Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Evacuation Life

I think it was October 8th I left Guinea not knowing that it'd be the last time I would see my home, my family and my friends. We were evacuated to Mali, Bamako to await the inevitable news that they would suspend the Guinea program. I didn't think it possible but there we were with only three days to decide what next.

I miss my village more than anything and not being able to say those goodbyes and have that closure makes it even harder to realize that my Guinea service is over. I did a good strong two years and am looking to transfer to Mali.

Being evacuated was weird cause the country was still pretty much the same, it's just all these strangers leaving to let Guinea fight it's own battle. We were able to get everyone out of the country in like 4 days, yet we only had 2 days to say our final farewells. There wasn't much change going on, things were the same. Yes there was a terrible massacre and people were grieving and people were scared, but I felt so safe in my village. In the villages it was fine, in larger cities it was calm. You wouldnt have though there was over 100 people killed for no reason in the region's capital.

So arriving in Bamako we were walking around and waiting for word for about 2 weeks, then given the bad news that in the next 3 days we need to relocate ourselves. ok. No problem. Then thats it.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Fasting in the village

I wrote something very profound on a piece of paper and totally lost it. So Ill try to recapture it with the time I have in the cafe. Well its that time of the Muslim calendar where fasting is called for and its been 15 days today. Before the month started I had told my family I wanted to fast the entire month and learn what I could about their religion since most of what I think I know is hearsay anyway. They were at first a little skeptical (mainly my host mom) and then told me if I were to do this I would have to pray as well.
I wasnt too thrilled about the thought of prayer because one its all in Arabic and I dont speak Arabic and two because its 5 prayers each day in a language I dont understand. Rather than dismissing the idea entirely, which was plan A, I decided to try it out and see if it was something I could do.
Step one: I purchased the Holy Quaran with English translation, very helpful and also when my host family saw it they were amazed because now I could understand what they were talking about and then some. This has helped so much because in reading it, I can further understand the religion.
Step two: Learn how to pray. This may sound ridiculous to learn how to pray but seriously its a big thing. Its one thing to do it and copy what someone does in front of me or next to me but its another level to be able to do it properly on my own.
Step three: Fast
So basically its been 15 days and its been so far going really well. Day one through Day 3 was the hardest but now that Im used to it and half way there its a lot easier. So what have I learned? A LOT! Well first and foremost why Fasting is an important practice in Muslim religion and also that this idea of abstaining for food and water throughout the day can be applied to avoid a slew of evils in the world. Im sure there is more but those are at the top of my list.
How are things in the village? Things are really slow yet again. No one wants to work, no one wants to move or do anything. I had started to organize a Peer Education Training and we had two more sessions to do before the month began and its been two weeks and no one wants to study. Sad Face. So it might have to wait until the end of September. Ive been cooking often a lot, im sorry but man I can make some amazing Rice and Sauce, no joke.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Back to Planet . . .

I wanted to make this a quick not but how can I? So here I am minding my own business in Guinea West Africa. I think actually I was just going about my business and working and well basically what i came here to do and it hit me. What? It wasnt the casual what are you going to do when you go home. It was the more like what the hell have I been doing for the past two years? So yeah I stopped and thought about where I was before leaving home. I was 22; fresh out of college with a degree to do *something* (or rather proves I am not retarded nowadays) On top of that I had no idea where i was going, i had experience in nothing so what do you do? Well the obvious response is GO OUT AnD GET a JOB! I refuse! So instead I applied to join the Peace Corps to delay the job search, as some may put it.

Technically I do have a job for those skeptics. I remember when I first said hey that sounds like something I want to do I got a bunch of crap, and a lot of no you cant do that. A lot of what a waste of time and etc. the list goes on but basically many people told me thats not the way for me to go. So what did I do? I stopped telling people what I wanted for me and went ahead and did what I wanted to do. And I dont regret it one bit. So I went to go work for the Peace Corps and now Im a health volunteer in Guinea WesT Africa and I love it! I can actually say i love it!

Now as far as what have I accomplished since arriving in Guinea in December 2007, well by looking at someone youd say eh she hasnt changed a bit. its definately not on the outside, the only thing i see Ive changed on the outside is I may have put on a few pounds. But Ive put a lot into me. For starters my french sucked upon arriving here, Ive been able to communicate with coworkers, friends and strangers in two foreign languages, somethingi hadnt thought possible. On top of that Ive been working closely with a community every day helping everyday at their health center. Ive made everlasting friendships and I have a family here as well. I learned how to cook. Well more specifically I learned how to cook rice and African sauces. I learned how to cook with sticks. LOL. I can carry a crap load of things on my head, including a 25 liter bottle of water. I can wash my laundry in any river just give me a rock. I have learned how to integrate in a foreign community, its not everyone who can wear long skirts everyday, and learn a foriegn tongue to boot. Then there is those moral things Ive learned, like how to live without a television, running water, or a computer. Sometimes I think yeah thats really nice but is it really necessary to update my facebook picture every other day? Not likely. So i can say Ive learned what it means sacrfice but not just from my own from my neighbors as well. Its nearly every day they have a sacrifice so in return God will repay them. Does this work? But its what life is here. The list goes on but I am going to stop right there because (the internet cafe will close soon and two i think the point is proven). So tell me then where I am going to apply these skills into my job search?

Recently ive been studying for the GRE and hope to take the exam the end of October. But probably wont go back to school until next next year like 2011 i guess. Well see how it goes, I dont know if anyone is keeping track but im getting older. I think I might have to stop keeping track after this year of my age. heheeeee. (no pictures, i lost my cable)

In all seriousness I am open to suggestions for after Peace Corps of ideas as far as work, school, or any other ideas you may have. I am open for any suggestions, email them. beacongrown@gmail.com or just tell me but itd be a lot of help tp tell me now as oppossed to when i get home.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Vacation and Guinea

I recently visited home for two weeks and realized I have apparently changed. It was really good to go home and see my family and hang out with my brothers and see some friends as well. It was good times, each day.

Now I'm back in Guinea and I can see the changes that I've made and how I've adapted to be able to live this new life in Guinea and actually now I can remember that difference and those things I orginally saw and thought wow, this needs to change. Immediately arriving to the airport I sensed things were gonna be different. I havent made it bakc to the village yet but I can feel it, like things are going to be different.

I was happy to be back in Guinea, i really do miss my host family and the friends I have made here but i also miss that laid back like nobody's perfect type of feeling. At home I felt it a little that i needed to wear that bit of perfume or dress nice but here I feel comfortable knowing that people are impressed by just you showing up. LOL.

Anyway I have no future vacation plans I've been away for so long. I'm looking forward to going back. we are doing a girl's Conference the last week of July which should be awesome. Afterwards I'm planning this AIDS presentation at the night club with some local partners, and also a possible training for midwives. (well that'd be basically to get more woman involved in the village and develop more skills.) Ramadan should be fun, well not fun but I plan on fasting the entire time and taking full participation in this month of fasting and praying and learning more than anyone could ever want to know about a religion without converting. And well after that I guess I might take one last vacation for my birthday, I haven't decided where yet but Sierra Leone looks like the least expensive and most fun than staying in Guinea or i might just explore Guinea which should also be pretty cool. And by then I'll have my end of service conference and spend the last few months helping out here and there at the school. I'm still working on it but have yet proposed it but I'm trying to do like an entire week of health programs at each of the elementary schools in the local language which sounds easy but i think it's gonna take a while to get it all figured out and find a good counterpart and get all the materials and crap and then go to each school, there's about 12, so this would be 12 weeks! (Not sure if anyone could do actually work for 12 weeks straight here in the village. lol.)

Anyway excited to come home next year and already looking into graduate programs. I'm looking to leave New York (ASAP) so i'm looking into programs outside of New York and have no desire to be in the city. Any one who likes to offer their opinion is free to email me or call me or let me know, rather not when i get home but in the next few months would make more sense.

I lost my cable for my photos so sorry no photos for a while till i figure that one out.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Home for two weeks

Home and weird. Weird being home. So home for two weeks and now I'm trying not to be a little monkey and run around everywhere. Does anyone understand i'd like to relax.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Yet another blog from Guinea

Yet another blog from Guinea

Today marks the indefinite end to a wonderful Tourney. I spent the past few weeks visiting elementary schools to talk about malaria. The plan was to talk to as many elementary schools as possible in order to give information on transmission and prevention to school kids before the rainy season starts. It started mid-May, the rain that is.

I started out setting up dates and writing letters that were never delivered because one reason or another. I gave letters written to the health center staff and because my counterpart was away I was told to wait on the project even though I hadn’t planned for his direct involvement.

Next step I typed letters to distribute myself to get the ball rolling. Finally my counterpart came back and he helped delivered the letters that the Agent PEV refused to do.

I planned a week of events to go and visit seven schools in a week. I scheduled two for certain days where I could pass one village onto the next. But anyway this is how the rundown went.

Tounney___ April 20, I spoke to their third grade class of 24 boys and 12 girls, and I spoke to their sixth grade class of 23 boys and 16 girls. The teachers were very helpful and very understanding. I originally did the third grade class, than the sixth grade class then went back to do the third grade class again because after a discussion with the director of studies we decided that not too many students got the important messages. After a long time of pulling teeth I think there were many more students who got the message. Things went really well and they were given the true/false activity.

Lariyah__ April 25, I presented to first grade, 2nd grade and fourth grade students all together in a big group, totaling 95 boys and 87 girls. With the help of two very motivated teachers we gave the sensibilization in both French and in Pular. Things went really well and they were given the true/false activity.

Tolou__ April 22, I presented to two classes, their second grade class and their fifth grade class totaling 76 boys and 59 girls. I was again accompanied by a well motivated teacher to pass along malaria messages. I think they had already gone over it in class before I arrived so a lot of the students were robotically giving answers but at least they got the message across. I was invited back to give the same presentation for the parents as well.

Niaworo__ April 21 and April 24, The first visit was a thud and to made matters worse my APCD visited that day. Anyway I was invited back the Friday afternoon. The next visit I invited the health post chef and did the presentation for their second grade class of 28 boys and 24 girls. I’m sad to say that I spent 10 minutes arguing with the health post chef as to whether mangoes can give you malaria. And because the kids were so young they needed the translation into Pular so there wasn’t much I could do in that but I guess it’s ok that they tell them to wash mangoes to prevent other diseases, right? This class was so adorable because they made like mosquitoes out of paper or cardboard. They get an A for creativity!

Tourey__ April 24, Talk about unresponsive. I spoke with their sixth grade class of 14 girls and 8 boys. I don’t know if it was the morning or what but the kids weren’t very into it. And well the teacher wasn’t very helpful either. I tried the mosquito tag game and that got out of control but I really think they understood the message of wearing longer clothes to protect themselves.

Tountouroun Centre__ April 24 Here I got to talk to three classes, their second grade class of 45 girls and 36 boys, sixth grade class of 21 girls and 11 boys, and fourth grade class of 14 girls and 10 boys. I had pretty good luck with TC, everyone was pretty responsive I tried to play mosquito tag with everyone but I didn’t have time to do it with the fourth grade class. However they were so much more responsive and the teachers did a good job helping to translate difficult messages.

Kambaya__ May 16, After terrible planning and not knowing the exact location of this district I finally arrived to find all the school kids on the route. I spent the morning giving the sensibilization with one of the teachers of the school while the director of studies watched on. The classes that participated were 1st 4th and 5th grades. Totaling approximately 90 students.

LeyKorema__ May 20, For their one classroom of third graders with 28 girls and 25 boys accompanied by the health post chef we gave a presentation in primarily Pular. It was a lot of help because he was quite familiar with the topic and did a good job translating, even though every time I spoke French he laughed at me. Not funny! And the teacher also helped out a bit.

Tolou parents __May 22, On yet another visit to Tolou I spoke with 23 women and 11 men with Ila. This went over really well, there was a decent turnout at the elementary school. I spoke in French and Ila as well as the teacher helped with translating the important messages. It was mostly them talking in Pular, but I think it went over well and the parents seemed to be pretty attentive as well.

I wish I could say there is more in store but at the moment I can’t really say. I’d like to continue doing more awareness of malaria. I really wish I had nets to distribute mosquito nets.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Back from Vacation

We spent a week in Sierra leone, and it was hardest thing to leave and come back here to Guinea. There were awesome beaches, awesome seafood, and the weather was nice and the clubs were were very good as well. Already planning to head back in October or we'll see what happens.

Everyone piled in the taxi upon arriving in freetown.

The girls at River Number 2 Beach.

Me doing that modelling pose.

Me and Astride.

Kim over by a wall. that wall says "Nor Piss ya" Whatever that means.

The girls step out.

Me and jess at Lumley.

Kim's working on her modelling pose.

Kim and Brienns at paddy's

Me at Lumley

Me building castles in the sand.

Me relaxing on the beach.

the girls enjoying a fruit smoothie at the Crown Bakery.

That kid was mad annoying at Lumley.

Laying on the beach.

The girls chillin at the beach.

We went out to chinese very fancy. The woman handed me a hot towel and I nearly threw it at her.

ready to go out.

the girls on the beach.
This trip was pretty awesome and I can't wait to do it again. I'm heading back to site in a few days where I will continue doing my malaria presentations and clean water talks and such. Yeah, much more fun than lying on a beach. LOL.