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.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

500, 26 hours, 600 minutessssss

HOOOOOOW DO YOU MEASURE, MEASURE A YEAR!? In condoms distributed? In boxes of wine drank? In international phone calls? In testing campaigns? In the number of solo dance parties or times I have watched Rent?

Welp, it’s been a year since leaving the land of the free, I feel like I should have something epic to say or some profound motivational tear jerking story, but I don’t. I took a nap today, that was pretty epic.

Today is also my sisters birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY KATY!!! Also give a shout out to Papa, miss you! 
So one year ago I arrived in Jozi, struggled to carry my bags while sweating and wearing a stupid business casual outfit. We arrived in Mokopane to a group of singing and dancing people, I was exhausted and greasy. I felt like I should soak in all this wonderful culture but really all I wanted was to get in the shade, bathe, and go to bed. 

The last year has not been what I expected, but what ever is? Adjusting to food, fetching water, bucket baths, latrines, bugs, and transportation issues were very easy to get over. I feel like I have adapted to ‘village life’ fairly easily. The things I find difficult are hard to explain- and not being able to explain things to friends and family back home is one of the hard parts. I find it very difficult to work with the group of people at the organization I was assigned to. Gender, race, age, and language are just the tip of the ice berg. I walked into Peace Corps with all sorts of formal education, damnit I have my Masters of Public Health- I know things- then realized the org doesn’t need someone with an MPH, they need me to take viruses of their computers and someone to explain what a ‘goal’ is. The organization doesn’t need me, they need a new manager that doesn’t steal money, or blame others for the lack of function at the org, a coordinator that does his job and doesn’t abuse his position, and just plain doesn’t suck at life. Not sure where my MPH comes in there? I have zero experience in management or NGO development, but hey I am a resourceful person and know how to use google. 

After I discovered how much money is ‘missing’ from the organization (and also knowing where it went) and several situations of management blatantly dis respecting me, I decided I didn’t really want to work there anymore. So, I don’t think I will. I am starting to work at the clinic, which is very exciting! Health education, planning health campaigns, and working directly with people on prevention- that is more like it!
So was this last year a waste? Of course not. I will still go into the org probably one day a week and work with the kids and caregivers because I am hard headed and can’t let go of that part of the org. Just because some people suck, doesn’t mean the kids don’t deserve a better place to go! After being here a year I completely understand why our service is two years. It has taken me this long to get a better understanding of what is going on. It has taken the year to really understand the culture and how the history of this country has moulded the people today. I have also had small success at the org and the World AIDS Day event was pretty successful. 

Not only will I be changing where I will be working, but I recently moved homes. I hated my last housing, and there is no questions that Peace Corps should not have put me there in the first place. I, however, got rather complacent and it took me being scared for my safety to finally demand a move. I am now living with a very friendly family and very happy. The young girl has woken me up far too early several times for various reasons, but I still like her. I also have to now cross a river to get to work, which has proven to be eventful, but makes the day more fun!

The year has definitely had its ups and downs. I have had plenty of days where I wonder ‘’what the hell am I doing here” and others when I think I will never want to leave. Some of the best experiences have not been saving lives and bonding with a family (I wish, and now a potential since i live with a fam) but have been the other PCVs I have met, what I have learned about myself, and small conversations/activities with community members. Who knew I would travel half way around the world with intentions to help a community and absolutely fall in love with other Americans? Many of the other PCVs I have met are amazing and inspiring! I also have a lot of time in my own head, I think the mix of mid-twenties, first time not in school, and being thrown in a crazy different environment has forced me to do so much self-reflection that I am really sick of myself. 

Do I hate it? No, actually I love it. I love the challenge, it is not easy or glamorous but it is worthwhile. The work I am doing is hard to quantify, I do not see a lot of results. That is one reason why it is hard for us to talk about what we are doing, or having a lot of really satisfying experiences. But I know the girls who now know that abuse is, in fact, illegal is a start for something positive. Or now the caregivers know how to properly use a condom, they will hopefully teach others, that is also a start. I can give a lot of small stories like that, but most of the day to day things are difficult to explain.

So what is next? Well, I love LOVE my girls club, they are hilarious and beautiful. They also have so much potential and a thirst for knowledge- so I will continue to work with them. I will grin and bear the org once in a while, trying to get some people to quit, and give others training so they have little excuse to not do their jobs. Another volunteer and I want to start a way for learners who are about to matric to get internship, teach them how to apply to schools/scholarships, and set up a way for them to apply for jobs. With several other PCVs, we will put on a camp for young girls and teach them how awesome it is to be a young female. At the clinic I will be doing all sorts of health ed, but my goals there are, before I leave, to have a functioning and sustainable HIV support group, peer educators, and a support/educational group for young mothers. I also got pretty involved with Peace Corps stuff and am the chairperson for the Diversity committee and helping train SA 25 so I think I will stay busy. Who knows, maybe I’ll run another marathon… 

I guess I have done more than take naps and read Harry Potter.

1 comment:

  1. I love you Sami... I can't wait til we get to have drinks after all this :-)