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Showing posts from April, 2013

Hey G73! A Better Packing List!

So now is the time tht most of the next crew, G73 is starting to seriously prepare for their arrival to Panama in June. For those of you using the welcome book to pack, here are my suggestions based on what I have experienced in my first year in country. Hope it helps!


6 days a week in training you will wear:

-Long pants or skirt (cargo pants, khaki pants, nice jeans, quick dry pants. Of those, I recommend really only 1 pair of jeans. It is too freaking hot!) Skirt should be about knee length, lightweight cotton or sturdy material, and not tight fitting)
-Collared shirt or blouse (could be a button up or polo, long or short sleeved. Again, not too low cut or tight fitting)
-Business casual shoes (Almost anything not a flip flop, not open toe for men. Could be tennis shoes, flats, sandals with ankle straps. In good condition.)
-Socks if aforementioned shoes require them.
-Comfy shorts to hang out at home in, sleep in, wander around the community in, play sports or do homework or play cards w…

Crusty Confessionals

That is what Chelsea calls them. Stories or anecdotes or quips about yourself or things you have done or things that have happened to you in your peace corps service that are...gross.

The reigning king of the crusty confessionals is a Volunteer who, while using his pit latrine in the rainy season, managed to get splash back in his mouth while dropping the kids off at the pool.

I have a crusty confessional.

It was 3:41AM last Saturday night. I was laying in bed, tucked into my mosquito net.

Let me tell you about mosquito nets. The inside of one's mosquito net is holy ground. A mosquito net is like a  superpower force field, protecting you from all evil in the world- mosquitoes, rodents, wildlife, pumas, kidnappers, rebel armies, small children. That is what we believe. That is what we tell ourselves to live our crazy jungle lives in peace and serenity. In my mosquito net, nothing can hurt me.

So here we are. Safe. Secure. Tucked into my mosquito net and absolutely dead to the world…

The Epic Health Seminar, The Epilogue

The results of the seminar were apparent immediately. An hour after the seminar ended, more than half of the 27 families came out to help finish the first four. The brand new president of the health comittee, Victor, took note of the number of hours each person worked. That night he scheduled work days for Saturday and Sunday, and then sent my host mom, the Vocal, out to spread the word to everyone in the project.
On Saturday as I walked around the community I noticed that 5 rainwater catchment tanks had new covers on them. One woman showed me the new lid on her trash can. When I had lunch with my host family on Sunday, my host mom scolded my little brother for eating food off of the floor. In my 3 months living there, that had never happened. Just before I had to leave on Sunday we finished the handwashing station on the first completed latrine. 1 down, and 3 more oh-so-close.
I left on Sunday after the seminar to do a water committee seminar and to help Danielle build a composting lat…

The Epic Seminar, Act III

By Friday morning, the 5 PCVs heard the alarm go off at 6AM, and we knew we should get up, but it was more like 6:45 or 7 before any real movement was accomplished.

The community met us there at the meeting hall right at 8 so we were able to get started ahead of schedule. Again, this is UNHEARD OF across Panama in general, especially in my region. So epic win. We started by breaking into small groups to outline the jobs of a president, secretary, treasurer, technician, and vocale. Based on the characteristics and responsibilities of each office, we then elected a new health committee since the previous one was choosing to resign. The outgoing Health Committee VP/treasurer spoke about some of the challenges of the pilot phase and his recommendations for the future groups. In the end we elected a new committee that even has TWO women on it! (My host mom is one of them :) )

After the new committee was elected we discussed how the next families will be chosen. We are only going to continu…

The Epic Health Seminar, Act II

At 6:30AM the PCVs in (and under) my hut started moving, a little slower than the day before. We made what I think was a metric ton of eggs and at 8AM headed out to start ringing the bell. Everyone was assembled and ready to go by 8:15. Well, the participants were. The PCVs were banking on them taking a little longer to round themselves up!

By 8:45 we were ready and started off by teaching them Simon Says. They LOVED Simon Says and we played it 3 more times before the end of the seminar. The plan for Thursday was to go through the 4 main health lessons of the seminar but didn't want them cooped up in a meeting hall the whole time. We divided them into groups of 4. I sent one group with Danielle to a woman's house to discuss Casa Limpia. Ben took a group down to the river to discuss Clean Water (for drinking, the various ways to treat and filter it and for goodness sake WHY IT IS SO IMPORTANT), Chris took a group to the existing Composting Latrine in the community (the only fin…

The Epic Health Seminar, Act I

My superhero team of PCVs arrived on Tuesday March 5th to prep for the seminar. We made mosquito masks, finished posters, shelled some peas, and cooked a yummy dinner.

Day 1 of the seminar we rolled out of bed at 6AM for coffee and oatmeal before we started trying to rally the troops to attend the seminar. To hold a meeting in my community, one needs to hit a metal hubcap hanging on a string of the meeting house with a piece of rebar. The whole town can hear and eventually starts meeting. If you want to start a meeting at 8, you need to start ringing the bell at 7, and then you will probably start shortly before 9. Miraculously, people were seated and ready to go with nametags by 8:30, early by Embera standards!

I started off the seminar with a conversation about the health information I learned from the survey, and by trying to put what those numbers mean into a context they understand. To illustrate just how many 97 illnesses was in one month, I dumped 97 beans into a pot. I then du…

A Quick Note

I haven't forgotten your existence, oh dedicated followers. I know that I owe you some stories and updates of the last several weeks. It is going to be a few weeks, because life is busy, busy, busy. Yet at the same time that is a very good thing because it means things are in motion and life is happening. Life is always better when it is happening!

Thanks so much for the over 5,000 page views to this blog and I hope that you are enjoying your part in this adventure as well.

Stories coming soon. Keep being awesome until then.

Peace, love, and gaff tape.