Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Homey in Dahomey

The transition from stageaire to full fledged volunteer in village has been wonderful. While I was originally concerned about feeling lonely here in Benin, the idea of boredom and isolation feel so remote even from my little home in Adourekoman.

After an eventful weekend of moving in, attending church and greeting members of the community, I kicked off the week at the Health Center, where I spent the majority of the day doing prenatal consultations with my supervisor, Odette.  Before we started the consultations, Odette and I gave a brief session on the family planning methods  available here in Adourekoman.  Since we have one of the more convenient centers, women come from all of the surrounding villages for health care.  We met with the women one on one to discuss their birth plans, check on their vaccination status, encourage proper nutrition and prescribe iron pills and folic acid.  The first woman that I consulted was named Charlotte, which felt serendipitous for my first day at work.  From the center, I went back home to continue unpacking and to fetch water with some of the kids. They love coming into my house and exploring, but are also a great help when it comes to weeding, doing dishes or sweeping the house.

On Tuesday, I decided to set out early and went on a sunrise jog to explore the dirt road that passes through my village towards Dassa.  It was so calm and serene, running alongside corn fields and rows of towering palm trees.  Daniel and I were scheduled to do vaccinations in Kpakpa-Zoume that morning, but Odette was at a training in Dassa, so we had to stay and cover the center.  I spent the day running inventory on our pharmacy and preparing the books for our monthly reports.  After handwriting and counting up hundreds of columns, it reminds you that there was a world before excel. While it's not exciting work, it passes the time and I can do it while talking to all the patients that come through, practicing Idaasha and playing with the kids.

Wednesday marked my first Glazoue market day as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Amanda and her homologue, Vincent, met me in Adourekoman at 10 and we drove to Galzoue together.  She had a lot of things on her shopping list, so I followed the two of them as they bartered for some plastic storage bins, a fan (a luxury for someone with electricity!) and a toilet seat (a luxury for someone with running water!). I stocked up on beans, oranges, bananas, cooking oil and mosquito repellant coils.  We attempted to visit the post office so I can send some letters, but it was closed.  I've since learned that they have a very odd schedule that may or may not be followed on a regular basis.  

That being said, I would love to send you mail from Benin!! Just send me your address, even if you think I already have it, to!  If you would like to send me some international snail mail, my address will remain the same for the next two years:

Charlotte Mailly, PCV
Corps de la Paix Americain
01 BP 971
Cotonou, Benin
Afrique de l'Ouest

Since I've moved in to my permanent home and started decorating, it's starting to feel "homey in Dahomey."  I've hung my hammock, strung photos and letters along the wall, used my new French press and enjoy my solar shower every evening.  Wobley is loving his new freedom and can often be found in the shade of my citronella plants or chasing lizards through the aloe bushes.

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