Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Watch the Footage and Discuss

>> So there was a report on ABC. It was a 20/20 episode on the safety of Peace Corps volunteers. Go to youtube and you can find it pretty easily; I believe it's in three parts. BUT. It's bad. It made me and other volunteers very angry to see the organization that I have such a great deal of pride in made to seem irresponsible, incompetent, and unnecessary. Like any large organization (especially a government one), Peace Corps has its hiccups, but for the most part every effort is taken to ensure our safety. What the girls in those videos don't elaborate on is that they were drunk, out really late, being irresponsible, and made poor choices. They make it sound like Peace Corps owes them an apology when we are taught from the beginning to take every decision seriously and to acknowledge that, in case you forgot, (HOW COULD YOU FORGET?!), that you are not in America and that all of the rules you've learned from childhood are worthless and SAFETY is YOUR responsibility. I've made some dumb choices while here but nothing anywhere near the bad choices these interviewed girls did. Go watch it. I love and miss you all :)

Sunday, February 13, 2011


>> Thank you, Capital Radio. This past week, on a grumbly Wednesday morning, I got up early, turned on Capital Radio, and sat outside with a cup of the morning palm wine. (The morning palm wine is sweeter while the evening palm wine is bitter). DD (Douglas Davis) plays a song I requested, ("It Feels So Good" by Sonique), and then a random dance track I didn't know. He then played a second song I requested, ("We No Speak Americano"). There have been moments when I've been so frustrated with students or with language that I've wanted to pack it up and give up. BUT. The moments like this? When I'm dancing around my porch in my boxers with a cup of palm wine and I don't really care who sees me (since they would be making comments regardless of my dancing skills)? They make it worth it. I love and miss you all.. :)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Gone to the Dogs

>> Forgive my lame blog post title. Those of you with weak constitutions should get kleenex ready. For those of you that know me, you know I am a lover of animals, specifically dogs. Cats are okay (Carm's cat being one notable example) but I'm a dog person. Foday's dog is Justice. Old Woman's dog is Tink. They got together and had two puppies. One is Freedom. One is Queen. You guess which is mine. Moving on. Old Woman came in the middle of the night and stole Freedom and gave it to another family. I was pissed. This was resolved by Foday talking to her and, in the end, conceding. In Sierra Leone, age takes precedence over.. everything. Even though she came to my house in the middle of the night and STOLE a dog, she's older so it was right. This started a debate because I had been feeding Freedom and Queen (and Tink for that matter) although Old Woman said that since Tink is her dog that the puppies are Tink's that it is up to her to decide what to do with them. This was two months ago. Fast forward. // I'm sitting on my porch with a cup of palm wine and Capital Radio, some papers and a good book (likely from my Aunt Gail) when I see Tink run up with a vine leash around her. She's obviously in a panic. She's never in a leash and she's whining like crazy. Children run up and start dragging Tink away. I stop them. "What are you doing with Tink?!" They freak out and explain that they are taking them to the Old Woman. To KILL her. I call Sanday, my "house-boy" or "best friend" or "boy I'm paying for his education so he helps with chores and tasks" to walk with me to see Old Woman to have a dialogue. It went something like this: OW: "Tink ate 40 eggs. I am going to kill her." BM: "No. I will not allow you to kill this dog over eggs. What other options are there?" OW: "She ate 40 eggs. I have already hired men to find Tink and kill her." BM (crossing arms and getting into *angry* posture ((those that know me know this posture and that things don't end well))) : "If you hire men to come and kill Tink, I will put myself BETWEEN Tink and the men. You are NOT killing this dog. What are our OTHER options." Old Woman took a moment to think about this, a large scowling white man looking like a thunderstorm, a stupid dog named Tink sitting at his feet, and a stalemate. Guess who conceded? Old Woman says, "Okay. Fine. If you build a gate so Tink cannot get to the hens, I will not kill her." Done and done. The price of this gate? About $5. For the most part, I love my time in Sierra Leone, but I REFUSE to compromise what I believe in, especially what I am passionate about, namely dogs. I love and miss you all... :)

Friday, February 11, 2011


>> There have been developments! I see you spilled your drink in excitement. I'll wait while you clean it up. K. I have turned in two proposals to the United States Embassy in regards to my secondary project. Here, our primary responsibility is teaching (at least us being education volunteers) but we are also supposed to organize a secondary project to benefit our school and our community. Some other volunteers have just begun to start thinking about the idea of maybe doing a proposal. I have two completed. Just saying. But in all honesty, the feedback has been positive and I'm hopeful that one of the proposals will be approved. Although this brought up a conversation about the typical mindset here in relation to NGO handouts, my projects are centered around chairs and desks that are desperately needed and nothing at all that could be considered a luxury item. // We've all hit what is being called 'cultural fatigue' aka 'we're tired of being frustrated and would like it to be better now kthanxbai.' In all honesty, I would say about 75% of the volunteers have gotten to a wall and are either angry, frustrated, or short of patience, but the good news is that some volunteers (myself included) are past the wall and looking at brighter pastures ahead. Or, I should say, we've found something to focus on to distract ourselves. I have a get-together at my place the first weekend in March (I'M MISSING UNOFFICIAL) and then my parents visit at the end of March. Other positive news includes my village adjusting to me (?) and less arguments / awkward moments with language. We've come to an understanding of my language skills, how fast I'm learning, and they seem to now be okay with that. I love and miss you all.. :)