Monday, October 18, 2010
Over the past few years when I have followed Peace Corps volunteers' blogs I began to care about them and always wondered what became of them after they came back to the US. Somebody, somewhere, might like to know what has happened since Jessica returned to the US 10 months ago. I will be brief, and I hope she doesn't mind.
She took a long time to "re-adjust." Readjustment will probably never completely happen, and I think that is a good thing, because this was a transformative experience and it will be part of her for the rest of her life. That is as it should be.
Jessica is in contact with her village on a weekly basis, through the magic of Skype and cell phones. The grain bank has managed its first year without her. The school is thriving, but the doors need to be fixed, and she is able to call the contractor in Konni and a go-between in Niamey. Her village has just survived a very difficult hunger season, and is looking forward to an improved harvest in 2010. She plans to return to Niger within the next year.
Jessica is in graduate school in upstate New York, being challenged in the area of International Nutrition at Cornell University.
If you are reading this, welcome, and thank you for checking in!
Thursday, December 3, 2009
On my last day in Niger, I:
Woke up nervous
Ran along a sandy road (quiet on the way out, traffic on the way back)
Visited the hospital and bid farewell to the women who are still awaiting fistula surgery
Had a close-of-service interview and only cried during it once
Avoided saying goodbye, as a mutual agreement, with my friends on staff at headquarters (we did a lot of: "see you later, maybe even today!" )
Made and ate lunch with a fellow volunteer from my hometown (sifted bugs out of the pasta and could only barely taste them)
Packed a Going-To-Morocco-In-Sun-Faded-Clothes themed wardrobe
Gave three watermelons to the staff at Air Maroc for helping arrange my flight
Washed my grimey blue sweatshirt so whoever sits next to me on the plane isn't uncomfortable
Spoke to my two homes: parents in Oregon, and parents in...am I allowed to say the name of my village now? Maybe not, since I'm officially still a volunteer, until midnight...Anyway, I spoke with Narba, Mariama, Zuera, Suleil, and a few others.
And that brings us, generally, to Now. I have a few more hours before lift off. Thank you for reading, and I'll see some of you soon. Allah shi kiyaye, Allah shi gumma mu da alheri, Allah shi bada hankuri.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Here is Ibrahima and his camel. He's in his work clothes here, but I'll try to dig up a shot of him on a day that "ya sha gayye"- got dressed up (Ibrahima is normally very well dressed). He knew that I wanted a picture of him with his camel so one morning he stopped by my house on his way back from the fields. The stuff tied on the camel's back is "harawar wake"- bean vines, which he'll feed to his family's sheep, goats, and cattle.
Friday, November 27, 2009
I have managed to talk with my family and friends in my village every day; we all appear to be (mostly) over the huge bummer of my sudden departure and are just happy to be able to hear each other's voices. They're wrapping up the harvest and preparing for the biggest holiday of the year-- Tabaski, which will happen tomorrow. Obviously I won't be able to partake in the festivities with them this time, but I will celebrate here in Niamey with city-Nigerien friends. What will we do? Be thankful for each other, dress up, visit and greet many people, slaughter a sheep, and eat lots and lots of meat for two days. Barka da Salla!
Below are a few pictures from my last days in the village.
Above are Rahido, Alkasum, Idi, and Wan Mano filling a granary with newly-harvested bundles of millet. The average family will eat approximately one bundle's worth of millet a day. This year, in our area, a family is lucky to get 150 bundles out of their fields. After the bundles run out, they will rely on money sent home from sons and husbands on work exodus to purchase bags of millet from the market.
Friday, November 20, 2009
For now: we are all safe, together, and increasingly able to address the imposing number of emotional and logistical adjustments that we'll have to make eventually.
I feel fortunate that I was near the end of my service here, and therefore had already started the Goodbye Conversation with many friends. I was lucky, as well, to have almost 3 hours advance warning that a car was coming to get me; I got to pack some things and say goodbye to the hundred or so people who waited with me. Rahman almost made it into my backpack undetected.
Again, I will write more about this when I can. It's a little too soon to try to process it now, especially with an audience. But thanks for checking in.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Lots of unknowns right now...
Forever in my heart...
Thursday, November 5, 2009
This is Laura, a fellow volunteer-trainer who cracks me up and kicks my butt with her "dance workouts". Laura built a well in her village and organized a camp for young girls.
Meet Alex, a fellow Oregonian who got more work done in compromised circumstances than any of the rest of us who had it easy. A sample of his work: gardens, maps, health care for a girl with polio, tree planting, and just generally being resilient and creative. We went to high school AND college together but didn't know it. Alex also made it out to visit and wowed us all with his already-advanced Hausa (he learned Zarma in training).