My experience thus far is beyond words. In 5 months I have moved four times within Madagascar, lived with numerous host families, and become an expert at cooking rice! Since being in Mahanoro, I have begun teaching at the middle and high-school. My 6th grade class has 118 students! Classroom management skills required! My high-school students are amazing, motivated, and know more about pop-culture then I do!
For my birthday I was gifted a puppy and a kitten! My puppy’s name is Koko and she is a spunky little girl! My kitten’s name is Tantely, which translates to ‘honey’. They are great company and keep me busy. Not to mention I have numerous chickens and geese that run freely in my yard and hang out in my ‘ladosi’ – traditional shower.
I recently moved homes, into a traditional ravinala palm leave home. I share land and walls with a wonderful Malagasy family. The father also works at the high-school. The mother, my ‘neny’ has completely taken me under her wing. She insists that I learn everything there is about the Betsimisaraka culture (culture of the east coast). This has turned into a daily routine of papaya grating, frying bananas, eating sweet potatoes, cleaning fish, pounding coffee, and wearing traditional lambas ( beautiful cloth wrapped around your waist). She has been pleased with my integration efforts! I also have 9 siblings, the youngest 3 and oldest 25- we play cards, go to the beach together, and go running every saturday!
I have acquired a new hobby- gardening! So far I have planted four pineapple plants, a papaya tree, multiple flowers – all gifts from my students. Thank goodness we are coming into the rainy season because watering plants every morning and evening is some tough work! Strong arms from pumping water!
Whats next? In December I will return to the capital city to participate in a in-service training. It will be great to be reunited with all my fellow volunteers. I will be celebrating the holidays and New Year in the North of Madagascar with some friends! Upon my return back to site in January I will begin my secondary projects some of which include:
– Radio English course ( to be broadcasted once a week on the local radio!)
-Girls Empowerment and Motivational Club ( this group would include open forum discussions, Successful Malagasy Women Guest Speakers, and of course yoga!)
– Educational prenatal classes for new mothers and expecting mothers. (many women have approached me asking for information on how to properly take care and nurse their babies)
– Malaria prevention work ( I was voted the new Malaria Representative on the East Coast- malaria is prevalent among the East Coast due to the humidity and wet climate. Many families are not well educated about safety precautions and malaria in general.)
– HIV/AIDS educational theater group ( the idea being that my students would present small skits raising awareness about the effects of HIV/AIDS and discuss the various prevention methods)
My life and my passion to create real change in this world stems from one thing, that the beauty of life comes from the dedication we give to others. Growing up, I have always found tremendous wealth through the ability to better other lives but it is now that I am in my village in Madagascar, after 5 months of Peace Corps service that I have realized that my dedication to developing the lives of the impoverished is my calling. It is where I truly belong. Sending you love from across a couple oceans.