How are things going over there in the US of A? I have very exciting news: the internet is now
working at my provincial house so I'll be able to Skype and be connected once again. While
it's not the most reliable connection, it's better than no connection at all. I'm currently in Mansa because Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) begins next week (This was written about Camp GLOW in April, we’re now working on the GLOW for December), so we're just organizing and preparing for the camp. Everything has been running smoothly, other than the donations aspect. Last year, the people organizing the camp had a lot of community support and supplies donated, but we think that they assumed it would only be happening once because this year they don't have the ability to donate. But, we're getting by and it's still going to be great. Since last time, not much has happened. I've been working a lot (7 days a week) because I had to get things organized for the workshops and programs I have coming up. I addressed all of these programs in my last blog, so I won't bore you with the initial details of them. In terms of the malaria study, it's been quite time consuming and a bit akward, because me and a counterpart are asking to enter into the bedrooms of Zambians. In their culture, this is a very private area, and no one other than immediate family is usually permitted within their bedrooms. The other option is that the Zambians can untie their misquito net and bring it outside. Surprisingly, most have allowed us in their homes. What else...termites ate my door frame. One day I was getting home from sleeping over at my Peace Corps neighbor's house, I unlocked the door, pushed on it, and it fell into my house. It was very similar to a scene shown in a cartoon. At first, I was worried that someone had broken into my house, but they hadn't. (I think that termites are a large obstacle on the road to development...can a country truly develop if the buildings/anything made of wood are constantly being eaten?) It then took about 3 days for the community to organize and fix my door frame. During this time, I was simply putting my lock on the door and making it appear to be okay while doing my programs.
Once again, it's been awhile since the last time I've updated this blog. Many things that happen are difficult to describe. This is the sort of experience you need to see to understand. The girl's camp that I had previously described came and went. 16 girls, 8 mentors, and facilitators attended. There were different sessions presented to the girls on topics such as HIV/AIDS (including testing), girl empowerment, and women's health along with many others. The program was an exhausting, but rewarding 5 days long. The first day was spent getting to know each other and making t-shirts and other arts and crafts. The other 4 days were full of sessions done by educated facilitators who came from all over Luapula to empower the girls whom attended. We also played net ball, danced to Zambian music, had bon fires, and a talent show on the last night. At the talent show, we taught the girls the chicken dance and the macarena. We looked ridiculous but they enjoyed it...and we did as well. The girls I brought did a great job: participated a lot, and were outgoing. Even the mentor I brought did a great job of organizing things Since this camp, the girls who I brought (Lillian and Memory) and the mentor(Angie) have begun organizing GLOW group meetings without my help. I attended the first meeting. They recruited about 12 girls at the school to be part of it, we introduced ourselves, and we went over what the girls want to learn about, and what the reason for having a GLOW group is. In this culture females are unequal to males, but this group is a time for females to get together and enjoy/embrace the fact that they are females. These meetings will consist of giving health education and playing games. As far as I'm concerned, if the girls were only taught 15 minutes of information and played basketball for 45 minutes, that would be a successful meeting. They just need some time away from their homes (where they do all the chores) and together playing sports and other activities males usually dominate. We're planning on having meetings twice a month: the first and last thursday of each month. They said that with the more complicated topics, they're going to make sure I'm there so I can explain it but beyond that they'll be meeting by themselves. We've already begun planning for the next Camp GLOW which will be in December 2012 at a boy's school (ironic, eh?). We think it's going to be even more successful than the last Camp because the venue is great and the community has already donated a large amount. If you're looking for an overseas program to donate to, this is the one. The money doesn't get filtered through the different levels of the organization: It goes straight to Peace Corps and it's tax-write-offable.
Even small amounts are great. For example, $5 can send a girl to the camp.
Hm, well that's my moment of advertising. Let me know if you're interested and I can give you more details. (All you have to do is go onto the Peace Corps website, look for projects, and then look for my name (Kelly DeVore). Then you can use your credit card or pay pal. Make sure to pick the project my name is listed under, because there’s multiple GLOW Camps looking for money.
The program Smile Train that I've mentioned in the past is coming up once again. The two little boys I brought are well.
All of what you just read in this entry was written a long time ago, so here’s an update: Another girl was brought to Smile Train and successfully worked on a month ago.
I have no good excuse for going this long without updating my blog. I just seem to forget about it and have a lot going on.
I have a living fence surrounding my house. It’s made of a succulent but it doesn’t seem to stop children, goats, or chickens, which was the initial goal.
I also have a drying rack now, where I place my dishes after they’re washed. It was built in front of one of my big windows, mostly just to stop the children from looking through my window all the time.
I’ve been working a lot with Nutrition and a PS Ishiko program. I have a group of 8 volunteers who have gone through multiple trainings about nutrition, how to properly weigh/ record the weight of children (they’re not use to graphs. While Americans grow up with these and we’re used, it’s not the same here so it takes some time to learn), and how to identify malnourished children. I’ve been gone for about a week, but while I’ve been gone they have the responsibility of gathering information at Child Health Week, finding 3 malnourished children, finding 3 healthy children, and inviting the mothers to a 12-day program of cooking demonstrations. At these demonstrations the mothers will bring all the food and see that they can have balanced meals with locally available food. The mothers with healthy children will show the others that they can have healthy children, because they also have no money, but yet have healthy children. That might sound a bit confusing but I don’t want to go into too many details. But, I’m working on this with my Ba Mayo, or the woman who takes care of me, kind of like a Zambian mother. She’s a great counterpart, very intelligent, and does great work.
In July I went to Lake Tangyanika (where we went on a boat, ate amazing food, snorkeled, and kayaked) and Kapisha Hot Springs (good local/organic coffee/food, pool, hot springs, hiking) with a good group of volunteers.
I attended an HIV/AIDS workshop with an amazing counterpart named Bridget. She was doing HIV/AIDS health talks at Under 5 Clinics and was planning on being my counterpart for this upcoming Camp GLOW, but I went to Lake Tangyanika and Kapisha Hot Springs, returned, and called her. She told me that she had some family issues and she’s moved to the Copperbelt, which is very far away. I’m missing her already.
A couple weeks ago some of the new CHIP program trainees visited my site and did “2nd site visit”. Peace Corps gives them a list of things they need to accomplish at their 2nd site visit so we did them in the first two days and then went to Ntumbutushi Falls for the last part of the visit. We did health talks, visited a headman, met with a Community Based Organization (Malaria Control), talked with community members about malaria and malaria myths, had a cooking session (led by my Zambian mother, whom is an excellent cook), and then went to the waterfalls. The girls that came to my site visit were great, and learned a lot, I think.
Tomorrow my parents will arrive by plane at 3:30 P.M. I’m very excited and we have lots of events planned, including visiting Zanzibar.