Dear Family and Friends,
What is normal? What is okay? What is reality. After 2 years of living abroad I have seen myself, my attitude, and my values slowly change. I have noticed that my friendships have slowly come apart and my relationship with things “ back home” have changed drastically, I am not sure how to explain these feelings but can sum them up to be: relative. My world for the last 2 years has been revolved around helping others. While I have been here, I feel that it has been extremely difficult to keep frienships and relationships alive back home. I can only assume that it is because of the lack of relativeness between both lives. A wise PCV (peace Corps volunteer) once told me that it is harder to re-integrate into your community back home than it is to integrate into this community here. Seeing that I am coming up on my Close of Service, the though of re-integrtion is a scary one. My level of comfort with the simple life and current reality make it extremely difficult to imagine coming back to the States. I also look bak on all of the things I have been able to achieve here, whether successful or not successful, I have learned and grown tremendously through each experience. From organizing festivals with audiences amounting to 700 people to visiting the deep countryside reaching out to the poorest of the poor, and educating them about prevention methods to various diseases,
This country has changed me. It has opened my mind to a plethora of thoughts. I can confidently say that this is just the beginning of a long life of service. I am not sure where life will take me after peace corps. What I do know is it will involve serving others. It will involve giving my heart to those who need it most. The most fulfilling part of life is giving yourself, and that is what I intend to do.
GIRLS EMPOWERMENT CLUB !
Today we discussed gender roles in the MALAGASY community. Words like
” pounding rice, fetching water, stopping their education” we’re seen on the female side. We held a discussion about the importance women hold in their households, in their community, in the world.
Favorite quote of the day from a 13 year old girl. (Translated)
“Miss Charlotte the reason why need women is well… Boys have no idea how to take care of themselves. We are the WORLD! “
Two weeks ago I brought 4 girls from Mahanoro to participate in a GLOW camp- Girls Leading Our World weeklong camp in Tana. ( the capital). The catch being that when they come back they needed to develop their own Girls Empowerment Club.
This is a photograph taken of their first meeting yesterday! Over 45 girls showed up. My 4 outstanding Presidents of the (soon to be) GLOW Club Mahanoro held an amazing meeting. They discussed and outlined the different topics that will be discussed every week. Topics carrying from “how to further your education” to “how to properly out a condom on”, “how to avoid teenage pregnancy” … Etc. every week we will have a strong woman from the community, a doctor, teacher, mother, come and talk to the Club about her life story and her goals.
It brought tears to my eyes to see 45 girls show up and to see the leadership skills come out in my 4 presidents.
So proud of them.
This is my neighbor she makes these really cool wood sculptures and paints them with bright colors.
Today she gifted me two for my birthday (tomorrow) she asked me how old I was turning. I responded 24. She looked relieved and responded, “ohh thank god! That means that I have many years to learn English. Many years until you are old and wrinkly you will stay here in Mahanoro and I will then speak English!”
Recently I have decided to try and take one portrait a day. With every portrait comes a conversation. This has allowed me not only practice my Malagasy but get to know individuals in my community and people who I pass on my daily walks.
These are some of my favorite portraits during the past two weeks.