Monday, June 29, 2015

Just an Average Month

While I was at PST over the last few months, the trainees regularly asked what my weeks in Peace Corps generally looked like. The reality is that my job is so varied and loosely structured that no two weeks look the same. There are a few things that happen every week or every month and then a wide range of additional things thrown in that currently have me feeling incredibly busy.

The consistent weekly activities I have are limited to Tuesdays and Thursdays. On both days my afternoons are spent studying Sesotho with my tutor. Thursday mornings I teach Life Skills to 167 children at the local school.

Village Clinic Day Education Talk
The second Saturday of every month I spend at an HIV+ Teen Support Group. We typically have over 80 teens monthly. Then, the third Friday of the month I spend at the Village Outreach Clinic for Mothers and Children.

On a weekly and monthly basis, those are the only things that occur at regular intervals, however, somehow I seem to be constantly busy. Some of the other activities that keep me moving are:

  • Camp GLOW 2014
    Connecting with MCCC-multi-day trainings, workshops to move forward on our Egg-Laying Chicken Project, and other meetings
  • Work and meetings with the local Ministry of Agriculture to plan and schedule trainings for MCCC
  • Planning meetings with my counterpart and supervisor
  • Meetings with any and all of the committee planning the large-scale, four district Camp GLOW [Girls Leading Our World] with me. The camp is not until late September, but we are working extensively on the budget now so we can do the grant application through Peace Corps.
  • Community Events-a huge part of being a PCV is participating in community events. These include the obvious weddings and funerals, but also pitsos (community meetings called by the chief) like the one held for me last year when I visited, parties and celebrations like the one for our Agricultural Block Scheme, and similar activities.
  • Helping with English homework
    Kid Time-a casual but integral part of my job as a Healthy Youth PCV is to work with youth as a mentor and role model, encouraging them to develop positive life skills. While some of this is done formally through my weekly Life Skills classes or the Grassroot Soccer Camp I did in January, more of it is done through casual interactions like stopping to play or chat when walking between places, playing cards or soccer at my house, and helping with homework (especially English) assignments, and the like.
  • Peace Corps Meetings and Work-this includes activities like helping with Pre-Service Training, participating in In-Service Trainings, serving as the Co-Chair for the GEL [Gender Equality Lesotho] Peace Corps Committee, completing required volunteer surveys and reports, and the like. Usually these activities take me out of the village, even the paperwork as it is done digitally and we do not have electricity.
  • General Life Activities-regular rural life in Lesotho takes much more time than back home in the US. Simple life maintenance is time consuming. Fetching 10-20L of water takes more than half an hour. Making that water drinkable requires boiling and cooling before filtering. Doing laundry in the winter months involves packing up clothes, basins, and detergent, walking for 10-15 minutes, then sitting at the spring actually washing the cloths for up to 2.5 hours before packing it all up and hiking back uphill to the house with the heavy wet cloths. Winter is dusty and windy, so clothes require more time and more water to get clean. This must be done early enough in the day to give everything time to dry on the line before sunset. Buying food requires hours. If I head to town, it is at least an hour to get there and usually twice that to return. If I go to one of the village shops, it is only twenty minutes of walking each way but the requisite and enjoyable social conversations with the shopkeeper and other villagers at the shop adds at least an hour to the tally.   

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You should choose as your life's work whatever feels the most like play.
-Harvey Oxenhorn