Hey friends. It has been 365 days in Panama, and as my second year in Panama begins, I thought I would give you a quick recap, particularly since the last few months got a little crazy,
I left Nebraska on May 1st, 2012 and landed in Panama on May 2nd. Ten weeks of a special kind of hell called training where everyone pretends like they love it all the time later, I swore in as a PCV on July 5th, 2012. I quickly found myself learning how to be a Djabwera, an Embera sister, living in the remote village of Playona. After 3 months of living in survival mode experiencing the ups and downs of living with a host family in the height of the rainy season of the Darien, I got to move into my own hut. I was supposed to be living alone but have had many uninvited roommates of the wildlife variety. In those months I became close friends with the fellow PCVs of the Darien, particularly the 3 down river of me. Let's just say the first 6 months in country are tough and I am not sad to have them behind me.
In November I went to In Service Training and then the all Volunteer Thanksgiving where we prepared for the next stage of our service and then celebrated the traditional America holiday.
December was a month of waiting as my community pulled itself together to start the latrine project and after a Christmas in the city with other orphaned Volunteers I came home to a whirlwind of materials transport and construction that lasted well into the new year.
In January I sent 2 kids from my community to a leadership camp, I spent a week volunteering for a group of missionary doctors as a translator, I helped every house in my community do a self analysis of their family's health, and we continued building latrines.
In February I went all the way to the other side of the country for a Field IST to learn how to build the composting latrines that I had already been building, I did a water committee seminar in Chris's site, helped the US army as a translator for a medical tour in a Kuna village, and prepared for my health seminar.
In March I held an epic health seminar for all families that wanted to enter the project, we finished all 4 of the latrines AND they built another one with their own money, I did a water committee seminar in another Embera community that doesn't have a Volunteer yet, I went to Danielle's community to help her build a composting latrine, I was invited to be a trainer for the next group of EH Volunteers in July and went to training for that, I celebrated the turning on of electricity with a party in Ben's site, and I celebrated Easter with my host family by teaching my host brothers about decorating eggs and hiding them.
In April I helped my new water committee figure out their new jobs, I submitted the paperwork to 'close' or finish out my grant from USAID, and then I got my community to help me with the paperwork to submit a proposal for a different kind of grant, called a PCPP, to fund another 15 latrines. I went to another Volunteer's site to do a seminar on logos, brochures, marketing, and mission statements, and they gave me a tour of their one of a kind, world reknowned caves. It was so much better than I expected. I spent a week at home in site being harrassed by rats and hanging out with my people, then attended a facilitator's training for another youth camp that I will be a counselor for in a few weeks. I finished up the month in my community tutoring kids with English homework, playing soccer and UNO with them, teaching them how to use a puppet, and continuing to struggle through every night of rodent torment. On the bright side, my PCPP application was approved, now all I have to do is get it funded!
Coming soon in Amber's Adventures in the Jungle-
Finding funding for that PCPP! A leadership training for community leaders! Getting a cat, and therefore maybe some sleep! GAD Camp for kids! Visitors from America and my first Vacation in country! Another medical tour- this one at a waterpark! One year meds, just how many cavities do I have?! One Year Since Swear In Celebration! Training G73 during tech week! Hopefully building 15 more latrines!
Stay tuned ladies and gents, Season 2 is only going to get better!