Saturday, July 31, 2010

Map Project

I'm currently in the middle of doing one of the most Peace Corps-ee projects a Peace Corps Volunteer can do...painting a world map at the high school. To help with costs I teamed up with another volunteer, Joanna, who lives in Mozogo, another village near Mokolo.

The first set of pictures are from Mozogo. She usually had electricity so we chose to project the map onto the wall and trace it from them. Unfortunately, there was no electricity that day (or for the past 5 days, for that matter) so MacGyvers that were are, we found a generator.

The next set are from my village. We used a grid to transpose and enlarge the map from sheets of paper to the wall. (These pics will come soon.)

Seeing as I have about 5 drops of artist blood from my mom, this project should be extremely impressive. All we need to do is write in names of countries and bodies of water. That must wait for paint markers traveling from stateside.

Au Revior, Beinget and Other Anecdotes

Beinget is now running around in the sweet grass fields of goat heaven. Yes...he's been eaten. I make no apologies; I did warn you that this event was in his future from the first time he showed up. Matt had the honor of killing him while his friends visited from the states. I admit that I couldn't watch it, but he was delicious both in a teriyaki sauce and a chipotle rub.

Here's to you Beinget. We had a good run.

Work-wise, I've had a pretty busy few months. For 3 days spaced out over May and June I trained pastors, imams, and community leaders in HIV/AIDS prevention, transmission, testing, and the effects of stigma in the community. Many of the participants were suprised to find out that our community has an HIV prevelance of over 3% (which is increasing yearly); with more and more men leaving the village to find work, the community is no longer isolated from HIV as it was in the past. Doing the training was challenging because many of the participants came in with little knowledge of the subject, but many false beliefs about HIV. (An example: There is HIV already in condoms, so using one is dangerous.)

The most difficult part was talking about condoms to a group of religious leaders. The first day I brought them up and did my condom demonstration it caused an uproar. "Condoms are immoral!" "Condoms promote infidelity." After my demonstration, I was asked to remove the model penis and condoms from the table because it was too distracting. With the advice from a church elder that I met with before the final training day, I was able to promote condoms in a more positive light: it is one's own responsibility to use condoms in certain situations. In the end I had 25 participants sign up to receive their own demonstration models. This training only scratched the surface of combatting HIV/AIDS in the community and I'm hoping that the volunteer that comes after me can do more work in this field.

Penis model

In other news, I was walking to my latrine a few months ago and found this relaxing in the sun on the rock pile next to the latrine door:

Obviously, I freaked out. Some children came to help me remove it, but it started raining and it slithered away. A few nights later I found it's tail creeping into the path of the latrine doorway. In a fright I scampered out of my compound and interrupted two grandfathers chatting on some rocks. They jumped up, grabbed sticks and crept up to where the snake was lying. Then they laughed. Apparently this snake isn't dangerous to big animals (like myself); it eats mice. I was "lucky" to have one. One of them had 3 in his compound! After they left I still had to go to the bathroom, but the snake was still lurking. I relieved myself a safe distance away. No other sightings since then, but I'm caustiously (paranoidly) look all over the path and in the rafters before peeing.

I'll end on a lighter note.

Sledding in the semi-desert of Cameroon.