27 February 2009

ridiculous things

You know you're in Peace Corps Tanzania when:

-you rejoice at rain because it means you don't have to buy/chote water, and you scramble around your house trying to find every bucket, pot, cup, hat that will hold water
-you go on a trip and buy vegetables and spices to bring back home with you, because they don't have any in your village
-you enjoy looking around markets in different towns to see what food they have that isn't available where you live
-you beep someone in America and then wonder why they haven't called you back
-you have bought one or more of the following out of bus windows: phone voucher, shoes, produce, roasted corn, juice, a hat, cashews
-you get REALLY excited about cold soda
-you receive marriage proposals on an almost daily basis
-a two hour bus ride is considered close
-people tell you that you've gotten fat after a trip
-you and other volunteers buy a cake and eat it with your hands like ugali, because that's the logical thing to do when you don't have silverware
-you're ecstatic when a meeting starts an hour late, because that's much more on time than usual
-there is an occasion at least once a month where you have to sign a guestbook of some sort
-you've started saying random words during lulls in conversation, like "Obama" or "Marekani"
-you've started doing the above with other Americans and not just Tanzanians
-your conversations with other Americans revolve around food, sex, and bowel movements (but mainly food)
-a certain level of perpetual confusion has become normal
-you're slightly weirded out when you're not the only foreigner around
-you can convey a wide variety of responses and emotions through different forms of grunting
-you drink hot tea when it's 90 degrees outside (and people think it's strange if you don't drink it)
-you have integrated the following words/phrases into your vocabulary: processing, soda and bites, needs assessment
-You know what the following acronyms mean: PST, PCT, PCV, IST, MSC, COS, OVC, PLWHA, PCMO, PEPFAR, RPCV, HCN, HBC, VAST, SPA, PCPP, PACA, PDM, APCD, VSS

04 February 2009

What am I doing here?

Note: why is Microsoft 2007 so confusing? I am going to be computer illiterate when I get back to the US.

The following is an excerpt from a report I had to write for Peace Corps, about the needs in my community and potential projects. This is a list of my project ideas:


-Health clubs: There are currently no health clubs in the community or at the primary or secondary school (apart from the life skills education at Mkang’u primary).
-Nutrition education: I think that providing basic nutrition education about balanced meals and the importance of certain nutrients and vitamins could help improve the nutritional status of the community. Providing mothers with this education could be beneficial since women are usually the family members responsible for preparing meals. This education could be done on a community-level or at the dispensary when mothers bring in their children to be vaccinated
-Permaculture projects: Nutrition education would be useless without providing people with education about growing vegetables and growing food in a more efficient manner.
-Health question box/bulletin board: There are many myths surrounding sexual/reproductive health and HIV/AIDS, and these issues are not usually talked about openly. One way to address this would be to provide a box at the secondary school where students could anonymously put in questions they have about STIs, HIV/AIDS, condoms, etc, which could be answered on a weekly basis. In addition, a bulletin board (or several) placed in the center of the village could provide basic information and answer people’s questions.
-Education about alcohol abuse
-Education about water sanitation and basic hygiene (boiling water, washing hands with soap, etc)
-Start some sort of communal health resources library
-Initiate more latrine construction
-Starting a lunch program at the schools


-Training of Teachers (TOT): This could be done on a village or ward-wide level.
-Large events/testing days to encourage more people to be tested
-Education to reduce stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS
-Encourage condom use and perform condom demonstrations
-Look into possibility of making condoms available at bars, pombe clubs, and guesthouse
-Start peer education groups at schools
-Educating men about behavior change (since most of the PLWHAs in the village are women that got it from their husbands/boyfriends)
-Show HIV/AIDS-related videos at the video places in town
-Working with OVCs: I do not know if there are many OVCs in the village, but if there are, then possible projects with OVCs include income-generating projects, psychosocial support projects (ie memory book), and making sure their basic needs are provided for
-Working with PLWHAs: Income generation and permaculture to improve nutritional status and provide funds for transportation to hospital once a month


-Teaching about compost-making to improve crop yields
-Starting a seed bank so that people have enough seeds to plant, and a variety of crops to choose from
-Training people to build water-catchment tanks, particularly those that live far away from a water source
-Building fuel-efficient stoves, which will both cut down on the amount of trees used for firewood, and potentially encourage people to boil their water since they will not have to use so much fuel

Community Development/Other

-Literacy project: I have observed when helping out at the dispensary that many women are unable to read or write. I don’t know if this is a large-scale problem in the village or if these people want to learn how to read or write, but if they do, a literacy project could be beneficial.
-Income generation projects and vocational training for out-of-school youths

-Women/Girls’ Empowerment: Women and girls are grossly underrepresented in government and in secondary education, are often very shy and afraid to speak around men, and carry the brunt of the household work. While gender inequality is a very hard thing to change, the following projects could be done to help meliorate this gender imbalance:

-Starting girls’/women’s/mamas’ groups
-Income-generating projects for women
-Finding mentors for young girls
-Having professional women or women with businesses to speak to girls about possible careers
-Life skills education
-Educating men about behavior change
-International Women’s Day celebration
-District or regional girls’/women’s conference

Basically I have a lot of project ideas and not a whole lot of ideas about how to start these projects.

Y'all should check out my friend Meesh's blog, who I have linked on the right-hand side of this page. She already has some cool projects with OVCs (0rphans and vulnerable children) going at her site.

Also, I feel like I should say something about how happy I am that Obama was elected, specifically about the ridiculousness of watching his inauguration live on tv at my neighbor's house, in my village that does not have electricity, when I've never watched a presidential inauguration in my life.