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Published: November 4th 2017
A lizard runs by with his tail cut off. I wonder whether it hurt. Was it a mean man with a machete, or an attempted bird attack? He scurries under a tropical bush, lush with brightly colored flowers. Perspective.
My own tail, often between my legs, but sometimes cut off entirely, is irrelevant when there’s a safe space to which I return. For the last two weeks, I have been stuck in Dar es Salaam at Peace Corps discretion because of the continued security incidences in my village. Even after having two girls occupy my outdoor kitchen area when I’ve been away, thieves managed to break through my bedroom windows. They cut the locks on my valuables case, and somehow scaled the walls to unlock various doors after finding my hidden keys. Solar panels, jewelry, and goodness knows what else were taken, but I’ll learn the full extent of the damage when I’m permitted to return.
So yeah, that sucks. But there’s also the fact that I’m staying in a coastal city on the Indian Ocean. My pseudo-vacay is on Peace Corps’ dime, and for the last couple of nights, I’ve been sleeping in the
guest cottage of the Peace Corps Director of Programming, who just happens to be kick-ass (her swimming pool is equally kick-ass). I’ve gotten to cook fresh tuna for myself, drink water with ICE in it, and even enjoyed a few Happy-Hour specials at restaurants that PCVs can’t usually afford. All in all, the lemons for this lemonade taste more like oranges.
Tail cut off. Beautiful flower bush.
Enough about the negatives. We could chat about how ticked off I am, or I could tell you about how fortunate I am to be a Peace Corps Volunteer. I choose the latter.
I started my travels last month to head to an In-Service-Training on HIV education through Community Action Theater. This training was SO DOPE. I assumed we would be learning how to create skits for educational purposes, maybe incorporating some song and dance, or musical instruments. The actual training went much further.
We dove in to behavioral science and the most efficient tactics for provoking community action. The model we learned (and demonstrated as a class) taught Community Action Theater in stages. First, you gather information on the group
you want to work with. Next, you choose particularly interested members of that group to participate, and make them responsible for gathering data and performing data analysis on their own community. Their analysis is meant to identify particular problems, causes, and outcomes that they’ve observed. The group chooses a certain problem or cause, and creates a plot for a play based on their choice. They then perform their creation to their own community.
The most important aspect of Community Action Theater is that every plot ends in a provocative cliff-hanger, followed by a group discussion. Even the discussion is facilitated by one of the groups own members. Often, major scandals and community downfalls have been addressed after coming to the surface, post-performance. The community is always introduced to the play via local song or dance, creating relativity for the audience and drawing their attention. We had the pleasure of performing for a Secondary School of all girls, and watching them engage in discussion about HIV and AIDs in their own community. It was extremely powerful, and I definitely teared up in particular moments of cultural song.
After completing the CAT Training, I headed to
Moshi in the region of Kilimanjaro for work-leave to fetch the ducklings I had ordered from Kenya. I had been communicating with the company, Ziwani Poultry Farm for over 6 weeks, discussing payment options, transport, and agreeing on timing. I was certain the ducks would arrive safely… until I arrived in Moshi and the company went radio-silent. Not a word. I texted, called, Whatsapped, emailed. Nothing. I could even see that the man was reading my messages, but refusing to respond. No “I’m sorry,” or “It won’t work.” Just silence. I still went to the bus stand at the agreed upon time, hoping there was just a technical problem. Of course, the bus company told me that there wasn’t even a bus arriving that day. I just didn’t understand why he would take all the time to yank me around when I hadn’t even paid him yet. Why not just say “no?” Tail cut off.
Anywho, I tried another poultry source that didn’t work out, and then made my way here to Dar. We had our FEAST Committee meeting for several days, in which I was nominated Vice-Chairperson and nutrition specialist. Works well for me, because I
certainly don’t have the gardening skills to be a botany trainer! I’ll do much better as a committee liasson and health guru.
We finalized the details for our FEAST-led training in December, and familiarized ourselves with the new responsibilities of joining a Peace Corps committee. I’m excited that I’ll most likely be teaching about Orange Fleshed Sweet Potatoes and nutrition at this upcoming training! Beautiful flower bush.
It was during our FEAST meeting that I learned about the most recent break-in, and since then, I’ve been in Dar waiting for a definitive plan. Staff have been supportive, especially our new Director of Programming, and I’m taking each day in stride. If I’m here through the weekend, I might check out the marine reserve just off the coast and get a little island time.
Anywho, the tail’s growing back. It always does.
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