Site, MY VERY OWN Site!!

Finally as a Bemba while others knew where they will be located, I did not
know. I had three choices: Luapula, northern, and Central Provinces.


I say choice because it is more than the others got even though I still now
choose my final site.


I am first generation volunteer at Lunchu B in Central Province. My closest
family will be John Bwalya with ten people in his family.


Distance to nearest school: 800M

Distance to nearest clinic: 600M

Distance to market: 800M with vegetables, grocery foods and goods
available.


My water source is a mono pump and it is 600M from my site.


I am so excited that I cannot believe that I have a home in this large
country. I have a home here now in Zambia and I am so excited.

View text
  • 1 week ago

Crystal Clear Sounds of Silence

On Sunday mornings, I am excited for my extra hour of sleep under the black
tarp over my bed that dims my room to perfect sleep inducing temperature
and solace. I jump for glee in my mind for the Sunday Morning.

But my mind turns.


During the week, I am awake and running around and talking to him an her
but all from America. I always knew I would love my group of Chips but
Sundays remind me of the remote life I will be living. Friends will not be
half a km away, or even a bike ride away. Church cannot be with them at
your site. You can turn to the only American and roll your eyes at your
shared experience. Your giggles cannot be so uncontrollable that you and
they are shushed. Inside jokes fade away. They will. Memories fade and it
will get harder.

My mind streams fast on thoughts such as these on a cold morning. My family
do not leave for Church. But I will have to join the family at my site.
alone. No more Americans from training to run to and dispel my daily
activities and cultural exchange.


When I walk, excited for my Sunday, I am to remember the Sundays, our bikes
whizzed on the fresh tarred road as our names were called out by school
children. Where we felt together and happy part of something rather than
hearing out words alone. Answering them in broken Bemba and not be able to
laugh at ourselves and almost fall off our bike.


Social groups are important. They help you sustain and keep yourself sane
in a world where everyone’s eyes are on you.


Training has been a hectic schedule with studying and lessons and sessions
taking every moment of the week away and leaving Sunday to drain us and
bore us. So many sounds outside and I only hear silence.


Sundays bring out the voices inside your head. It poisons your confidence
and eats away at your loneliness. Your need to speak English bed you to
find someone who understands.


But hold on for the breeze will tear into the cold you feel and the warm
sun will suddenly be blinding and the room you have will seem the safe home
you should stay until you can sleep and bring tomorrow closer. But do not
despair.

Do not despair. For you will harden. You will create and you will find to
fill up that Sunday. With people of your country and goals. Small at first.
One at a time. You will no longer feel that Sundays trick you with their
time. Find that you wanted time and then too much time. For your service
will test you. Test you to search the the heart that wants to hide in the
shadows. But step out, into the blinding light and find no fear there. No
fear if you don’t speak English for three or four hours or even the day
until night releases you. Do not fear being free. Do not fear freedom in an
unknown land.


For it may even heal you.

View text
  • 1 week ago

Crystal Clear Sounds of Silence

On Sunday mornings, I am excited for my extra hour of sleep under the black
tarp over my bed that dims my room to perfect sleep inducing temperature
and solace. I jump for glee in my mind for the Sunday Morning.

But my mind turns.


During the week, I am awake and running around and talking to him an her
but all from America. I always knew I would love my group of Chips but
Sundays remind me of the remote life I will be living. Friends will not be
half a km away, or even a bike ride away. Church cannot be with them at
your site. You can turn to the only American and roll your eyes at your
shared experience. Your giggles cannot be so uncontrollable that you and
they are shushed. Inside jokes fade away. They will. Memories fade and it
will get harder.

My mind streams fast on thoughts such as these on a cold morning. My family
do not leave for Church. But I will have to join the family at my site.
alone. No more Americans from training to run to and dispel my daily
activities and cultural exchange.


When I walk, excited for my Sunday, I am to remember the Sundays, our bikes
whizzed on the fresh tarred road as our names were called out by school
children. Where we felt together and happy part of something rather than
hearing out words alone. Answering them in broken Bemba and not be able to
laugh at ourselves and almost fall off our bike.


Social groups are important. They help you sustain and keep yourself sane
in a world where everyone’s eyes are on you.


Training has been a hectic schedule with studying and lessons and sessions
taking every moment of the week away and leaving Sunday to drain us and
bore us. So many sounds outside and I only hear silence.


Sundays bring out the voices inside your head. It poisons your confidence
and eats away at your loneliness. Your need to speak English bed you to
find someone who understands.


But hold on for the breeze will tear into the cold you feel and the warm
sun will suddenly be blinding and the room you have will seem the safe home
you should stay until you can sleep and bring tomorrow closer. But do not
despair.

Do not despair. For you will harden. You will create and you will find to
fill up that Sunday. With people of your country and goals. Small at first.
One at a time. You will no longer feel that Sundays trick you with their
time. Find that you wanted time and then too much time. For your service
will test you. Test you to search the the heart that wants to hide in the
shadows. But step out, into the blinding light and find no fear there. No
fear if you don’t speak English for three or four hours or even the day
until night releases you. Do not fear being free. Do not fear freedom in an
unknown land.


For it may even heal you.

View text
  • 1 week ago

Site, MY VERY OWN Site!!

Finally as a Bemba while others knew where they will be located, I did not
know. I had three choices: Luapula, northern, and Central Provinces.


I say choice because it is more than the others got even though I still now
choose my final site.


I am first generation volunteer at Lunchu B in Central Province. My closest
family will be John Bwalya with ten people in his family.


Distance to nearest school: 800M

Distance to nearest clinic: 600M

Distance to market: 800M with vegetables, grocery foods and goods
available.


My water source is a mono pump and it is 600M from my site.


I am so excited that I cannot believe that I have a home in this large
country. I have a home here now in Zambia and I am so excited.

View text
  • 1 week ago

Attitude Counts

Living life out in another country broadens and stretches your inner tranquility. It pushes you to be incredibly different and react different. Traveling is not changing addresses or food habits but having the right attitude. Having the attitude that strives after defeat, that cares for each and every one more than yourself and to see the silver lining instead of the dense fog overhead. Zambia is no different. One month. One month I have been here and attitude is the one thing I am proud to have brought in my suitcase. One month and I have been robbed. One month and that same day, my host sister passed away with mysterious malaria like symptoms. One month and I have cried. One month. It was enough. Zambia did not wait for me to be ready or for me to get used to Zambia. Zambia did not wait or surprise me before I began to love my host family and my loving sisters. Before I helped take care of my host sister’s child. Before I compared the life of a twenty two year old traveler out of college and a twenty five year mother of three year twin boys and a seven month old baby boy with smuggled nuts in his cheeks like a squirrel. I loved them and shared so much with my family than I ought to. I lucked out with my homestay. I am so lucky and in one month, I fell. After that horrible twelve hours, the last thing I wanted to think about was the girl who stole money from my window. Money can be returned. Jewelry can be remade. But losing a sister I actually loved… Be careful of wanderlust. A drug so powerful can break you and force you to push yourself and your bank account. But if you have the right attitude, you can ride its highs and brave it’s lows. This week has been too hard on me. And sometimes I cry at night for her. I cry for being so helpless and then when I think that there was actually nothing I could’ve done. She was 25. Attitude counts. In twelve hours, Zambia has tested me and through a flu, I had to mourn. Zambia has tested me but I will brave this.

I’ve packed light but I sure as hell packed well.
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  • 1 week ago
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  • 1 month ago

Best Nights

The last two nights, Tuesday and Wednesday or June 18 and 19 , were the most beautiful nights of my life. I could live under these stars for all my days. They move and flicker, living above us and breathing. They shine so bright with the Milky Way cloud stretching white to purple and crimson shots of light across the sky. Constellations are so vivid that I wonder what we are doing back home. Pumping so much smoke and separating us from this brilliant lights that actually move and twinkle. I almost confused them with airplane lights that stayed still. I feel blessed to stand user their glow. I wanted this and I did it. I chose peace corps and never swayed. I didn’t let anybody stop me or convince me otherwise. I am incredibly proud of myself because these lights are unforgettable.
I woke up on the last day with the five PCVs I came with to first site visit with animal noises bothering us. One friend Jodi just says, “Whats with the pigs honking and the roosters roosting?” I laughed so hard I woke myself up and used the chimbudzi or outdoor bathroom.
After a great outdoor shower and laundry hand done, we headed out our current PCV Sue to the clinic but we drove out to an Outreach area for children’s health week. We were cramped inside of a hot car with my friend on my lap and I was glad to get out into the hot sun. It’s the cold season now and the breeze was wonderful. The heat was not but better than inside of that car. Immediately after we arrived we weighed almost 35 babies, 16 toddlers and 6 older children who just held on to the scale hook instead of the bag seat. I was writing down weights when I saw a baby pee his pants when Jodi was helping him into the seat. I was glad for a moment but I remembered this won’t be the last pee pants I’ll see. We bought sweet potatoes after which I learned is different from yams. Sweet potatoes are yellow and look alike to yellow potatoes but taste sweet. We asked for embacilla or gift. They gave us double the amount. Here it is a custom. If asked, they give something extra and we haggle everything. We gave to fight for prices and we have to be upset with the final price as a custom and a sign of respect. We came back to make tomato onion cream soup with pumpkin seeds toasted in our makeshift coal oven. I learned how to cook with charcoal and put hot coals over the lid to bake like an oven. Sue never tried pumpkin seeds and it was so good!! We shared with her host family. They liked it so much they shook their heads in shame saying, “We’ve been misusing them for so long!” Cultural exchange already happening my friends!!!
Hopefully they make more after we leave. That is what sustainable development means.
Note: tomorrow we will return to the barn for medical session about diarrhea and then we will meet our host family. For three months I will be in training until I swear in on Aug. 31.
Atate or host father took us to his 2.5 acre “garden”. There were long rows of banana and guava, agave, mangos, oranges and a forest of sugar cane. I ate a whole stick of sugar cane and it was the best idea. No matter what I said hours later. Atate cut two long stems for us for the ride back to the motel as well as bulbous lemons. Jodi ate a guava for the first time while Atate laughed at us trying to pull the sugar cane with our teeth when he could do it in seconds. With a knife, he cut to the middle and gave it back to is as Popsicles. He laughed at me so hard because I pulled at the sugar cane so hard it hit my head. I was embarrassed but he laughed and apologized saying he would never truly laugh at his daughters. He tried to say our names: Meg-Ann, Joe-dee, Katherine, Emerie or Emily and Genny or Ginny. He is a kind man and I hope I am lucky to have a host father who is truly a father as Atate is for Sue. I felt so lucky today, meeting incredible people and hopefully my site will be my second home with a great family.
That is the essence of peace corps. It’s not flying to another country and serving to help and build schools. Peace Corps defines it’s service as creating lasting relationships between countries because it is a belief that we all are one united people and borders do not matter. Training starts soon and language classes for almost six hours and technical training in the community. I am kind of afraid about that but still it’s gonna be hard when I get my own community so why not start now. I miss food already. Like cheese pizza and pepper flakes and butter noodles and iced tea. I miss like pop tarts and gross processed stuff too. But that’s cause the family I live with don’t make this. Once I have my place I can make my favorite foods. Pizza might be a little difficult. We saw a snake yesterday and everyone screamed. Apparently Zambians hate snakes and in moments they killed it. This is not the last snake I’ll see and I hate snakes so that frightens me. But since Zambians hate them I’m gonna scream and watch them take care of it. Definitely making a screen door for my house cause snakes like cool areas and slither into houses apparently. According to some current peace corps volunteers. Ugh.
So I’m learning Bemba and that means I can go to either North, Luapula, or Central province. Other people know where they are going based on their languages like Nyanja is Eastern and Tonga is southern. I really want to go to Central. It will be closest to the capital and though Luapula has the greatest waterfalls, there are three times more snakes there.
My host family teaches me Bemba everyday and I forget it moments later but they are such sweet people. I feel like a real daughter to them. My Amai is so nice that she makes me lunch and drops it off at training so it is still hot to eat. Amai means mother and instead of me calling her by her name she wants me to call her mother. When she left to pick up her little son she said that to not worry and that your mother will return.
I feel so safe here and my hut feels like home since I’ve hung up pictures and made it mine. I have my bike now and I hate having to always wear a skirt and riding it is difficult but now I am free to move around as I please. I think I have named her Susie. Like Susie Carmichael from the Rugrats. I’ve learned bike maintenance and everything about taking apart to putting together a bike durin training but I feel like if a situation arose where I have to use my knowledge…..but at least they gave me a manual for bike maintenance. I just need to carry it around everywhere. That totally sounds fun. But I do know some things and I can’t wait to own my own bike when I get back. Mountain biking is gonna be fun when I know how to fix things. Language classes start soon and I’m excited because my teacher is going to teach us in the village so we will use the language rather than read from a chalkboard. Community based training is pretty fun and exciting. It’s going to help me learn the language better. Thursday my first letters will be here and I can’t wait to read them. Technical training starts with maternal health at the church here and it’ll be one of the projects I will work with after training. Eleven weeks of this and testing and many challenges ahead.
Chokumlopo mukwai or good evening!

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  • 1 month ago

Lusaka Shopping For First Site Visit

We received a medical safety kit with crappy band aids and leaking bug spray but with a large tube of sunscreen and Chapstick. I was so excited!! I need a lot of Chapstick!!! I got a rabies vaccine so I touched the tame cats and rubbed them. I heard them purr and I was done. I am getting a cat for my house!!! For the next few days, I got to know so many PCVs in such little time that it makes sense why we’d become a “family”. But after a few days of hotel living and cat belly rubbing, we went shopping. The crazy thing was I though we’d get out to see real Zambia but in the end, we came to KFC and Indian food and subway. Expensive stores and grocery stores lined the walls. Immense amounts of wealthy people. I got a creamy donut and a delicious coffee and with lips covered in sugar, I skipped along and got a sim card for my phone. That day, we had a group buying groceries for our first site visit. Tomorrow we are going to visit a current PCV and observe her day to day till Thursday.
Our first site visit was at Eastern Province with a volunteer named Sue.
Monday Morning: a six hour long drive in a land cruiser. So much of my PCVs were patient with me with my large luggage. We bought bananas on the way. We slept and hated the whole road trip but on e we came to the village of Chandi. We met Sue out and met the small hut. It was one room by definition but it was divided into a bedroom and a sitting room. Efficient but Sue had made it beautiful. People I’ve met during the day have been incredibly kind. Guinea hens and black fur pigs roamed the area while stray dogs wandered after looking for scraps. We cooked from late in the afternoon to early evening just for dinner and the sun had set by them. Chunky pasta sauce with garlic bread slices. Delicious.
The land here sleeps at around five. All year the sun sets at five lulling the village asleep. We met Sue’s counterpart, an extremely helpful intelligent man named Reuben. His son was so cute speaking English asking how are you and I am fine. His wife was so curious asking where USA was as she had only visited the nearby town twice in her life. In the morning, we went with Sue’s host grandfather and also the councilor to the village to visit the chief in the village. With almost two wives and a drinking problem, he was not Ambuyah’s (grandfather) favorite or the villages as he wasted his time with booze and women but not with his village. He never looked at me eye to eye and didn’t speak English and asked us to write in his guest book. We said our thanks and we left to go to the clinic. The sun was draining and I was tanning with bad tan lines. At the clinic, we met volunteer workers who were so dedicated to the cause. They even work substitute work when professionals are away. We then visited the school and asked high school kids questions about HIV and clinic. For right answers they got candy. They were brilliant but I hope they use the knowledge to protect themselves. We returned and went out again to fetch water. Luckily, the bore hole where water is pumped is right across the street. The water was heavy but younger girls were fine carrying larger full loads. I’ll get better, I thought.
I heard drumming since we got gone and apparently the older women drum all day in the celebration of a girl becoming a woman. It is a ceremony known as chinewale.
We ate an amazing great lunch of grilled cheese and zamfries which are oil fried wedges, soaked in grease. I wiped most of it off onto my chitenge which is a versatile piece of fabric used as a wrap skirt. It is pronounced chit-ten-gay and is used from skirt to towel and baby carrier. From now on I will list the uses and number them:
1. Skirt
2. Carry water or groceries
3. Rope
4. Baby carrier
5. Cut up for fabric
6. Curtain
7. Towel
8. Blanket
9. Made into backpack
10. Shoes
11. Made into suits or dresses

Maybe I’ll write a published list of 101 Ways To Use A Chitenge.

View text
  • #chapstick #medical kit #water #village living #lusaka #chongwe #mozambique so close #zambia #peace corps
  • 1 month ago

We received a medical safety kit with crappy band aids and leaking bug spray but with a large tube of sunscreen and Chapstick. I was so excited!! I need a lot of Chapstick!!! I got a rabies vaccine so I touched the tame cats and rubbed them. I heard them purr and I was done. I am getting a cat for my house!!! For the next few days, I got to know so many PCVs in such little time that it makes sense why we’d become a “family”. But after a few days of hotel living and cat belly rubbing, we went shopping. The crazy thing was I though we’d get out to see real Zambia but in the end, we came to KFC and Indian food and subway. Expensive stores and grocery stores lined the walls. Immense amounts of wealthy people. I got a creamy donut and a delicious coffee and with lips covered in sugar, I skipped along and got a sim card for my phone. That day, we had a group buying groceries for our first site visit. Tomorrow we are going to visit a current PCV and observe her day to day till Thursday. 
Our first site visit was at Eastern Province with a volunteer named Sue. 
Monday Morning: a six hour long drive in a land cruiser. So much of my PCVs were patient with me with my large luggage. We bought bananas on the way. We slept and hated the whole road trip but on e we came to the village of Chandi. We met Sue out and met the small hut. It was one room by definition but it was divided into a bedroom and a sitting room. Efficient but Sue had made it beautiful. People I’ve met during the day have been incredibly kind. Guinea hens and black fur pigs roamed the area while stray dogs wandered after looking for scraps. We cooked from late in the afternoon to early evening just for dinner and the sun had set by them. Chunky pasta sauce with garlic bread slices. Delicious. 
The land here sleeps at around five. All year the sun sets at five lulling the village asleep. We met Sue’s counterpart, an extremely helpful intelligent man named Reuben. His son was so cute speaking English asking how are you and I am fine. His wife was so curious asking where USA was as she had only visited the nearby town twice in her life. In the morning, we went with Sue’s host grandfather and also the councilor to the village to visit the chief in the village. With almost two wives and a drinking problem, he was not Ambuyah’s (grandfather) favorite or the villages as he wasted his time with booze and women but not with his village. He never looked at me eye to eye and didn’t speak English and asked us to write in his guest book. We said our thanks and we left to go to the clinic. The sun was draining and I was tanning with bad tan lines. At the clinic, we met volunteer workers who were so dedicated to the cause. They even work substitute work when professionals are away. We then visited the school and asked high school kids questions about HIV and clinic. For right answers they got candy. They were brilliant but I hope they use the knowledge to protect themselves. We returned and went out again to fetch water. Luckily, the bore hole where water is pumped is right across the street. The water was heavy but younger girls were fine carrying larger full loads. I’ll get better, I thought. 
I heard drumming since we got gone and apparently the older women drum all day in the celebration of a girl becoming a woman. It is a ceremony known as chinewale. 
We ate an amazing great lunch of grilled cheese and zamfries which are oil fried wedges, soaked in grease. I wiped most of it off onto my chitenge which is a versatile piece of fabric used as a wrap skirt. It is pronounced chit-ten-gay and is used from skirt to towel and baby carrier. From now on I will list the uses and number them:
1. Skirt
2. Carry water or groceries
3. Rope
4.  Baby carrier
5.  Cut up for fabric
6.  Curtain
7. Towel
8.  Blanket
9.  Made into backpack
10.  Shoes 
11.  Made into suits or dresses

Maybe I’ll write a published list of 101 Ways To Use A Chitenge. 

View text
  • 1 month ago

Staging to Barn Motel

Immediately I got off the plane and was last in line with a huge carry on. But I was stopped because of my lucky bracelets and though it was exciting, I would’ve like to avoid to a pat down. On the connecting flight, two women breast fed their babies out in public and the girl next to me joked. 
“Well, we have to get used to many thing now.”
We sat next to a local Zambian and he told us of the beauty and incredible kindness of his people  When the drink cart came, we all were convinced to get three cokes and the flight attendant laughed. She looked to us and said,
“What is the mind if it cannot be changed?”
What is this if not true? The beauty of this world and it’s people is our ability to evolve. Always accept change. 
When we arrived, Peace Corps helped us and took pictures. We got the first taste of diversity when the white PCVs were helped with their luggage and others were not even considered. I had to get my own bags and Theresa, an older PCV were pushed aside for the darkness of our skin. We are not wealthy white Americans. 
Driving through Zambia was like an opening into India. Everything was alike to it but it was going to be more than just a resemblance to me. It was going to be my home, sweet home. 
We arrived at the Barn Hotel which was not the true Zambia. It was a hotel with spacious yard and pool with cold or scalding hot water. Not both. Even our mosquito nets had holes the size of our hands. At the first meal, someone said they found a cat sleeping on their toilet seat. I saw it with its sibling but I avoided it because I wouldn’t get a rabies shot till the next day. All I remember was falling asleep immediately but before I closed my eyes, I realized I will sleep under a halo of mosquito nets for the next two years.

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  • #staging #the real staging
  • 1 month ago
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  • 1 month ago

Staging and Living at Zambia Hotel: Cats Everywhere

Staging to Airport
So saying goodbye was incredibly dreadful. I knew if I cried, I wouldn’t want to go but in the end after standing int he wrong line and getting my passport, staging started. So as I went through the repeated lectures of common sense and bonding time with the fellow volunteers, we celebrated our last night at TGI Fridays. I know boring but it was close, cheap and we were tired. That night, we packed our bags again from the hotel and was bused to the airport, four hours early. Apparently, to prevent anyone from missing a plane…so in the end, we slept on the floor for hours. My luggage was INCREDIBLY overweight but when it became seven, I check in my bags and they did not care! I had almost sixty pounds each! Seriously… I was surprised.
So in the end, waiting and going to the airplane was exactly what you think it was. Long and boring and filled with airplane food. Couldn’t sleep. Calves hurt but arrived at Johannesburg, early in the morning only to be shuffled away to the next flight.
We arrived in Lusaka in the afternoon at 12 only to have WiFi for moments (posted on facebook as soon as i could) and then we were loaded up and given pictures to and it was crazy. But it was exciting. I looked horrible.


The Barn Motel
Peace corps used this motel for so long that it was a campsite. Beautiful gorgeous trees and incredible food and seriously great events. There are no mosquitoesbut there are cats and bugs everywhere. It is like India except there are different food. They feed us so much in the first few days. Five meals plus tea and coffee. Seriously, they need to realize they are building up our expectations for our food. Still I ate well and slept worse cause they keep us incredibly busy FOR so long with seminars about Safety to Health training requirements to problems and situations. I am going to be living with a family for three months until training is over around September but afterwards, I will be moving to a residential area. I don’t know all the details but when i get back into town, I will find a internet cafe and write it down. However, that is one thing that everyone must understand. Internet and even electricity or hot water is not available to me. So if you worry about me, I will worry. And it is quite frustrating already. So please, just be patient and understanding of my location and situation. In the end, we are going to be separated, group of 64 into two groups, CHIP and RED. I am in chip or community health imporvement program. Tomorrow, we are going to visit other volunteers who are living in the village right now and we are going to observe and help them and see what life is like in the village. It is exciting becasue right now I stilll don’t feel like a volunteer but once i see them, I’ll know I’ll be one very very soon. Training is going to be the hardest part of the two years apperently but I am ready!

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  • #staging #zambia
  • 1 month ago
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  • 1 month ago
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  • #peace corps #zambia #countdown
  • 1 month ago
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  • 1 month ago
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