25 April 2009

More than you ever wanted to know about my life...

Want to find out what I ate for dinner last Thursday? Let me tell you...

At the end of the week I usually find myself wondering, "What the hell have I been doing with myself this week?" So I decided to keep a record of my daily activities for a week and so I could see what in fact I have been doing with myself. (The conclusion: LOTS of condom demonstrations and distributions. And not much else.) Also some of you in America are under the impression that you can't email me or write to me because you have nothing to tell me, since what I am doing is so much more exciting than what you are doing. After reading this you will see that is definitely not the case.

Thursday 4/16:

  • Taught about immune system at primary school; pretty sure students didn't understand me as usual.
  • Took bike to get fixed twice
  • Bugged fundi about when he is going to finish my furniture, and asked if he knew someone that can make me a wooden penis. Conversation was slightly less awkward than anticipated. Gave his assistant some condoms and did a condom demo.
  • Went to this "restaurant" where I am friends with the mamas, and helped kuna nazi, or grind coconut. Ate lunch.
  • Ran into the Village Executive Officer (VEO). He gave me some peanuts.
  • Talked to this Red Cross volunteer, because after being here 8 months I still can't figure out if they actually do anything here or not.
  • Came home, prepared teaching materials, made spaghetti for dinner, listened to radio, read, went to bed

Friday 4/17

  • Taught HIV basics at dispensary and helped weigh babies.
  • Came home and ate boiled peanuts for lunch
  • Went to the village, where an NGO from a nearby town had come at my request to do an HIV testing day. Kind of got into a fight with someone from the NGO because their org is apparently funded by the Catholic Church, which I didn't know, and they apparently don't really teach about condom use as a way to prevent HIV, and he was trying to accuse me of giving out condoms without explaining how to use them.
  • Showed up half an hour late for a meeting with a mama's group, which is usually on time in Tanzania, but almost everyone had left by the time I arrived. I explained for the 50th time that I cannot give them money to start their chicken-raising project, but if they each contribute money each month they will have enough money. Desperately tried to think of other things I could teach them, because they were just staring at me like I was useless, and tried to explain the concept of team-building exercises, which they didn't get at all.
  • Came home. Some guy brought 70 eggs to my house. Contemplated buying all of them then only bought 4.
  • My friend Omari came over. I tried to explain to him the concept of sarcasm after he was like, you know, there is this thing called HIV. I was like, no really? And he didn't understand that I was joking. Apparently there is actually a Swahili word for sarcasm: Kejeli.
  • Took a shower after it got dark, had my cat kill all the roaches in the choo before I showered. Went to bed.

Saturday 4/18

  • Went to Omari's farm with him, his mom, and his two neices. They gave me 3 pumpkins ad 6 ears of corn.
  • Me and Omari came back to my house and listened to my ipod for awhile.
  • I waited for my VEO to come to take me too this meeting we were supposed to go to. He never showed up so I went to the village to talk to him, talked to some other people in the village for awhile, got my bike fixed again, came home eventually. Ate some candy for dinner bc I didn't feel like cooking.
Sunday 4/19
  • Nothing much: laundry (why did I ever complain about doing laundry in the US?). Made pumpkin casserole. My boss from Dar who was doing meetings in my region came and dropped off some books for me.

Monday 4/20

  • Walked to a neighboring village to pick up surveys I had given to primary school teachers to see what they know about HIV. Took bus to next village. After going to the schools hung out with my mama friend at her "restaurant" for awhile. Waited for bus again, gave some condoms to student while I was waiting. Went to another village to pick up some books from another volutneer's house.
  • By the time I got back home it was almost dark. Fundi brought me my penis model. Read and went to bed.

Tuesday 4/21

  • Taught at secondary school; they decided to ask me every single random question they have ever had about sex. Explained what oral sex and the clitoris are.
  • Got into an argument with some of the teachers because they seem to think that if they attend a training I am planning about HIV/AIDS, then I need to pay them and/or give them ridiculous amounts of food and soda.
  • Did a "needs assessment" meeting in one of the sub-villages. I am trying to see if there are any big projects that the village wants done, and if so I will write a grant to help them get money. They decided either a well or a "modern" market would benefit the village.
  • Came home, baked pumpkin bread, read, bed

Wednesday 4/22

  • Taught at secondary school again.
  • Guest teachers at the school talked to me for a long time about American politics. Did you know what "Obama" stands for? "Originally Born in Africa Made for America." This is a direct quote. I told the guy that Obama wasn't actually born in Africa but he didn't believe me.
  • My friend Zeituni who I haven't seen in ages came over.
  • A bunch of students came and asked for drinking water. Then a bunch more came and asked for condoms.
  • Napped
  • Taught some life skills stuff at the primary school, which I swore I'd never teach, until I got dropped off alone at my village with nothing but my HIV/AIDS manual and Life Skills manual
  • Came home, watched the students play soccer. Omari and another teacher decided to come over and the other teacher decided to tell me I don't know how to teach and that I am generally ridiculous. I contemplated once again how I wish that all my neighbors were not complete assholes.

Thursday 4/23

  • Was about to leave to go teach at primary school in the morning, when my counterpart Esha came over. I felt bad that she had walked all the way to my house, so I went to the priamry school really late. Taught about hygeine.
  • Got condoms from dispensary. Ate lunch at Mama Rama's "restaurant". Came home and napped.
  • Fundi delivered my furniture that has taken like 3 months to build. I was sitting on my porch preparing some teaching materials and one of the teachers I don't like came and blathered on about marriage and other things I wasn't paying attention to. Hung out with Tino for awhile. Finished preparing teaching materials and went to bed.

Friday 4/24

  • Taught HIV/AIDS biology, disease progression, transmission and prevention at a secondary school in a neighboring village. These students actually listen to me unlike the students at my school.
  • Came home, made orange juice and roasted peanuts, cleaned my house, worked halfheartedly on grant for the teacher training I am planning.
  • Omari came over for a little then left. Then his younger brother Yassini came and we sat in silence for awhile. Then he started asking me random questions about HIV. Apparently he is never going to have sex or even kiss anyone because that is the most effective way to prevent HIV. He thinks it's possible to get HIV if you're making out with someone and accidentally bite them and make them bleed. I tried to explain that the chances of that are very small and I don't think that generally happens, and maybe you should be more gentle if you're making out with someone. He said people should just stop having sex and that would solve the problem of HIV. I tried to explain why I don't think abstinence-only education is very effective (ie we do that in the US and it doesn't work; people still get unwanted pregnancies and STDs because they don't have the information they need to protect themselves). He asked me if I was a virgin and I got really mad and wrote "NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS" on the ground and stopped talking to him. He continued to sit on my porch for half an hour. Some students came and got condoms. Yassini eventually left. I played with my cat for awhile then went to bed.

11 April 2009

Pic update

This is me and one of my best friends in the village, Tino (short for Valentino, which by the way is not a very common Tanzanian name). He is the son of one of the secondary school teachers and one of my teachers. I think Tino was slightly confused by what I was doing with the camera. Also in the background is one of the secondary school students, Mudi.

I rarely use my camera, otherwise I would post more pictures. Happy Easter everyone. I'm trying to bring the fantastic American concept of the Easter Egg Hunt to my village. The only problem is we don't really have eggs.