There are moments where all I want to do is lay in bed under the sanctuary of my mosquito net with the fan blowing directly on my face lost in the land of daydreams. Have a day of nothingness and be content with it. But then the days would pass slowly, and daydreams would be just that – dreams. It has been a short (and long) two weeks I have now been here in Linden. Each day I find myself content with small accomplishments and enjoying simple (and amazing) moments, each day I feel blessed this is my home.
It is difficult to explain everything that happens in the day by day here. For the most part it isn’t exciting, isn’t anything special, but at the same time when those moments come along it is so fulfilling. My friends and I were walking through the market the other day, enjoying the rarity of a cool afternoon. We had no particular destination or item to buy. As we wandered we started to get random hellos and conversations with the few people we had met in our short time here. In the walk home the hellos and conversation continued, in addition to a random vegetable drive by drop by a neighbor. Walking to our house we hear a honk and a ladies ladies, to our surprise a neighbor hands us two huge bags of vegetables from his car and says enjoy. Finally arriving at home we found ourselves in a wonderful mood, smiles adorning our faces, the few people we do know so far want us to be here and make sure we are fed, happy, and welcomed.
Occasionally our day to day is interrupted and moments to remember come by. Yesterday, my friends and I (for those who don’t know there are three of us volunteers all right next to each other) embarked out on an adventure with the family of a coworker. We were unsure where the destination was and really how we were going to get there. We took a car out to one of Linden’s outlying neighborhoods, and began a pleasant hike. Walking along we veered from the beaten path to an overgrown trail, continuing on mud began squishing under our feet. We then came to a creek crossing with a less than stable bridge. One person makes its through, then two, third man down, fourth man wet…all we could do is laugh and push on through even thicker squishier mud. It oozed up over our feet, flung up our legs, and provided entertainment as we slipped and slid. Coming out of the trees, mud, and unknown, there is a row of houses lining a beautiful river. The hot sun beating down on us made the water glisten, making it an irresistible oasis. We took a quick dip rinsing off the mud and refreshing ourselves before continuing up the river to some coconut trees and fresh coconut water and jelly to get us ready for the trek home.
On our way home we stop by a local farm and got the grand tour, seeing the most enormous pig I have ever seen. We then find our way back to the coworkers home, where we have dinner and fresh lime juice waiting for us! We inhale the plate full of okra, fish, rice, and dahl, washing it down with the thirst quenching juice. They drive us home tired and exhausted where we soon find our beds and fall asleep with dreams of the adventures Guyana holds.
It has been a busy last couple of weeks, to say the least. This blog post has no greater meaning or deep thinking it is just going to be a pure recount of my last couple weeks of training and the transition into being an OFFICIAL PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER!!!
Where to begin? The last big thing a remember is Phagwah, which was such a wonderful day with friends. Then came one of the most nerve racking days of any PCV, Site Placement Day. This is the evermost important day when we find out where we will be working and living for the next two years. Will there be tears, smiles, or anger, who knows? We all gathered in a room and they had a map covered with little slips of paper hiding out sites. Playing Jeopardy Peace Corps style we slowly and surely revealed the 32 sites of Guy 24. My site you ask. LINDEN!! I am working in the second largest city in a Guyana at the Mackenzie Linden Hospital. I don’t exactly have a set job, but that is what makes it so exciting I am going there to help develop what they need from scratch.
With the being said the next week started with our Counterpart Conference, this gave us Peace Corps Trainees a chance to meet one of the people we would be working with for the next two years and gain a better understanding of what our role would (or wouldn’t be). The conference was all a lead up to us visiting our sites and seeing our future homes. At the end of the conference we hopped into cabs and minibuses and found our way out to site. And so the site visit began…
Visiting my future site was a whirlwind of activities to say the least. I first met the entire hospital (literally) and tried to remember what was what. I as well got to visit the other Guy 24 Volunteer’s sites and see where my peers would be working (we have two of us health volunteers and one education volunteer in Linden). From there we all met the Regional Health Officer (RHO) and the Regional Education Officer (REDO). Met some of the local officials, found the post office, got lost in the market, attended various meetings, opened up a bank account, signed leases with our future landlord, and much much more.
Next all us trainees returned to training for one final week of wrap in our training site. During training we had developed mini projects that we were working on to give back to our communities where we were working/living. I had been working at the West Demerara Regional Hospital with four other girls. For our project we decided to do a revamp of the maternal health clinic waiting room and develop some educational materials for the chronic disease clinic. Team Awesomeness (as we became known as at the West Dem Hospital) painted the clinic earlier in training and just needed to clean, rearrange, and develop some educational posters in the clinic. When all was said and done, we had painted the walls, created, arranged, and hung educational posters, obtained educational DVDs to play on the clinic TV, fixed broken benches, fixed a broken window, and installed fans in the clinic. Additionally, in the chronic disease clinic we created educational posters, and produced a couple hundred brochures on healthy eating, and conducted multiple health sessions on healthy eating and diabetic nutrition.
If that doesn’t sound like enough Peace Corps staff asked if I could assist them in painting a sign for the building we had been training in. It was supposed to be a youth center, but wasn’t being utilized prior to Peace Corps using it as a training building. I couldn’t say no, so after the days of training and working at the clinics I found time to paint the walls of Phoenix Park Youth Initiative Center. I am pretty happy with how it turned out, but wish there was more time…
Continuing in this whirlwind of events, I started to say goodbyes to my host family and neighbors and pack my bags to go to the last few days of training in Georgetown. Before taking off to GT we took a side trip to St. Cuthberts, where the remote volunteers had been training and experience a new part of Guyana. Finally finding our way to Georgetown I found myself relaxing in luxuries of AC and hot showers (are you tired yet because I am). Now here is the exciting part, if you have made it this far in my post I applaud you (clap clap clap). In Georgetown we completed our last three day of training and wait for it, wait for it, and then finally swore in an OFFICIAL PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEERS!! Yes I said it is official I am a volunteer and today was my first day of work. So I am now living in Linden, Guyana. It was one exciting journey on a minibus to get all my stuff here, but I am here alive, well and happy! I am excited for what the next couple months will bring and loving the whirlwind of it all.