So much easier said then believed. Ah, another week in Paradise, and it has been interesting. This week was highlighted by one great phone call, one long seminar, lots of random planning and running around and an attempt at figuring out what to do after Peace Corps….
Basically the main chunk of my week was hosting a seminar with one of the sweetest PCVs that I know. Her name is Kat. She lives in the village of Wangama and I’ve been there a couple of times. It’s a little bit farther from Njombe then I am, but it’s on the other side of the road and has just a totally AWESOME mountain, pine tree, lumber jack atmosphere. It’s sweet. The guy that’s in charge of her village government, Julio, is nothing short of hilarious. He’s probably one of the most hard working Tanzanians that I have ever met, he’s funny; he solves problems and crime and just all around rocks. I told him about some of the problems that I have been experiencing in Ikuna (theft, apathy, etc.) and he took matters into his own hands during the seminar.
It was supposed to be a seminar with 10 people from Ikuna and 10 from Wangama, but because we were not giving people money to come to the seminar, some of them dropped out. The point was to go over basically everything about HIV/AIDS (facts, what to do when someone has it, medicine, transportation to health facilities that actually have the medicine, testing, foods that help, etc..). We asked three people to come and do a teaching session (2 from NGOs and one doctor) and none of them showed up. That could have been disastrous, but we decided to just do a lot of group teaching and brainstorming. The whole point of the seminar was aimed at getting these people to help us get villagers tested for HIV/AIDS and them set up groups to help care for the people with the disease (like visting them, making food, talking to friends and family, making a legacy, helping them raise money to be able to pay for transport to the drugs, and overall ATTEMPT TO REDUCE THE STIGMA)…That’s a pretty lofty goal, but we figured WTF, ain’t got nothing else to do and it will be interesting to see what happens when it’s all over.
So, we stayed in Njombe with the 17 people that showed up from Thursday to Saturday and did all of this. Highlights included one condom demonstration with a Banana, Julio talking his ass off and making points and numbering them while he was making them (much like something I would do), a long discussion on masturbation as a way to avoid getting AIDS or STIs (or pregnant)…which totally freaked out a lot of people until we just let on that Americans do it to and it’s fine, all of the villagers of Wangama craking down on the villagers of Ikuna for letting the vill government be so stupid and lazy and a long discussion on how to change that (I loved it, they asked the people of Ikuna if I was really just supposed to do nothing here for 2 years…!), a session on planning what we are going to do with this information once we get back to the village ( Ikuna decided to start a group called MATUMAINI MAPYA, a new hope, and first work with trying to get people to go and get tested) and then a massive bitch fest about why they were not paid for their time. Sweet. I consider that a great success. No speakers, just everyone from the villages teaching everyone else…Who knows, we shall see what happens in the end with all of this. Today I am returning to the village and going to an all village meeting to introduce this new group, hopefully it will turn out to be something and they will take the advice of the people from Wangama about how to deal with a crap government….
That has basically been my week. I still feel like I’m somewhere in the gray about being here, but not going to make any rash decisions. I know what I signed up for, I just didn’t really anticipate it being this hard and lonely compounded but a bunch of totally unpredictable B.S. Thank you ALL for the awesome comments on my last really dreary blog. It feels amazing to know that so many people care. Don’t worry about me, that’s all that I can say, because I will keep on moving on here until I know that the path that I am on is no longer my path, or until the adventure is really officially over. For now I leave you with nothing but a huge smile and warm TZ energy (or cool, if you’re already hot…it is August in MI) and one picture of some of the kids and a random old man at the festival held by SPW last weekend.