27 January, 2015

Deep Thoughts on 2015 from the Village.....

Long time my friends…

First of all, Happy Holidays! Hope you all had a good one
Second  - Happy New Year! Hope it finds you all well and safe and happy and healthy!

I had the opportunity to spend it in Zambia – in Livingstone – seeing Victoria Falls – one of the wonders of this world! And wow – it was amazing. I highly recommend making your way to Africa and seeing this wonder! And I’m definitely going back. I went with my good PCV friend, Crystal (check out her blog at     ), and met up with my sister and her boyfriend! So, finally, I got her over to Africa :) We had a wonderful time, and it was great to see them, and learn a little about Zambia, its culture and people.

I also celebrated a birthday while there! Well, it actually just passed, but since I was with family and on vacation, I just decided that would be my birthday celebration. I was humbled by the gift I received from my sister….well, actually, it’s from many people…
It’s a scrapbook, with pictures and letters from family and friends – and they all brought tears to my eyes – good tears, of course. And it came at the perfect moment for me – when, even though I had decided to stay a 3rd year, I needed some motivation, pick-me-up, words-of-advice, inspiration, whatever-you-want-to-call-it to continue on – with a positive attitude. And this book did it. So – to all those who were a part of this gift (and I am in the process of emailing each one of you, individually) THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!!

You know, everyone has new year’s resolutions, etc. They think of the new year as a new beginning. I guess I’ve always been lucky – I always think of the “new year” as beginning on my birthday. I mean, that is the beginning of a new year for me, correct? So, here are my NEW year’s thoughts…..

and I have many….new thoughts, ideas, etc rolling around in this brain…I will try to lay out for you all I’m thinking…

·      I’m excited to finish up a few projects here in the village.
·      I’m ready to get my BIG project (a basketball/volleyball/netball court) going – and hopefully get that done by the end of September, here in the village.
·      I’m ready to begin a new project for my third year, starting in June, in Windhoek! (Still sorting out the details)
·      I’m ready to go home for a month to see my family, friends, cat, and dog – yes, as of my birthday, he is still alive and barking!
·      I have TOOOO many books I need to finish reading while I’m here!
·      Crystal says I should watch more movies – and I have a TON on my computer….maybe I’ll get around to that during my third year….lol.
·      I’m already thinking about my trip around the world after my service, on the way to celebrate my sister’s birthday in Switzerland – and am hoping to include a little more of Africa, WWOOF, volunteering in Nepal, and maybe Southeast Asia. Or maybe I need to shorten my list…….
·      I’m worried about going back to a Westernized world.
·      I worry I won’t fit in with many “westerners”.
·      I worry that this experience has brought on a TON of passion….and I won’t have the patience for people who aren’t, at least, willing to step out of themselves and their self-absorbed, know-it-all ways to listen and learn a little about this world. (See, I’m already showing impatience!)
·      I have to go back to grad school.
·      I have to take the GREs (again!).
·      I have to find a decent graduate program – possibly online, but am looking into lots of fun options (secret for now!).
·      I will probably study Statistics, or Monitoring&Evaluation, or Analysis&Retrieval….or something of that sort.

·      I want a career in International Health/Development.

·      Until then….I need to remember that this blog is what us PCVs call “Third Goal”. It’s about teaching Americans (mainly, since the PC is part of the U.S. government – but really, all westerners) about my host country – the people, the culture, its history, etc. And so, I will continue my best at teaching you all about Namibia and this experience.             I AM THE EYES AND EARS FOR YOU, FOR THOSE WHO ARE UNABLE TO COME HERE AND EXPERIENCE IT FIRSTHAND.

Saying all of that, I do hope you are all learning something. Otherwise, what’s the point in me writing this, or you reading it? Though I do wonder – Did anyone actually take my Food Challenge? Because I never got a response/comment about it. Or did you read Dead Aid? Or Poor Economics?  I have had only 1 person email me, specifically, about these books.

So – now, I want to write about some of the reasons I needed motivation and a smack on the head, to get back to being positive, and continuing on in my service, and trying all I can to help…….

For a moment, close your eyes, and imagine you are living in another place. It could look exactly like the one you live in now. From the outside, many things look the same. Many things don’t. But, everything else – the food, the greeting, the handshake, how you bathe, how you cook, the social interaction, the work place, the expectations, the education, the language, the way of thinking – is all somewhat different. Everything. It’s not like just going from NYC down to the deep south in the States. In that case, it’s still America, and even though people have different views about things, I have realized, generally, no matter where you live, how you were brought up, your education, your family (or no family), etc – Americans all have some of the same values, thoughts, and ideas. Now, take those all away. Even if you’re imaging people dressed the same as you, standing on a road that looks just like yours in your town. Nothing else is the same.
I think the hardest challenge, and also most educational, has been learning how to live and work in a culture you are trying to understand, and getting the people to understand you, whey they don’t understand why you’re not like them. 

Confusing? Try living it. For 2 years.

I am sometimes in complete awe of these people, here in the village – their physical and emotional strength, their way of life, how they are happy happy people, and they don’t let things get to them, the way us westerners do.

And then sometimes I just want to scream out my frustrations at them - sorry I have to say this à“And you wonder why you are a developing country! Ugh”. There are certain aspects to the way they live, I can’t wrap my brain around, and I just can’t get myself to learn to do, or even want to do. I know you’re asking “What, exactly?” Well, to be honest – there are 3 big frustrations. (I want to preface this first, by saying that not all people here are this way – but it does seem to happen very often – and I hate making generalizations, but these are my real day-to-day frustrations)
1.     They don’t stand up for themselves, or for what’s right or wrong.
2.     They are scared of authority, and so are scared to approach it – even in a non-threatening way – to make things better.
3.     Their work ethic. It’s very important to show up for work. But production/results is something that is not engrained in many.

I don’t want to offend anyone who is reading this, and again, I stress, it is not ALL people here. But among many PCVs, this is a common frustration. I wonder if it’s this way in all developing countries? Maybe I need to go find out for myself….

I have also really struggled with projects. Every time I would have an idea, it would either be shot down by someone, or no one would help. And even if I openly asked “How I can help you? Are there any projects you are doing that I can help you with?”, they would say “No”.

So why the hell am I here??

There was always an excuse as to why something couldn’t get done, or why we had to postpone it. I’ve tried to be hard-headed, and still continue doing it, and nobody shows up, or nothing happens.

And when I feel that I’m constantly doing nothing, I get lazy. And when I get lazy I don’t do anything. There’s no middle ground for me. It’s all or nothing. And I hate it. I like to be busy. But I started finding myself becoming very lazy…..and this needed to change!

And my birthday book helped to change it!

So, there you have it – I have vented a bit. :)

The reality now, is that things are good. I’ve actually been very busy –
And I only have 1 term left….There are 3 terms in a year, and the first term ends on April 17, and then the learners have exams)

I’m doing another Grassroots Soccer program at the school, along with a Health Club.
My counterpart, Daniel, (who is awesomely motivated!) and I are also having another Grassroots Soccer program in the nearby village – a village in which our clinic serves. It takes about an hour and a half to walk there. And yep, no car. Maybe, if I’m lucky, I can find a ride back to my village after the club is finished each day. But I’m planning on a big ol’ NO to that….We will be going there 1-2 days a week. Yep – trekking thru the bush to another school, to help these kids!! Can’t wait!!!!

Oh, except for this Namibian sun and heat….and the beach sand I have to walk thru. Man, you would think I would have gotten better at walking thru it by now! Maybe in the next 4 months I’ll become an expert :)

I’m also meeting with my brother and niece, every day after school – to help them with their English. Nafimane really wants to become an electrical engineer. He’s in grade 9. He MUST pass grade 10, in order to go to trade school for this. He failed grad 8 3 times (here, if you fail even 1 class, you fail the entire grade). So, this is our goal. Pass grade 9 this year! Then, we’ll attack grade 10. And really, their lack of English skills, is what’s holding them back…..so this is my goal…..

Not that I’m an expert in the English language…ask my mom….but I try...

Oh, and still want to start that chess club…

So – things are looking up – in every direction – especially this Namibian sky! At night!!!

Except for the lack of rain….

This is the rainy season. Well, it’s supposed to be the rainy season. And then, in March, they start cultivating. Except it’s the end of January, and, at least, my village has gotten very little rain. The maize and mahangu have not even sprouted out of the ground. This is not good. I just hope that the rainy season will be a little later…instead of none at all….Otherwise, there will be many, many hungry people…..

So, cross fingers and toes that the skies open up….sooooooooooon……

Oh, and one more thing on my list:
I’m helping a super motivated lady, in my village, get her business going even further. No, I’m not a business volunteer, but have gotten lots of info on how to teach basic finance, and am going to help her. I looked into getting her a Kiva loan. Well, apparently, these loans are actually from some microfinance institution, which she takes the loan out from (with approximately a 25% interest rate!) and then when you give to Kiva, you’re actually giving to that loan company, and she, in turn, pays them back. Is this wrong, or no?

And last, but not least…
I finally finished making a video that will be used to help raise money for a big Basketball/Netball/Volleyball Court that I’m trying to build here! I haven’t gone into much detail, or won’t be using this video quite yet – until the group of Americans have committed to coming to the village! As soon as this happens, I will let put out all of the info….

Well, I must be getting back to work…and studying for that GRE….

Here is one album from my vacation in Livingstone, Zambia. As soon as the rest are synced, I will post the album. Enjoy!

Peace & Love,


p.s. GRE word of the day:

VENERATE: (verb)
To respect deeply

p.p.s. Here is a great article about serving in the PC - and what we learn....