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Published: March 21st 2009
Making a Mudstove
Trainees making a mudstove. Step 1: Mix lots of cow poo, straw, and termite mounds.
Apparently a year has passed since I left the US. I’m marking the anniversary by spending three weeks where I got started in Guinea: Forecariah. I’m helping train a new group of volunteers that got here at the beginning of the month. For all there friends and family that may be reading, they’re doing really well and I know I can speak for the other volunteers and say that all their energy and enthusiasm is inspiring and it’s rubbing off on the rest of us.
I didn’t think I had changed much since I’ve been here, maybe just learned to deal with things better. But being with the new group has shown me some things about myself, and I’m not necessarily proud of them. Yesterday, two trainees, Caitlin and Ben, came over looking for help. They’d found seven abandoned new-born kittens in the street. They collected them in a box and bought a can of milk to try to feed them. The only advice we (the volunteers) could give them was to try feeding the strongest looking one because they were all probably going to die anyway. We told them they couldn’t leave them at the volunteer house. Caitlin and
Step 2: Make it into balls. Hurl the balls around three rocks and viola! Two weeks later you have a wood-saving cook fire :)
Ben looked shocked, even a little frantic and we admitted out loud that we’re horrible people.
Then today, one of the French classes made their trainer stop class because they saw a boy with an infected gash on this toe. They brought him to the Peace Corps office and asked what we could do for him. I told them to make his parents take him to the health center. They weren’t satisfied and demanded materials to clean and bandage his toe. I told them that was essentially useless. The boy wasn’t wearing shoes, so in a matter of minutes the bandage would fall off. They bandaged him anyway. I was feeling pretty bad for my cynicism so I made sure to talk to his family about buying him shoes, preferably socks too, and making him wear them.
Being around the trainees is a huge reality check. It’s helping me evaluate the past year and make plans for the next one. They’ve infused me with a much needed dose of idealism. I’ll be doing my best to repay them over my next two weeks in Forecariah.
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