I have been at my new site for a little over a month now – time has FLOWN.
Here’s the haps:
I am working with CPJSP, a French youth development program that is an implementing partner of my NGO, EDC. Basically, I’m at a youth center come vocational training center, with elements of both tied in together. I’m in the beautiful Kamonyi District, filled with waving banana trees, red dirt, and bright, bursting pink hibiscus.
A typical day:
5:00am: Wake up. It’s dark. It’s coooold, Kamonyi is coooold for equatorial Africa!
5:20am: Lace up the sneaks, and head outside for a run (this is the only time it’s possible to run without packs of small children racing after me, literally howling and barking like dogs. This is, of course, fun in it’s own way (sometimes I howl back), but not as Zen as I usually go for with a running session).
6:20am: Yoga yoga yoga. Best part of my day.
7:00am: Bucket bath! My “douche,” the outside room for bathing, is pretty nice, all things considered – it’s cement, not dirt (which is full of pesky parasites that burrow under your skin, yum!), and pretty spacious. I dig it.
7:10am: Leave douche with dripping hair and clean skin, to find crowd of men hanging outside in my compound, having been called in by our resident squatter. Love it.
7:45am: Head to CPJSP; it’s a 10 minute walk, very very close. Along the way I pass a small coffee plantation, and many children and neighbors that I am beginning to make friends with. Yells of “Uwela!” (my Kinyarwanda name) follow me down the path. In general it’s 10 minutes full of smiling, greeting, stopping to shake hands with elderly Mamas with babies on their backs and branches or bundles of grass balanced on their heads.
8:00am – 10:30am: Hang out at CPJSP; I might talk with Olivier, our secretary, about all kinds of random topics, from American marriage culture to Freudian psychology concepts (I love these conversations, you have NO idea), or I might help Valens, our M&E specialist, with some troubles with his technological forays on a recently-donated computer (we just did a lesson on window minimizing and how to save things on a “frash dlive” – it’s going well!). Most of the time, though, I hang out in the crumbling cement building we use as a teacher’s room, and lesson plan, read, or talk with any of the staff that might make their way in there.
10:30am – 11:00am: Break time with the youth! When they come out of their lessons, they’re aaalll mine. We play various games, trying to work in some English when possible. Recent favorite: duck duck goose, where it became more of a “pick the muzungu every time and then RUN HER DOOOWWWN,” and in which I got to show off my sprinting-in-a-skirt specialties.
11:20-12:00pm: English with the youth. I rotate into a different classroom each day, and we do 40 minutes of basic English. This isn’t my main job, but while we’re waiting for that project to actually start, I’ve gotta fill my time with something, and everyone seems eager for this.
12:00pm-2:00pm: Lunch with the teachers. Often digressing into lengthy meetings and discussions. Usually we have igitoki (boiled banana), beans, and rice. Sometimes there’s black tea! Favorite. There is usually a “Muzungu Moment.” For example, “Uwela, you know that so and so wants a wife. Why don’t you let him take you to Gisenyi on a beautiful trip, he’ll pay for everything, you’ll love it! Then we can talk.” Me: “Ihangane, ariko singurisha” (Sorry, I’m not for sale) – this borrows from a behavior change media campaign in Rwanda that’s plastered everywhere to combat older men buying sex from young girls with candy, promises of education, etc – basically, I’m saying “Sorry baby, I don’t need a sugardaddy.” Everyone finds this overwhelmingly funny, and quote it for daaaays.
2:00-3:30pm: More hanging around, watching the grass grow.
3:30-5:00pm: I teach English to the teachers at the school. I LOVE this – the teachers are great. Motivated, kind, and humorous. We have a lot of fun.
5:oopm – 5:30pm: Community walking – meeting people, greeting people, visiting – being a good little PCV and doing my integration while there’s still sun.
5:45pm -10:00pm: At home! Cooking, talking with my compound-mates, hanging out with Keza, their small daughter, doing laundry (in a bucket), washing dishes (in a bucket), mopping my floor, doing any extra work needing doing, writing, reading, watching movies, doing yoga, the world is my oyster. Then I pull down my mosquito net, light my candles (my house has a working socket, but no lights), and curl up for some sleep.
And there you have it folks. A day in the life.
There are many more updates, mostly pertaining to exciting PCMO adventures, but I’m going to save that for another time.
May the Force be with you!