As of next week it will be 4 months until our Close of Service conference, where we learn all about going home. And then another 3 months most of us are packing to go.
Assuming I come home in August, I have just about 7 months left in my Peace Corps Service. Which, in reality, leaves most of us with only about 6 months to work in our villages.
So what will I do with my time?
Last year, my big project was a crop diversification project that I did with farming groups in the villages surrounding where I live. I believe, at least from my perspective, that it was very successful for some groups, and not so successful with others. A lot of that falls on the desire of the farmers to want to make it work. The truth is not everyone wants to change, even if it is the project that my host organization wanted me to do, it may not have (in the end) been something that all the farming groups that my host organization assigned me to work with, were actually interested in. All in all, I am really very proud of all of the work that I did last year, with my organization, and also with schools and with assistance from the mayor's office. --- Coming into 2014, I have to be honest, I feel a little stuck.
My “successful” projects are more or less finished. And I think that my community has just as much of an idea as to what to do with me, as I do. Our next quarterly report is due in March, and I am sweating over how few stories I have to report this quarter.
Lately, I have been feeling like I am doing absolutely nothing. Which in part is true, mostly due to poorly timed illnesses that took up most of the time between vacation and Christmas. Now, happens to be the fete season (Christmas and New Years and Voodoo Fete) so no one is really working anyway. In the other sense, sometimes we volunteers don't realize how much work we are actually doing. I would say I have a tendency to be hard on myself, but in this situation I think we all do.
It is hard to come off of a lot of time out of village, and land right into the month of no work due to holiday parties. It makes one lose focus of what work is actually being done. So I am going to take some time to update you on work: as in the work that will be happening during the next few months.
As most of you know, I have been having trouble identifying a new big project to work on in my community (and especially with my host organization) but that doesn't mean that I am not working on small things. I still have my Amour et Vie team, I wish to get the school garden up and running again later this month (I have reason to believe the water situation has been fixed BUT I refuse to get my hopes up), and we have plans to build a “community” garden behind my office, so that when farmers come to the office, they will see that the agents at the office do actually know what they are talking about. --- On the “volunteer community” side of things, I am helping to organize a PSN wellness weekend in Cotonou for the new volunteers in my region, I have plans to help facilitate a training at the end of the month, and as always my doors are open to volunteers who need a place to crash in/around Porto (I will apparently also be a stop along the route of a fundraiser marathon some volunteers will be running this spring!). It is funny how much the location of your post really does effect the way your service shapes itself.
There are some other (maybe bigger) projects in discussion at the time, but I don't want to talk about them yet (in case they don't happen!).
When I was little. My mom used to drag me along for long walks across town. Sometimes, these walks were a little too long for my little legs. So in order to get me to persevere and get home, my mom made up a game (actually to this day I am not quite sure why this was a game), where we would pick a target such as a tree, or a street sign, or a telephone pole. The goal of the game was to make it to that target and then the prize for making it to the target was picking another target... until eventually it was the house. I feel that I am in that part of my service.. its the home stretch.. and I have little markers set up to help me get there. I just have to keep my energy up, and not forget to look around to see all of the beautiful things about living and working in Benin. (No matter how much I just want to focus in on the checkpoints!)
Time is flying so incredibly fast.