"If I could walk 500 hundred miles, then I could walk 500 more"

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

DONATE HERE (before you read please please donate to my library project).

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!!
"Yearly, held in Dakar, Senegal, is the West African Invitation Softball Tournament (WAIST). Included in the tourney for 2011 were PCV's from Mali, Cape Verde, the closed Mauritania program, Niger evacuee's, The Gambia, and one or two stragglers from other West African countries (Guinea, Burkina Faso, etc). We were not only pitted against each other by region and country, but against teams from the American Embassy league, Missionary organizations, and other NGO's working here in Senegal. Historically, organizations have uniforms for their teams, but leave it to the Senegal volunteers to take it to a whole new level. Featured from our regions were: cowboys, cops and robbers, liederhosen,  space-core, and the 52 ballerinas from my region in Kaolack.

The festivities encompassed 4 days of talent shows, pool parties, and good ole' fashioned American fun (BBQ hot dogs and pulled pork were featured foods). Volunteers usually stay in the homes of foreign service workers while participating in WAIST, which adds that extra touch of being back home (hot showers, home-cooked foods, laundry facilities, etc.).
The U.S. Marine Corps even hosted a date auction where PCV's and Military men were sold off to the highest bidder to help fund the Gender and Development scholarship program in Senegal run by the Peace Corps organization SeneGAD.

Fun-times had, and utterly exhausted, Volunteers returned to their usual lives, just awaiting February to come next year, for another round of American good times.  Oh and don't forget all that softball playing!!"


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