Reflections: The First Report
Just this past week our first volunteer reporting form was due. This also means I am almost at 9 months in Benin (6 months at post!).
The report includes a list of your project activities (and their descriptions) – indicators are assigned to show what goals we are meeting and we report the numbers of people we were working with on all projects. As well as if the project is finished/ongoing/failed etc.
My report didn't have quite as much as I had hoped to be able to report at this time.. but after some time of feeling guilty about this I realized that the beginning of March (when I started my report) marked only 2 months since the integration and settling in period had ended.. so while my projects are taking some time to get started.. the progress I have made with languages (all 3 of them!) getting to know my community and starting up projects is not as shabby as I sometimes feel... I have done quite a bit in the last 2 and a half months.
The best part of the reporting form however is where you get to tell stories.. stories about successes and future plans for projects... you get to talk about the work you are doing for Peace Corps 2nd and 3rd goals (this is really important because it is two thirds of our work and it isn't really that visible to the Administrators that work with us).. things such as this blog.. writing letters home.. and talking to and teaching my neighbors about America. The hardest part of this specific report was writing a success story.. for most of my training group our projects are not far enough along to deem any of them a “Success” and so... one of my new goals.. is that by the time I am done with the Peace Corps I will have a success story worth reporting for you to read here on the blog :) The experience that I used for this reports “Success Story” – although a somewhat lame excuse for one – was my experience of teaching men how to build mud stoves which I wrote about back in November.
These reports go to Washington where they are able to keep track (in some way) of how many people Peace Corps is reaching globally and on what projects.. and the stories are the stories that are found both in Peace Corps advertising and of course when Congress needs reading material to take up time – but I think that I previously wrote about all that.
SO I will try my best not to be repetitive :)
Fabulous Questions That HCNs Have Asked Me
Do you import water from Europe to keep your skin white?
If there are no sorcerers in America then how does America protect itself from sorcerers?
If you don't eat meat, where does your blood come from?
Is James Bond still alive?
A Bad Day for a Gecko.
Gecko: an animal that is as common as squirrels are at home. When they aren't suspected of being a spying sorcerer in disguise.. they are generally treated as rodents. Personally I find no reason to hate on these little animals.. the worse thing they do is poop everywhere and eat insects. So I had to take a good look at my life the other day when I had a slightly traumatic run in with a gecko..
Early one morning this week I had noticed that one of my decorations had fallen off the wall and I picked it up and carried it with me into the bathroom, planning to re-affix the duct tape to the wall as soon as my teeth were brushed and my vision was corrected. Then I forgot..
Hours later I return home from work to find a gecko stuck to the duct tape.. staring at me helplessly with it's little gecko eyes as I prepared to take my afternoon shower.
Anyone who knows me knows that this was about to be a damper on my day. What was I to do? The only real option at this point was to try my hand at slowly and carefully removing the poor little guy from his fly-tape-esque situation.
I spent the next hour of my life (what I can only assume was the most traumatic hour of Mr. Gecko's life) painstakingly removing him from this situation. First the duct tape from the cardboard and then little by little cutting away at the tape. Once I discovered that his tail wasn't all that stuck (with my strength not his) I removed the duct tape around his tail.. and then his feet.. etc. etc. I'm sure this was incredibly painful for him but he seemed to handle it quite fine.
Eventually I realized that there was no way I could remove the tape stuck to his stomach with out causing serious damage... so I did what I could to better the lizards now assumingly shorter life. Once I felt confident that the movement of his tail feet and head were no longer hindered.. and that there was no tape dangling in what would later be dangerous to him.. I let him wander off. Unfortunately, he now has some duct tape permanently attached to his belly but I suppose that is better than shriveling up and dying stuck to a piece of cardboard – and much better (for both of us) than me accidentally ripping open the belly.
I live in a country where people find it strange that I pet dogs. People find it amusing that volunteers keep cats and dogs as pets (often feeding the animal better than many people eat). In this country animals - cat dog mouse rat goat pig etc - are all considered food. The ones that aren't food are pests... and that about covers it.
So luckily for me my neighbors don't speak English or else they would all think I am crazy. That being said.. I am sure they were wondering why I spent an hour “talking to myself” or perhaps talking to my imaginary friend “Mr. Gecko”
As of now... he is living in my bathroom and eating insects.
Moral: Careful where you put your duct tape.
Or did you think maybe I would learn from this and try to deal with the lizard problem?.. yea.. no.
PS New "Things I Miss" Update