750, 800, 830… jesus mom get here! Her plane was landed and according to the info board overhead it said everyone had disembarked. As the people trickled in the tapping on my foot and biting of my nails increased and I began imagining my mom at customs not being able to remember where we were going. Or maybe one of the suitcases full of donations was lost- ah! I was so nervous!

Finally a little lady pushing a big cart appeared, I stared at her and wasn’t sure at first if it was my mom. She looked confused, so it must be. I began to run to the doors (security is a bit…lax) and I think I scared the crap out of her. We were both surprised to see each other, actually I think my mom was still confused at who was hugging her. Apparently she didn’t realize she was already through customs and was shocked to see me. Ha. We may have caused a small scene, but I think we did our excitement justice.

I did not give my mom time to rest- we had a lot to do and I had some work to finish up before I could relax. We took the Guatrain to the best place in Pretoria, Khayalethu- the backpackers where I’ve spent more time than I should admit. But the people here are more of a host family than I have in the village, so my mom had to experience it! Since we had to rearrange suitcases and get my mom settled we stayed in the private guest house rather than the dorms (fancy I know) and it was great! We showered and immediately headed downtown so I could turn in some paper work for my org to the department and went to the PC office so I could take care of some medical nonsense. Looking back that was a little cruel of me, but she saw a lot of my PC life right away. The office, experienced tea with KZ, met one of the PC head people, saw the general crappy shady-ness that is Pretoria, lack of customer service of the department of social development, we even stumbled on a police station to ask directions, and saw Bosman (my taxi rank when I travel in) and we rode the train again.

That evening was great, one of my dear friends also happened to be in PTA so the three of us had a very delicious and fun dinner, drank beer, and went through all the fun things my mom brought from home (And of course ate chocolate).

Cape Town

The next morning we took the Gautrain back to the airport and flew to Cape town, and Cape Town was just fab, well it became fab after I was done fighting with a taxi driver. We stayed at an adorable and very friendly backpackers called Amber Tree Lodge. It was very exciting because two other PCVs trip overlapped with ours so we were able to hang out with them for a couple of days. We had an amazing wine tour that was SO much fun! The four of us did a tour with AfricanStory and consumed a lot of wine, learned more than I ever needed to know about wine, learned I really DO NOT like brandy, and ate an amazing meal. We had a great tour group and seriously laughed the whole time! My mom and I also did a tour all around the city, and on another day did a tour around Cape Peninsula, and of course Table Mountain and Robben Island. It was the most touristy week either of us has ever had! Considering we only had 5 nights there and there is so much to do I’m glad we did things through tours. We could have definitely spent another couple days just hanging out and exploring the great food choices, but we still managed to get to the markets and eat a LOT of great food.

I was so excited with all the salad choices I think I think I ordered a salad every meal, it was wonderful. Our favourite was a place called Davinci’s on Long street and Fat Cactus on Park. Fat Cactus was a Tex-Mex place and it was great. The four of us had a hilarious time there, we showed up and the place was packed. Apparently there was some important rugby game on, so we waited at the bar for a table, naturally, we got a pitcher of margaritas and an appetizer. Margarita was excellent and so were are nachos. Our table was outside, it was cold, and the service was very slow. So obviously we ordered another pitcher of margaritas and another appetizer. My mom stuck to Corona so the three of us enjoyed our drinks- the best part was they gave us BLANKETS because it was cold. This place was the best. Then we got our burritos (probably after 2 hours) and instead of tortilla chips we got normal South African chips (French fries!) ha! Awesome.


July 20th – rest of the visit!!

Back to Limpopo

I was ready to head back, CT was great but I was out of my element. I was overwhelmed with the city and my lack of knowing how to get around, what best to do, and well, I guess just being a tourist. I was exhausted!

When we got back to Pretoria we stayed the night at Khayalethu before heading to Limpopo. It was pretty crazy because a LOT of PCVs were there for various reasons- but most because a group just got done with a training. So my mom met even more PCVs and heard a lot of random stories and I think hearing us all talk probably gave her a more intimate view of our lives than she normally would have not got. Luckily for us, it was Pizza night! My mom became BFFs with the Kreate Pizza crew and we had a nice evening with pizza and beer.

The next morning we picked up our rental car (later to be named PoloPot) and headed to Mokopane for Lunch at my old watering hole with Seth and Cate- my lunch mates when I lived there- then to Polokwane. Being back in Mokopane is always weird, I miss it in a weird way. Mainly miss the familiarity and my shopping town buddies (Cate, Seth, Elizabeth).

Polokwane was excellent, as always. We stayed at Lyndas site- as in, the Polokwane Game Reserve. Cate joined us and it was a party as three other volunteers were there. So including Lynda it was 7 of us celebrating 4th of July. We didn’t have fire works but we had a great BBQ, plenty of beer, and Lynda made homemade apple pie. My mom loved the reserve, because it was great and Lynda is the best host ever, duh! We enjoyed driving through the game reserve to see some game and also walking through it.

From Polokwane we went to Tzaneen for two nights. It was really nice and relaxing, and we saw the giant Baobab tree! That was an adventure in itself- just trying to find the damn tree! I got directions online which I should have known would be sketch, but after many turn arounds and dirt roads (where we prob should have had a 4 wheeler) we made it! The tree was, giant. Ha, it was really cool- but the hype of having a pub inside it was a bit false. There is a pretend bar inside, but whatever it was cool. My mom pointed out how it would have been much nicer is there wasn’t piles of wood next to it, and plastic signs on it- but hey, TISA! (This is South Africa)

After Tzaneen we went to Phalaborwa, the nearest town to where I live. We drove through Kruger which was tons of fun- and of course hilarious when we didn’t see ANY animals at first. We eventually saw a lot of elephants, zebra, smaller game (different gazelles and boks) giraffes, and hippos. The drive itself was also pretty fun.


It was really amazing spending time in the village with my mom, although it was a bit cramped in my little house and at one point we were both miserable because we were sick- it was wonderful! She was such a trooper! Of course she was great with the kids and they love her! I am very lucky to have had her here, she brought so many donations that will keep my arts and crafts fun times up for a long time! I wish I could borrow her brain and motivation! She had so many wonderful ideas she showed me, and seemed to have tons of energy to play and work with the kids. After being here this long I am tired. Very tired, so it was refreshing to have someone so…fresh! I wish I could have done more with her in the village while here, but the flu kept us down for a couple days – but I think I still managed to give her a glimpse of my life. She worked in the office with me and saw everyone else sitting and doing literally nothing for hours. She was asked very awkward questions and was begged for money/gifts. She saw the pure joy in the kids when you gave them something as little as a piece of paper and crayons. She saw why I am in love with my kids. She experienced the taxis- something I can never really describe. And I think she had fun, I am very – very grateful I was able to spend three weeks with my mom, doesn’t matter how old I am she will always inspire me and make me feel better. I already miss her L





Friday, June 22, 2012

Bored and Annoyed

Ok, so these are a outdated a bit and written when I was having a rough week.... whatevs!

Blog June 7th 2012

The schools here suck. Testing time has begun, which means it is like pulling teeth to get anything done, then, there is a three week break- then a new term. It is week one of testing and the school is already off the timetable, and no one really knows what is going on. The grade 8 and 9 classes didn’t get the tests on time, so they aren’t going to school- because why on earth would a teacher teach? Why would they want to make use of valuable class time? My org supervisor hasn’t been in the office all week, and it only takes so much time to argue with the cooks and explain how to divide the food to make it last 13 days instead of 6… I know the bottom line with that is when they cook too much food they get to take it home, then we run out at the end of the month, then no one has to come to work. In the words of the coordinator “It’s no problem, we’ll just close and not feed kids” yeaa… actually it is a problem… Our funder is pulling out at the end of the month anyway, so I don’t know why I continue to try and “build capacity”… capacity shmacity.
But, that is why I work with the schools. Department of Education is not exactly ideal, they are pretty horribly corrupt and the system is broken, but at least at the schools there is some resemblance of structure. I have also met a couple teachers who seem to be fairly motivated and want to expand the clubs/after school program so that is a plus… but it has to wait until mid July… 

The only productive thing I will do today is go to another organization and continue a nutrition/HIV lesson. It is funny how projects start, I was leaving the school when three women (the org is next to the school) came up to me and asked me to teach them. “Sure!” I said, then looked at the “homework” they had to do (I think from a class the Dept of Health is giving). The questions were pretty specific about nutrition and how to treat different kinds of patients, so I asked if they had a book. Nope. Notes? Nope. “Did the department give you anything? Any notes, or a manual, any book?” I asked, but nope, the department told them to research it. I suggested going to the library, but that would involve transport money… After a couple minutes I finally got the message across that I would not do it FOR them, but I would gladly prepare some lessons for them. They got excited and said they could open a classroom so I could teach… now… WHOAAA… I need to prepare! I knew most of what I needed to know, but I need more than five minutes to become a nutrition and diabetes expert. At least an hour… so anyway, I prepared a lesson and went to the org the next day and got through about one third of it before I knew it was time to stop. So today I will go back and hopefully the connection between carbohydrates, sugar, and diabetes is still clear. Then, apparently, I will be preparing a new lesson for next week (topics TBA-next week). 

So I have about three weeks until my mom gets here (YAY!!!), three long weeks. I will push through with going to the school and hoping some girls want to meet, being a food nazi and rationing the food so the kids can eat, and explaining the food pyramid (and too much pap does not make you strong, it makes you fat and diabetic) to the other drop in centre. What can I say, Peace Corps, saving the world since 1961.

June 13, 2012

Two weeks until my mom gets here, thank god! This week has been pretty crappy, thank goodness Wed in almost over. Peace Corps would make lives for the volunteers a lot easier if they would explain to our organizations that we are community volunteers, not pets of these non-functioning organizations. PCSA sure is providing a lot of very overqualified chair warmers and clerical worker. We are treated like children while simultaneously expected to work miracles. 

Today was particular frustrating, actually, it was the first time “maybe I should just leave” came through my mind as my first instinct, which considering the last year you’d think I would have thought that much earlier. As quickly as the idea of quitting came through my head it left. I don’t want to leave, I am just annoyed. I think because I had such excitement coming into this new site that when people do dumb stuff, lie, or are just lazy I am even more disappointed. At least at my last site I knew people were stealing money and they sucked, but now I have to go through all the disappointments all over again. 

Thank god for my girls. I am in love with the two little girls that live near me and I think when the new term starts my girls clubs will be great. My garden project is on hold until next season, but that’s ok- it will be better then- until then I am just hoping the Gogos don’t burn my compost pile…again. So after a rather frustrating day I got back to my house, snuck in the gate without my little girls seeing me, got in my house and shut the door hoping for some peace and quiet. As soon as I got my hair in a ponytail I hear shrieks of excitement and confusion at my door, the first thing I usually do is greet the girls and give big hugs- this shut door was new to them, and I felt way too guilty ignoring them. Five seconds after I opened the door I was giving big hugs and smiling, what can I say- I’m so PC.