One year ago today…
I woke up at 5:30 am, unable to sleep or calm my nerves. It was the beginning of a new chapter - life on my own as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I had completed the necessary training. I took an oath to become a Peace Corps Volunteer. I packed my bags. And I mentally prepared myself for moving to my village as much as I thought I could.
I went to the education center to gather the rest of my belongings and wait for my ride to come and take me to my new village. One by one, I hugged my fellow volunteers goodbye as they went on their way to their new sites. I sat and waited, and waited, and waited. Our car was several hours late, so needless to say, I was excited to load up the car and head out of Kanye.
I remember being crammed into the back of a Toyota corolla, with my kitty cat in my lap, looking out the window at the golden sunlight dancing upon the desert vegetation. I remember thinking to myself, "This is it. You're really doing this!".
I had no idea what to expect. I had no clue what I was in for. Over four hours later, we pulled into Kang. I could only see part of my village out of my window, as the rest was blocked by my belongings, as well as the other PCVs I was riding with. I still didn't know if I had a house to live in, as that was never communicated to me. I remember thinking, "I'm fine sleeping in the back of an ambulance. Just let me lay down and be happy to be in my village."
Much to my surprise, I was swept into the welcoming arms of the nurse-charge and the chief medical officer. They loaded my bags into their cars, whisked me away into the village, and proudly announced that I had a beautiful home waiting for me.
Bags were unloaded, basic instructions were given to find the clinic in the morning, a candle was lit, and off they went. Deep breaths. I had a new house. The doors locked. There was no electricity. No stove. Just an empty house and a new beginning.
I pulled out my groceries, made a PB&J, said a few prayers, and reassured myself that I would grow out of my fear of the dark and eventually figure out my role as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kang.
Phew. Then my eyelids finally closed...I had made it.
I decided to sleep in since I will be working all through the weekend. I gave myself a few extra hours to get some things done… I made coffee, did my devotion, baked a cake, did yoga, and took a bucket bath (a bath alone is an impressive feat during the winter here). I gathered all my things, set off for the clinic ready to tackle my to do list.
Upon arriving at the clinic, I chatted with a few coworkers and villagers about how things were going in their lives. I moseyed on over to the staff room to check for updates and new savingrams (memos). Then, off to my office to start crossing things off my list. Plan activities to teach about STDs? Check. Google disgusting pictures of STDs to scare the living crap out of high school boys? Check. Gather material about SMC (Safe male circumcision) ? Check. Compile questions for pre and post tests at the camp this weekend? Check.
Time's up. Gotta go to the primary school. I headed to the primary school to meet with the PACT (peer approach to counseling by teens) group. We discussed several topics throughout the lesson (confidentiality, how to be a good peer leader, active listening, etc), played a few games, gave them all hugs, and wished them luck on their end of term exams coming up.
Then I went back to the clinic to finish preparing for the Boys GLOW (Girls & Guys Leading Our World) camp this weekend. After finishing up, I went home to pick up the cake and walked to the house of one of my closest friends in the village. It was her birthday and I wanted to give her my love.
I hugged, kissed, and spun her daughter around in circles upon arrival. I met the newest little one in her family, a chubby lil bright eyed baby named after her, Tshegofatso. I gave her a card, full of love and encouraging words, which she passed to everyone to read :o) We sang her happy birthday, cut the cake & I watched them dig into the chocolately goodness. After the sugar rush, she and I walked towards the village together and she told me, "Boitshepo. No one has ever made me a cake. That's the first birthday card I've had in my life. I've never had my own."
We hugged and smiled as we parted ways… she went to church, I headed home. At home, I made dinner, had a cup of coffee, chatted with Michael, and sent off a bunch of emails to other SVAC advisors about the global PC database. I felt myself get a little overwhelmed with my to do list I still hadn't accomplished, and then I smiled… I'm busy. I'm doing things. I'm home. I'm happy. I can't really complain.
Tomorrow, PCVs will start arriving to help with camp all weekend. We'll educate, empower, and encourage high school boys to take full responsibility for their lives and reach their full potential. We'll be doing our best to make an impact.
So, although I'm drinking coffee and staying up late again to get things done, I'm happy with how far things have come in my life in the past year.
* * * * *
Drastic changes, all in a years time.
One year ago today, I swore in as a Peace Corps Volunteer. One year from now, I will go home as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer.
I'm every emotion you can imagine. But regardless, I wouldn’t change any of it. My life is exactly how it should be. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Be where you are
Otherwise, you will miss your life
Love & Light,