Katey in Zambia

My adventures as a Peace Corps HIV/AIDS Project Volunteer in Zambia. *The contents of this blog are my own opinions and do not reflect those of the United States Peace Corps.*

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Community Entry Part 1

I have just arrived in Chipata for meetings after spending my first 3 weeks at my site. I was posted on August 21 in the early afternoon and .. yes... I cried when the Peace Corps truck drove away, but was fine in about 3 minutes and completely overwhelmed by all 58 people in my village coming to greet me and move things into my house for me. All in all its been an awesome 3 weeks and horrible at the same time. My community is great! There is a little girl about 4 years old who is my sidekick and by far my favorite! My hut is more like a mud mansion with two large rooms and a door separating them. I have 4 windows which is also sort of unheard of. As promised I started (or rather mentioned it to my headman and the village began to construct in warp speed compared to most Zamprojects --- 2 weeks) to build my underground mphala, which is awesome, HUGE, and deep! The meetings have been coming slowly to introduce myself to important people in the community, everyone in general, and specifically schools, health clinic staff and neighborhood health committees... all, I have finally heard, is slow because they are waiting for the mphala to be finished as it is to be "my office" and a meeting place for community groups that I work with.
Girls in my village fetch my murky water from a pond about a 15-20 minute walk away, people help me start fires for cooking, a woman helps me sweep and mop my house.. I mean really, I do nothing in the way of housework excluding boiling my water once a week and cleaning my water filter twice a week.
Now to the horrible part.. the second week I got a nasty cold and felt all alone and for a few days just wanted to get on a plane and get back to the states... but that freakout is over now, and I am happy to be here again! Knowing that I would see Josh and Liz this past tuesday for a visit in the BOMA and then an overnight trip to my village got me through a lot... man, they're great! All said and done I have probably cycled close to 300km in my time in my village... needless to say its getting easier as I go! My village is fairly secluded from everything else, including other villages and tuk-shops (which sell small items like soap, cooking oil, and cookies).. not to mention the clinics and schools I will be working with... but its nice to be able to get back to my hut at the end of the day and know everyone who is around me. I wouldn't say I have made any 'friends' in the village yet per se, but there are some really great women that will be great to chat with at length in a few weeks when my Tumbuka is EVEN BETTER... its coming along nicely now which is great!
I have been talking a lot about nutrition in my village so far becuase I am not really in a position to start any real projects yet, so casual conversations are the best mode of education now. I have been preaching about the benefits of soya A LOT.... so was thrilled when a woman in my village brought me into her house last week and said that I would be eating lunch with her that day and that they were eating "body building foods" (aka protiens) for lunch (I eat lunch with a family in my village everyday... I LOVE sima which is corn mushy stuff). I then commented, 'oh, so you have soya today from your harvest?" she replied 'no' and proceeded to reach above her head to what I thought was a rope hanging from the top of the partition wall (which is above our heads but does not reach the thatched ceiling)... but much to my fright the 1ft. rope was actually the tail of a LARGE rat.... probably 2-3ft. in length, definetely larger than a chihuahua (if thats how you spell it)... I was SO surprised and scared by the whole thing (becuase I wasn't sure if it was dead or alive... it was dead) that I just turned and walked out of her house.. needless to say I didnt eat at their house that day and wasnt allowed by their fire as they cooked this rat that resembled something from the swamp in "Princess Bride' AGGG!
There are so many stories from the village... I went to a maturity ceremony for a girl; I named a 2 day old baby Margaret and then had to pay the parents money; I RECIEVED MY VERY FIRST CHICKEN!!!!!! She was a gift from the Chief in my area and I named her Lucy, she should be producing eggs by the time I get back! WOOT!; I went to see traditional dances in a nearby village; I burnt my hand while cooking over a fire... etc. etc.
For now though, I will close and say that I miss you all, please write me as I get to check my mail twice as often as my e-mail and it is HEARTBREAKING to arrive at the postoffice after a 30km bike ride up and down hills to be told that there isn't any mail for me at that time... and ask anyone, I try to respond to your letters soon and there are usually pretty entertaining stories of my village and transportation antics!

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I HAVE BEEN WRITING YOU! and let me tell you the people at the post office are such bitches but i go because I LOVE YOU!!!! so i hope you've been getting my letters. yay for chickens.

4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

um, the above was from rach.

4:35 PM  
Anonymous kat said...

let me know when you get my letter!

9:10 PM  

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