Monday, April 25, 2011

Return from being AWOL!

Alright, alright. I'm a terrible blogger. But in my defense I've actually been pretty busy lately, and once I fell behind on blogging the catch up just seemed more and more daunting. So, instead of dealing too much with all the details of the last month or so, I'll just hit the high points:

My girls club is going really well. I thought the number of members would decrease after the first meeting since we had given them an assignment...nope, it TRIPLED in size. In a way, this is awesome. I'm psyched that the girls like what's going on and obviously the more people who can participate, the better. On the other hand, it's a lot harder to work with a group that size. You can't really have conversations, and that's kind of what I was hoping this group would be able to do. For our last meeting we split them into three separate 1-hour groups and made friendship bracelets. They loved that! It was a lot of fun, and I wish I could put up the pictures we got from it, but unfortunately those were on Esther's camera that got stolen.

Our World Map Project is almost finished! There are a few final paint touchups, a few countries that still need labeling, and then a sealant to put on and we're done! When we were first making a schedule of how long we thought it would take I thought we were being really conservative and giving ourselves lots of extra time, but it really did take that long. I guess we didn't really count on the kids being such perfectionists, because they realllly take their time. Overall that's a good thing though, because the map looks really nice, I think. Now they're working on a large map of just Madagascar that's next to the World Map which will show where HIV/AIDS is most prevalent in the country. My friend Ali wants to do a World Map in her town, and I'm hoping that when she does I'll be able to help and create an instructional video for future volunteers about how to do the World Map. It was intimidating at first because all you have are a few graphs and no idea how to turn it into a map, but it's actually not too hard!

I feel like I've been in and out of site a lot this month. The new stage of trainees are doing what's called a “de-myst” trip, which I think stands for de-mystification, where they go hang out with a current volunteer at their site for a weekend and kind of get a feel for how volunteers live. I got to host two trainees from the environment sector, and then a couple weeks later hosted three from SED. They were all great, and I know they'll be awesome volunteers! During the SED de-myst trip my friend Brittany from my stage also came up to my site to check out my map project, and that was a ton of fun. I truly thought that no one would ever visit my site because...we'll let's be real, there's not much anyone would want to see there. That whole week was pretty crazy because there were a ton of volunteers in Tana for various reasons, and it was so nice to catch up with people I hadn't seen in a long time.

One of the other reasons I was in Tana was to do some work with Amber, who came up from Ambalavao for a couple weeks. We met with a woman from the U.S. Embassy about resources for English Clubs and Culture Corners, and got some pretty sweet books to use for those. We also did a radio interview about our lives in Peace Corps, which was extremely nerve-wracking because it was entirely in Malagasy! Luckily a member of Peace Corps staff came with us so when we just had no idea what they were saying (I mean, you've listened to the radio, right? They speak a million miles a minute!) he could quickly whisper it in English to us. Overall I think it went well, and the Peace Corps driver who listened to it was really excited for us when we got back to the car. Not something I'd like to do again soon though!

Then, Amber came up to my site (two visitors in one month!) so that she could see where I live and also see how a CSB works. So, she came to work with me and since it was Mother/Child Health Week, there was a lot to do! We were distributing Vitamin A capsules and deworming pills to children 5 and under and their mothers. This was in addition to the usual malaria tests and prenatal consultations that were going on, so it was a busy time. She took some pictures too, which was really cool because I'm too uncomfortable to take pictures at my site. Other people's sites, sure, but not my own. You get stuck being your town's photographer once people know you have a camera (or they steal it), and I'm not really interested in that.

I can't believe April is nearly over, it flew by! And I feel like I was just saying that about March too. There's that weird Peace Corps conception of time for you though, sometimes days feel like years and months feel like minutes. Now it's almost May and my parents and Matt are coming!! I feel like I've been counting this one down since I got to country, so I'm pretty much freaking out. It'll be nice to have a real vacation and not just chill in Tana. Expect many lemur/rainforest/beach/desert pictures in the near future.

That's the word from here for now. Till next time!