Since we got our kitchen in order, it has been really nice to be able to cook our own meals. It feels good when we’re able to recreate favorites from home, or when we’re able to secure good vegetables from nice people on the island. Man, how it’s nice to get some tomatoes and leafy greens in the mix! This chronological assortment of photos gives you a sense of how our cooking has progressed: from pasta, to grilled sausages, to fresh salads, to our favorite so far—pizza!
Images from the central highlands of Madagascar, shot during production of a film about traditional silk weavers and how access to international markets is radically changing lives for the better, especially for women.
See how Peace Corps Volunteers are helping women like these silk-weaving artisans expand their business internationally to boost income-generation opportunities and provide steady income for their families
AND THE WINNER IS…
Congratulations to David Malana, a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kyrgyzstan, whose “Kyrgyzstan is Me” video was selected as the winner of our 2014 Peace Corps Week Video Contest!
His was selected based on its ability to increase cross-cultural understanding, the cultural richness of the video, and the quality of the video production. As winner of the competition, he will receive an iPad to help him as he continues to share his country of service with the world.
If you can watch this video from a Peace Corps Volunteer and her community in Indonesia without smiling, you are stronger than us!
Well this weekend I had another déjà vu moment in the campo, when my life felt exactly like an episode of The Simple Life. Another day, another 5:00 am wake up call. This time, my host dad and brother took me to learn how to herd and milk cows. Now, on my resume under special skills I can put expert at killing chickens and milking cows. Basically, post Peace Corps I am going to be ready to start my career as a farm hand, maybe assistant farm hand. I was, as usual, in for a few surprises on this little outing. First I discovered that milking cows is not as easy as it looks on tv. It took me three times, and three different cows, to finally get it. I also assumed that the family had one maybe two cows and that this little outing would last no more than a half hour and then I could go back to bed. Wrong. 15 cows and two and a half hours later we were done. I really should never assume anything here, since I am always wrong. My favorite part of these early morning outings is getting the chance to watch the sun rise over the rolling hills of San Nicolas- something you miss out on when you wake up at 8:30am. I don’t know if this scenery will ever get old. It is also really nice to spend time bonding with my host family outside of the house. They always get a kick out of teaching me how to do something new, and it is nice to interact with my host dad out side of the ADESCO/ Peace Corps realm. Everyday I am starting to feel more at home here and more so apart of the family. It truly is the people that make a place, and I feel fortunate to have such welcoming and warm people to work and live with for the next two years.
For my entire career at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency I have focused on storm water management needs, ostensibly for municipalities and local communities: how to harvest rainwater and how to use technology to protect water resources. But instead of working on this smaller scale, I found myself working primarily on a national scale.
Finally, I decided it was time for a big change that focused on small communities.
As I pursued opportunities at EPA to work more directly with local communities, I found I loved that type of work whenever I got a chance to do it. I learned of the Peace Corps Response program and its projects on water resources management and engineering a couple summers ago. The EPA and Peace Corps had an agreement that supported EPA employees working as Peace Corps Response Volunteers so I applied for a rainwater harvesting engineering position in Puebla Mexico. It was exactly what I was looking for and the length of the project was similar to temporary reassignments at EPA. Plus, I could bring my Response Volunteer ground implementation experiences back to EPA.
One afternoon, I walked into a restaurant near my school to grab some lunch by myself, but instead, I got invited to eat with three police officers!
Total strangers, but in 15 minutes I knew everyone’s background story (where they worked before Leku, how many siblings they have, which towns they are originally from, etc.) and favorite foods. Not surprisingly, most of them said siga (meat – Ethiopians LOVE meat) and bursame, a Sidama Zone dish, made from the roots of the false banana tree.
They also found out where I am from, what I’m doing here in Ethiopia, which compound I live in - turns out one of them knows who my landlord is, and why I cannot have more than 2 cups of coffee a day. (Sleep would be extremely difficult to achieve, and for me saying ‘I love sleep’ is a huge understatement. Inkilf almat’am!)
This is after we ate a meat+soup dish called k’ilk’il and injera. And of course, we must finish lunch with a cup (or 2) of buna.
I don’t record these things on here enough, but almost every day something unexpected happens, and usually it turns out to be a pleasant twist. You meet someone at a buna bet who becomes your new good friend, or you get invited to eat at a teacher’s home because you saw her while walking on a different route than normal, etc. These moments and people truly humble you, and make you remember to take each day as it comes. Be present, wherever you are.