Friday, July 25, 2008

Camp and home improvements

Even though I spent an hour and a half online last Sunday, I failed to post an update. Here’s a summary of what happened after Lomé.

I spent July 4th and too many days after in Kpalime with volunteer friends who pampered me (and their three to five other guests) so much that I extended my stay by a day. I saw my host family, and yes, Esse is pregnant. She said the baby is due around December, so maybe I’ll have to plan a visit around then.

From Kpalime I went to Tchifama, a village just outside Pagala, where we do our in-service trainings and camps. I spent the night with another friend, who shares the village chief’s compound with 20-something people. Very noisy. It was great just for a night – we had burritos and carrot cake for dinner. The next morning we went to Pagala for camp training.

I loved and loathed camp but overall had a positive experience (so much so that I’m trying to establish a once-a-month volunteer-kid get-together with the association in Dapaong). Amy and I were Butterflies with the oldest girls. This meant we could leave them for five minutes and not worry that anyone would lock herself in her room at night and pee on the floor. They still managed to drive me crazy half the time, especially when it was time to go anywhere. But they eventually cut down their prep time, their table manners improved quickly and they got all the activities we did with them.

During the week, all the cabins learned income-generating activities like making popcorn or juice. Then we had a little market at the end of the week with bottle cap money. The Butterflies made beaded bracelets and toffee. I thought we were just going to make single-strand bracelets, but the woman who taught our session had everyone do a really complicated four-strand method. Turns out she thought we were making beaded AIDS ribbons. We managed to make enough bracelets by Friday and the kids purchased them all with their bottle caps.

On Thursday night, we had a candlelight vigil. I think the point is to give kids a chance to share their stories. I heard that last year, only one girl spoke, so I expected a repeat. Instead we had lots of sharing and LOTS of crying. I didn’t fully understand a single story, but it still made me cry because a roomful of nine-to-15-year olds were talking about their dead parents and AIDS. Besides making everyone cry, I fail to see the point of this activity, but the associations insist we do it. The next night we had a dance party, so that ended things on a happier note.

The biggest news back in village is that I got wired! My landlord plans to move into the compound soon, maybe with his family, but definitely with his generator. The electrician came Wednesday, knocked holes into my walls and now I have light bulbs and outlets. Very exciting.

One more week in village and then I begin my long voyage to America. Where I will post pictures of cute children at camp.