Monday, December 14, 2015

The 24/7 Job

I have so much fun here, but sometimes its important to remind myself that Peace Corps is a job. Its a 24/7 job; we are watched in village, serve as educators and cultural ambassadors and have 2 years to become trust members of our community. While most of this just takes time, Peace Corps give us the tools and training to get it all done.

But even at training there's time for visiting my favorite fruit stand!

For the last 9 days, the volunteers from Stage 28 have been completing the last requirements for our technical training. Last week, our homologue's joined us for five days of malaria programming. We learned everything from biology, transmission, symptoms and prevention strategies. This was complemented by a visit from the CDC representative from the Presidents Malaria Initiative, who oversees all of the Malaria programming in Benin for the US government.

In addition to malaria, the volunteers got to cover some pertinent material for all of us, such as resiliency, overcoming local language barriers, staying healthy and getting our flu shots. Its been great to hear about people's successes and challenges as we hit the "three months at post" mark.

After enjoying a day off on Sunday, complete with soft serve ice cream poolside (there is one pool in Lokossa!) and a later afternoon movie, we kicked off the week with a Care Group training. For those of you who don't remember, the care group model is a sustainable village approach to disseminating health education materials. Fortune, the old village chief in Adourekoman and my host dad and language tutor, joined me today for the training. He seems really enthusiastic about getting this set up in village and ultimately improving community health!

Its been an adjustment from village life to a structured training schedule surrounded by other volunteers. I have found that I miss village, my house and my free time. But, I promise not to hermit myself in rural Africa! I loved getting to spend chanukah with some fellow volunteers; we managed to throw together latkes, matza ball soup and even found challah (tresse or braid bread) at a local bakery. I got my fix of the latke song and was reminded of Debbie Friedman's infamous lyrics, "wherever you go there's always someone Jewish!"

Peace Corps Menorah: Birthday candles in the dust

I'll be heading back to village on Wednesday with big plans for the end of the year and ways to kick off 2016!

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