And just like that, I’ve wrapped up my first three months of living in Mahatalaky! Since I arrived n Madagascar in July, Peace Corps has been hammering into me the concept of “the first three months.” They’re supposed to be the hardest months, the longest months, and the truest test of whether or not you’ll be able to make it living here in Madagascar. And I made it! I leave tomorrow from Fort Dauphin for Antananarivo, where I have my In-service Training for Peace Corps all next week. Then on December 17 I leave for Paris! I return here to Fort Dauphin on December 27, and will spend New Year’s in Mahatalaky, which I’m very excited about because everyone has told me that Mahatalaky is really “miresaky” aka happening during the New Year’s holiday! Since my last post, I’ve just continued living the mitsangasangana life! So basically waking up, drinking my coffee, chatting with my friends, then doing chores. I spent a few days working on building the new CEG school with the ONG Azafady volunteers, which was a lot of fun. The biggest thing I’ve done is my community Diagnostic Survey, a report that I have to turn in to Peace Corps…
Learning Something New Everyday
I thought that the report was just going to be kind of busy work to make us new volunteers feel more productive, but the more people I interviewed, the more I learned. And what struck me as the most interesting thing was that every kid and teenager I talked to had these big dreams and aspirations, just the same as any kid you would talk to in the US. It took me by surprise to realize that the kids in Mahatalaky are not limited by where they live or what their parents do. They still want to be doctors and lawyers and businessmen. Almost all of the kids said they didn’t want to live in Mahatalaky when they grew up because there weren’t jobs for them there, and that to be successful in the careers they were striving for, they would have to move to Fort Dauphin or Antananarivo. I was even more surprised to learn about the kids who live and study in Mahatalaky but whose parents live in a fokontany far away, so they live alone. There’s three boys in particular who are part of the usual gang of preteens and teenagers that are always around me who I was shocked to find out live together in one room of a hut and cook their own food and wash their own clothes because their families live in a smaller village 20 km away. That kind of commitment to education, moving away from your family and having no adult guidance or support is something that I just don’t think you would ever find in the western world. We go to school because we have to, we go the college because it’s expected, and how else would you get a job. But here in Madagascar, and in Mahatalaky, education is a privilege, and it comes at a price. It tugged at my heartstrings to hear about the big dreams these kids have, and reminded me once again why I am living here. Even more, it makes me so excited to start my new projects when I get back in January.
Thanks for all the emails, phone calls, and facebook posts! It was great to hear from so many people on my birthday. I can’t believe I’m 23; I’m an old lady now! We had a little birthday party here in Mahatalaky with my family and friends; it was a lot of fun. We drank soda and beer (always a special treat) and ate fried bananas and lychees, my favorite foods! I even practiced dancing the Mangaliba, the traditional Antanosy dance, but I’m still terrible at it. All in all, it was a lovely day, if not a little strange what with the 90-degree weather! I’m still getting used to that. J Here are a few photos for your enjoyment and amusement! XOXO
|My favorite 12 year old in the world|