Monday, January 18, 2010

Happy New Years!

Akwaba to 2010. I'm happy that I will be spending the entire year in Ghana (I'll travel outside the country around West Africa next year....), though I do of course miss the comfort and convenience of American life.

Life in Abunyanya is very relaxed. Though I came to site motivated and excited to start work, not that much has been done. Fortunately-or rather unfortunately, from a development point of view- I am not alone in this. Talking to my fellow PCVs I realize that none of have really done much despite being in our communities for 5 months. There is a reason for this, and I would like to kinda blame it on Peace Corps because our In Service Training, a 4 day workshop that will supply us with useful information like how to write grants and such was supposed to happen after the 3 month mark (we are encouraged to not do any work the first 3 months and focus on integration), but instead it's been nearly 6 months. But the delay in training doesn't entirely explain the molasses-like pace of the formation of programs. The truth is slow here. And the longer I live here the the more I feel my sense of urgency is deteriorating. When I call a meeting and only a handful of people show up, albeit 2 hours late, or when I go to the chief's house everyday for a week to find out where we can build a community garden and he is never there to give me an answer, or when I go to headmaster to find out on what days I can teach reproductive health and it takes him 2 weeks to tell me to come on the one day that I told him I couldn't come-because I spend that day at baby weighing at the clinic in Kpasa-I start to feel a little apathetic towards my work in development.

So the first few weeks of this year my motivation to do much more then simply living my life here-which, by the way, does take considerable effort; fetching water, washing clothes by hand, biking 6 miles to buy basic groceries and charge my iPod, ect.- was almost nonexistent. Sad, but true. However, I feel the wind changing. I took those down weeks to reevaluate what programs I would like to do and site and when I feel eager and excited to begin them. So much so that when it came time to travel to Kumasi for IST (where I am at this very moment), I kinda didn't want to go, even though it means that I get to see my friends and enjoy electricity, running water, free Internet, good food, ect. I'm sure that this training will be beneficial to my service, but after traveling for Thanksgivings (I went to Accra) and Christmas (spent in Nkwanta and Ho Hoe) I really want to be stuck at site for a good 2-3 months before I leave the Northern Volta Region again.

What do I have planned for these few months? Well, twice a week I will be teaching at the school at the upper primary and Junior high levels, focusing on health, the environment, and youth development. Twice a month I will meet with two different women's group to talk about various health topics. I have formed an Environment club composed of 10 boys and 10 girls ages 12-19 and we are going to build a community garden where we will introduce new vegetables into the community, plant trees, clean up trash, and learn about nutrition, climate change, deforestation/desertification, soil erosion, ect. I will also, hopefully, soon be writing a SPA (small program assistance) grant to receive funding to build latrines in my community. As of now, only about half of the population of Abunyanya has a household latrine and about half of those are spoiled. The impact that this program could have on the spread of diarrheal disease from flies is huge, so I hope we can receive funding and build them before the rainy season begins again in May/June. There are a dozen other ideas/plans floating around in my head, but I need to learn to relax and focus on each project at a time before I get way over my head.

Life is never really boring here, regardless of the slow pace of it all. As one volunteer said, we need to appreciate the daily challenges and opportunities for creativity we face every day....we will probably never be challenged like this again.