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Trip Start Sep 22, 2003
62Trip End Dec 13, 2005
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We hope everyone has a safe and happy 4th. Being that it always feels like mid August here it's hard to remember time is flying by and both mother's day and father's day are way behind us. So at least we were aware of this one. We will hopefully have a couple of volunteers up to see us and not that we needed an excuse to whip up some amazing dishes but we'll be sure to celebrate while they're there.
We are now definitely in the rainy/planting/growing season. Matéri has changed from a dusty brown and rusty red terrain to a thousand shades of fresh green sprouting up everywhere. Most everyone has already plowed their fields by either ox or hand and now the corn, millet, and sorghum are between shin and knee height. Both of us have recently been touring the other cities of our county and the vast green landscapes are really beautiful. That and every evening we usually have a beautiful sunset behind our house with the clouds from a front going by all lit up purple to pink.
Work wise things have been cookin. We now know why the previous PCVs said the last year flies by. After working on getting things going your 1st year, the 2nd really starts to produce results and you are busy doing a ton of projects all at once. After over 6 months of running around crazy and trying to get everything planned, Jason finally had his environmental education training and it was a bigger hit than he ever imagined. There are 66 principals in our county and we split them up to do 2 three-day sessions. It was really great to see just how interested the participants became throughout the three days. In the beginning of the first day some were there mainly to see what free-stuff they could get but by the end of the first day and throughout the 2nd and 3rd they didn't want to end. Jason's partner and leader of the sessions was just so dynamic and full of such cool information that they couldn't stop asking questions and it was really great seeing principals who usually are a little uptight turn back into fascinated curious little kids. So now we have a bunch of teachers and students all geared up to plant even more Moringa and the following year they will be responsible for creating environmental clubs, developing tree nurseries, as well as other environmental activities they themselves come up with.
Rebecca has been doing a tour throughout the county to visit the volunteers that she trained to worked with handicapped persons back in February. Each volunteer is required to give a talk with villagers about the causes and prevention of handicaps when we come to see them. So that way we're able to see them at work and verify that they're trained correctly. In case anyone is wondering, the prevention of handicaps simply means getting prental consults at the health center, avoiding medicines and alcohol during pregnancy, eating lots of vegetables and fruits during pregnancy and during the child's infancy, avoiding household accidents, and treating eye and ear infecions promptly at the health center. So these things may seem like common sense to you, but here, people think handicaps are caused by sorcery and voodoo. They believe it is a curse that a witch has cast on them due to jealousy. So from these talks, hopefully some people will realize that they can decrease the risk of handicaps by doing certain things during pregnancy and during the child's infancy. All of the volunteers have spoken well and show great compentance in the things that I have trained them to do, so that is positive. It's been fun getting to see their villages as well. One village was so honored to see us cole that they danced for us (and we danced with them) and then they presented us with some eggs and a rooster! So my supervisor and I agreed that he could take the rooster if I could have the eggs. A nice gift. People are very generous here, even when they don't have a lot.
Another project is in the works as well: we are painting an AIDS mural on a wall of the elementary school in the center of town. A while back we had a drawing contest for the high school and elementary students on the topic of preventing AIDS. We chose the best and now we are painting it on the wall. It's very exciting and everyone drops by to see how the work is coming along. We'll let you know how it turns out.
Well we hope that gives you an update with us. We hope to be taking a vacation to Burkina and Mali (the countries north of us) at the end of the month. So more stories soon to come...
Have a safe and happy 4th of July!
Rebecca and Jason
PS. There are now pictures online to see. Some are from the beginning of the year and some are recent. Sorry for the delay...
The earlier pictures are in the following album:
and recent ones are:
For more detailed explanations on some of these pictures you might have to search back in past entries. Enjoy!!!