So, I did it. 1 calender year. 365 days. 52 weeks.
While I haven't been an officially sworn in Peace Corps volunteer for 1 year (that happens in May), I have been living here in Senegal for a year.
I remember how tough the first few months of being here were for me, but I also now that I don't have to do it again (hurray). Which doesn't mean that there will be fewer stumbling blocks, just my ability to take what comes with greater stride. I can now predict what will happen in the future, because I have been here before! I know what the weather will be like in the next coming months (hot, hott, and hotter). I know that a new group of Trainees are in Washington at this very moment waiting to arrive. I know that the work load will be greater, and time will go faster. I know that starting August 1st, my life will be consumed with fasting and reading. Then the rains will come. Before I know it, I will have to start planning for my life AFTER Peace Corps. This year felt like an insurmountable mountain to climb before reaching the peak, and in the next few weeks, I will begin my descent. Some of my favorite people will be leaving to head off on their new adventures: Grad school, jobs, and travelling.
While hitting this milestone is important as a PCV, it is also the time when you get that feeling that you are tightening the reigns on your projects, and the ability to actually 'do work' is now made easier. But also, knowing exactly how to plan that work time around the American holiday celebrations, and large regional projects that now fall upon the year-in people to organize and run. I also feel much less guilty about having fun... See the end of the post about the West Africa Invitational Softball Tournament.
And about that work, which is moving along swimmingly thank you for asking. I had my first Health Committee meeting. The members have committed both money and time to improving my health facility. Tomorrow I will be collecting the first moneys for a new fence. They are starting the search for a new volunteer to help handle the work load. The people who work there now, will start bi-monthly trainings with the NGO World Vision this month. And finally, the long talked about mural series, will also begin this month at their request.
I am helping at with the local bed-net distributions by organizing an educational series to go along with it. We travel to weekly markets and talk about ways to not only take care of your nets, but other effective ways to protect against malaria (neem lotion, environmental controls). I will hopefully do follow-ups to these tournees in August around the rainy season, and complete adherence surveys.
I recently returned from a reproductive health training series for middle schoolers, arranged by another volunteer, Stephanie Schumsky. I plan on replicating this in my village middle school, on a smaller scale.
I am sure there are many more things I can talk about, but will have to wait until next time. Enjoy my lagniappe about WAIST 2011. And don't forget to donate!!