A Long Road to Hoe

Friday, December 23, 2011

This post has been a long time coming… I just want you all to know that I have not abandoned you quite yet, but took an extended pause. In my actual world, life has been beyond busy. Let me explain something real quick. Your first year as a PCV you spend all your time thinking about how much time you have to do everything, and figuring out the best way to do it while missing home; your second year, however, is spent doing all those things you thought you had so much time to do, and thinking about how you wish there was more time to do it all, and then of course, planning for life after Peace Corps, which could take all of your time if you wanted it to.

So, I am currently in this last phase, known as ‘Now What?’ for most of us. The prospects of being both jobless and homeless are not in any way shape or form exciting, in fact, they create an incredible amount of anxiety, which is dealt with differently by different people. In the last week I have talked to other volunteers who claim to want to disown all their possessions, teach English in any country that will let them, volunteers who cry every day and invariably upset everyone they know because they can’t seem to deal with it all, volunteers who are so hopeless they just laugh, and then volunteers who are in such denial they drink as much as possible to forget they will have to at some point leave this utopia that pays them, feeds them, houses them, and provides them with a ‘job’ on a daily basis. The mental state around here is a fine equilibrium of euphoria and anguish. Blogging has taken a backseat, and I hope you understand why.

The quick and dirty breakdown of the last six months:

-Went to America (yay!) where I saw my best friend married and then become pregnant. And got tattoos!
-Had impetigo, staph, the flu, and a cyst excised from my palette. Oh, and crushed my big toe and toe joint on a car ride. Karma is a bitch.
-Re-planted mangroves in the wilderness area near the Gambia (see blog post from Sept. 2010).
-Had another PCV and fellow grad student visit me for a week.
-Turned 25 (no quarter life crisis yet).
-My village sister had a healthy baby boy, and my other sister is about 5 months along.
-Dressed up as a Wonka Bar and Golden Ticket for Halloween.
-Became a regional coordinator and the Kaolack transit house Manager.(Do your dishes!!!)
-Said goodbye to 6 friends, and welcomed 18 new PCV’s to the region.
-Celebrated World AIDS Day and demonstrated how to use condoms to villagers ages 11-62. Gave out over 300 condoms to teenage boys.
-Witnessed 2 births, and assisted with 1.

I can’t possibly describe every thing I have been involved in, mainly because I just can’t remember. At this point, I am focusing on trying to feasibly complete the proejcts that have either been in motioin for a while, or I have decided to participate in at the last minute, but are certain to be complete before I leave.

I am going to launch into shameless self promotion for the biggest most awesome project ever. The Senegal Race For Education.
Every year the volunteers choose 6 teenage girls from their villages or road towns to provide scholarships for the year, as well as money to school supplies, and participate in after school activities. In Senegal, girls enrollment in school is twice as low as boys, and their education typically lasts only up until the point of menstruation, when they are expected to marry and reproduce. I myself have seen a sister drop out of school at 13 to become married and pregnant. The best way to keep girls from early marriage, abuse, early pregnancy, and early death, is to keep them in school. The Girl Effect organization has this video that displays exactly how this works:

Each year we intend to give as many scholarships as possible (each at 60 dollars each); last year, after months of planning and promising to get girls their money, we did not have enough. Partly because our donations from home were so low, and partly because the Peace Corps budget has been cut. It left the volunteers to pay out of pocket, or revoke the scholarships. We refuse to let this happen this year, and so the RACE FOR EDUCATION is a marathon to draw in sponsorship money for the scholarship program. I am totally running it, and looking for sponsors from home town running companys, money for prizes, Gatorade for the runners, power bars, anything. It would be really awesome if we could get Nike involved somehow, since I know they already sponsor stuff like this.

So, don’t let the girls down! Ask everyone you know, to either donate, or send packages for the race. Please contact any business interested in sponsoring this project! I need your help, the girls are counting on it.



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