letter home- september 2016.

I haven’t had time to finish any post lately, so decided to share an email I sent home to family and friends almost exactly a year ago. Funny how things change in the matter of one year. Enjoy!

Wa lala po nawa! (Good Morning!)

I can’t believe yet another pumpkin spice latte season is upon us. And while you, my friends, are enjoying the break from the intense summer rays, and relishing in the crisp air that autumn has in store, I am now on the cusp of summer. It’s really hot! I thought living in Texas would be the best preparation for me, and in some cases it is. But, with little cloud coverage and no humidity most days, I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the Namibian sun.

Some things I thought I would never get used to 1) Taking a cold shower. Yes, I have an outdoor shower which only has cold water. I just imagine that I am rinsing off at the beach and it gets me through the misery. 2) Waking up by 7 am most days. I am actually really proud of myself. If it’s not the roosters or kids (goats and humans), it’s one of my host siblings knocking on my door to ask for sugar, matches, or the key to the house (I have the spare key to the main house just in case I have to tinkle at night). 3) Cooking using a crockpot and kettle most days. I have access to the main house, but since I keep all my food in my room, it’s easier to prepare meals on my own, in my room. Pinterest has been a god sent, and I have learned to make cakes, bread, soups, sweet potato fries and much more in it. I also learned I can boil pasta and eggs in my kettle, so that’s another PC lifehack.

So, you probably want to know more about what the heck I am doing here. Besides blogging and cooking and hanging out with the kids (who sometimes drive me crazy). Well, as some of you know, the first 3 months are site are meant for building connections in my community, learning about the needs of the community, and learning the language. So, in the grand scheme of things, the first 3 months I haven’t done much. I say that in the sense of. I am not teaching nutrition classes (yet), I am not planting gardens (yet), etc. This time is more about “taking the temperature” of the community and making sure the work that will be done is sustainable.

Ten days ago marked the end of my 90-day probation where I am allowed to beginning projects. My current project is the Girls Club. Believe it or not, although I am very excited to get it up and going, I was not very enthusiastic about it from the beginning. Mainly because I don’t see myself as a teacher and it is extremely stressful for me to prepare weekly agenda with the limited resources we have. And.. we all know the attitudes teenage girls have! LET’S BE HONEST! The first week about 1/3 of the initial sign-ups showed up, and the information in the toolkit was boring. Like, I was even bored. So, week 2, I decided to change things up. I found a flipchart and had the girls write down topics that wanted to cover in Girls Club. Each week we will dive into the topics they are interested in and go from there. Topics the girls want to talk about: HIV/AIDS, relationships, and of course fashion to name a few. Each week, I find a little more confidence in leading these future leaders and hope that the change in the club material will excite the girls more and gain a little more interest from their fellow learners.

This weekend, I decided to get my home garden going. Our first attempt at germinating our seedlings failed when I woke up in the middle of the night to a black bull outside my window eating our seeds. So, while it was still cool out yesterday, I took the kids (host siblings, not goats) out to collect materials for composting. Lucky for us, there is plenty of cow/goat/donkey poop around. Guys, I picked up cow poop with my bare hands and it wasn’t as bad as I thought. We also collected lots of green stuff (pulled leaves off of trees), brown stuff (dried leaves and mahangu reeds), and “good soil” (the kids convinced me it was good, but we had to break it up with excessive force, so we’ll see). After about 2 to 3 hours of collecting the goods, we started our compost pile outside my room. Well, I had to add water this morning which was leftover from my coffee, since our water was still out this morning. Everyone is excited about beginning the garden, I hope the excitement last as we continue to get the hardest part out of the way, which to any of you who have ever started a garden know actually starting a garden is hard work, and I can understand why some give up before the harvest.

I was trying to keep this short and sweet, but this week at the clinic, two Red Cross volunteers from Germany are coming from my neighboring town to follow our Red Cross/USAID team for the day. We planned on going out to the community garden, which I haven’t seen yet. So, it will be another adventure for me, and hopefully, this will be another way to meet and form connections with my community. Wednesday is my Girls Club and Thursday I will head out with Helvi, a Health Extension Worker, to help with rapid HIV testing.

This weekend, I was invited to be a judge for a beauty pageant in Outapi. My friend, Mandeep, is the PCV at the VTC (Vocational Training Center), and he has put a lot of hard work into planning a business bazaar in his community. Somehow a pageant fits in there. So, that’s my plan for the weekend.

Other than all the craziness, I am still blogging and journaling and soaking everything in!

Miss you all!!