I can't believe that it is November. Really, where did the time go. As a girl who has lived in New England her whole life, this is my first year where the seasons haven't changed. It is still 85 degrees at least during the day and the sun still beats down, although it has started to get cooler at night, which makes it much easier to sleep, there isn't that cool brisk air that fall brings every year. The leaves aren't changing colors, but there is a bounty of watermelons. Eating watermelons during November is a treat especially because it is so hot and the watermelons offer a refreshing break. Thanksgiving is around the corner and a fellow volunteer has located turkey's in his village! So yes, we will be eating turkey!!!
HIV/AIDS bike trek is complete. About 20 PC volunteers taught for 4 days at 4 different schools, educating and interacting with students about the facts of HIV/AIDS and about the strength of speaking out and talking about the disease in their communities. I learned about myself as a teacher and about Gambian school systems and culture. Volunteers came and taught at the Upper basic school closest to my village, my mother and another woman from the town cooked us meals for two days which I will say were absolutely delicious! Although it was a bike trek, I didn't even touch my bike besides to put it in the back of a truck. But it was a much more rare treat to ride in an air-conditioned comfortable vehicle than my bike, which I use every day, so we will leave the trekking till another day.
Myself and a fellow volunteer have been doing some photography work with the World Food Program which has just been put up on their website. So check it out. http://www.wfp.org/node/3464/4113/342772
Now to the deeper stuff....
We have now been at site for 6 months, reaching 1/4 of our service complete. Yesterday, I spent the day in the fields with the ladies piling groundnut and picking up left behind peanuts. Then I smashed peanuts against a metal rod cracking the shell so we could eat them later. I did this for 3 hours. Sometimes the goal is to simply find something, anything to do to pass the time.
I guess the hardest part right now is not feeling as if I have a purpose. What am I here to do? Where is the most need? What will benefit the village the most? What can I give them? I need to find something that I feel passionate about so that my heart is in my own work. This life isn't all great days or the moments where I can't believe how lucky I am to be in Africa, living this life. Many of the days, I wake up thinking about what I can do to simply pass the time, wishing to exhaust myself to the point where I can fall back asleep again. My heart aches for loved one at home, for loved ones in country, for the next moments that I will see them. Then the feelings of guilt come because I am not living for each day, appreciating the things that I have, rather my mind is far away, wishing for people and places that are to come. But I will never get this time back, once May 2014 rolls around this life will be only a memory, photos, and love in my heart. Its a delicate balance of appreciating and living in the moment while also allowing myself to feel the ache to be with loved ones.
The time element is difficult. There are so many hours during the day where I can play and laugh and appreciate all I have here. But it is all in another language, which I only partly understand, so the language of my heart and mind is playing in my own head. These thoughts run a constant reel like a radio you know is playing in the background and sometimes you hear its news and sometimes its just white noise, but you know it is there, some thoughts are superficial, some philosophical, the majority of them deep. Being surrounded by people all the time but essentially being alone with your own feelings and thoughts is to put it lightly, quite the experience. You question yourself, the person you thought you were, the person you are becoming, because regardless of where I will be next in life, everything that Africa has taught me and continues to teach me will be ingrained in my understanding. Then there is the fear, I've been in Tenengfara for 6 months, and I have 18 left, these people and this place has already changed and challenged me in 6 months, what will the 18 left bring...will I recognize the person I have become after my service is over? I think its all about letting myself go and being open to whatever this crazy life has to throw at me, but sometimes I just wish for a few days where the peace is constant and the sleep is deep.
Enjoy the Thanksgiving festivities, appreciate the food and drink, an early congratulations to Lauren and Anthony on their wedding, sending the giggles of African children and the excitement of Gambia drums to everyone.
A selfish reminder that Christmas and the next mail run are coming up in the middle of December so now is the time to get those packages and letters into the mail box as they will take awhile to get to me. I really love letters as they let me revisit the people who sent them over and over again, and it only costs $1.06 (I believe).