It’s been a while since I last blogged, and that one didn’t even really make sense because it was a hodge-podge of random blogs started and never finished. I’ll just update you on what I’ve been up to lately in this one, I have no profound thoughts that I’d be able to sum up in here yet so give me time.
Well rainy season is in full swing, this means ironically water shortages and lots of power outages. The water outages haven’t been all that frequent, maybe 2 in the past few months but the power has been a whole other issue. I rarely have power which doesn’t help my eating schedule with my electric stove, peanut butter sandwiches have become one of my best friends lately.
Tigray Peace Corps Volunteers (myself included) threw a summer camp for kids in our communities about 2 weeks or so ago. I’ve always been a proud supporter of summer camps but I was a little worried about a camp where we are teaching in English and need translators into Amharic and Tigrigna. My worries changed pretty quickly after I met the kids and each was able to hold a conversation no problem in English along with answering every question we threw at them. Each town got to choose 3-4 campers to take to camp for a week resulting in about 34 campers. This year we had it in Wurkro which is about 45 min from Mekelle and roughly 5 hours from my town if we don’t stop (although that’s really not possible in this country). We had camp held at an agriculture college so they provided the dorms, a big hall (which we were constantly in due to rain) and classrooms where we held many of our lectures. The lectures corresponded with a themed day, those being leadership, HIV/AIDS, environment, gender roles, and nutrition/sanitation. We really tried to make every lecture have some really fun parts to it: a blind obstacle course in leadership, a skit that involved kung-foo fighting for HIV/AIDS day, a tree planting around town for environment day, boys making buna for the girls for gender roles day, and painting jerry-can hand washing stations on the nutrition/sanitation day. Intertwined with the lectures we had a lot of time to play games, sing songs, and dance… a lot.
My role in this camp was as a counselor (I had a group of 6 kids from all over Tigray) and I was helping head Environmental day which really just resulted in more work before the day with the planning. During the day I just led a lecture on biodiversity and environmental problems with my friend Nichole. Having my own group was a lot of work but I really enjoyed getting to know the kids! I had a girl that was late to EVERYTHING as well as a boy that really just took his time getting places (he was always where he was supposed to be but walked incredibly slow) because of him my group joked that our name should be changed from yellow to “Henok NA’AH!” meaning “Henok COME!” because we screamed it so much. I also had this boy who was 14 and so small, but he had a personality that could just brighten the whole group’s mood. He would start singing and dancing and within seconds the whole group was laughing and dancing along. He was awesome to have in my group! Our group got really close during the field day activities that day before we left. My group competed against 5 other groups in fun games like a 3-legged race, or dizzy bat where they spun with their foreheads to a baseball bat on the ground and then had to jump rope after. We also had a homerun derby w/ a wiffle ball, wheelbarrow race, and a dance off. My group ended up winning the dance off which was really pretty fun. After all this fun some of the volunteers made American food for all the campers, tacos and sloppy joes! The campers were really confused why our sloppy joe meat was sweet… meat here isn’t usually sweet. After the awesome dinner we built a fire outside (took forever to start/build it) and sang, danced, and made s’mores.
The next day we made sure things got cleaned up and then each region bus left periodically throughout the morning. It was hard to find a single bus that didn’t have someone crying sad to leave camp and their new friends. For me that was a sign that it was a success, not only did no one die but they made genuine friendships and had fun in an environment we set up for them. I was worried it wouldn’t have the camp feel to it at the beginning of the week but by the end I couldn’t picture how it wouldn’t have that feel. I really wanted to thank the PCVs that were heading it this year because they really took on a huge project having it be the first camp in our area for any of us. I’m excited to potentially have a greater part in the camp next year.
Camp was most definitely one of my most tiring points here in Ethiopia but also the most rewarding. Gathering up as a group of PCVs we were able to create a bigger Tigray bond and really find out the differences we can truly make by ourselves or even as our one amazing group.
A new group of PCVs just swore in the other day at the embassy. We’re nearly doubling our size up here in Tigray, and I’m really excited to start to get to know everyone coming up here, making our Tigray family all that much bigger.
Side note: My fleas are worse than ever! I got them again at camp from the mattresses we slept on and now they are undefeatable. I’m going on a verge and saying that this time might be the worse yet and I have bites EVERYWHERE! I go to sleep every night with calamine lotion on to ease the itching plus loads of bugspray! Even as I sit here typing this I am fighting the urge to itch the bites on my arm, my motivation is to not have my arm look like my legs w/ the intense scaring from my fleas and bed bugs.
Miss you all!!!!