Weekly photo 15

Lantern Festival, Toyama, Japan, 7/2010



India. Epic. I went on a short volunteer trip with a friend to do housebuilding and community development (play with kids, basically – and fill in for the teacher when he just didn’t show up one day). It’s the second time I’ve gone with this organization (the first trip was a much larger group, and slightly longer trip), to the same region, just different villages. I really like this group. They do housebuilding, education projects, and more to support Dalits (Untouchables) in southeast India.

Image borrowed from a friend

The housebuilding addresses the issue of inadequate housing, of course, but also the social implications of having a better home, and the financial implications of spending less time and money fixing your mud walls after heavy rains – time and money that could be used for other things, like working more or buying healthier food. The education projects focus on the abysmal high school graduation rates in the region’s villages, stemming from a number of issues, from illiterate parents who see little value in education, to teachers who abuse students due to their caste status. The organization also works on educating the villagers about their rights as citizens of India, and what the government is supposed to do but doesn’t – if they don’t know the government is not doing its job, they don’t know to stand up for themselves.

playing games at one of the schools (also borrowed from a friend; she took more pictures than I)

The international volunteers are a source of funds, as well as manpower for housebuilding. Some of the funds we raise go towards materials, but some go towards employing local masons. Our job is to help them out with things like carrying the cement bricks they use or bringing them tools. Occasionally, when a larger volunteer group is there, we get to help pour the cement for a roof (that takes a lot of hands). The families, of course, do a lot of work on their own houses. It must be such a feeling of accomplishment and pride, knowing you helped build your own house.

Having international volunteers there, though, does more than that. We go in without the caste prejudices, and we love on all those kids – kids that many people in India outside of that caste won’t touch. We also bring in new ideas, and make the ever-important human connections that remind people that they aren’t forgotten. It sounds super cheesy, I know, but it’s true. Clearly, I’m not going to forget the people in either of the villages I’ve worked in. I’m trying to figure out how to go a third time, and despite my literature and language degree I’ve taken on the responsibility of creating and running the organization’s website. Umm, can you say crazy? But hey, we do crazy things for love, and I love India. 🙂

;I think this organization does what PC does, in a way. It brings people to smaller areas where residents may feel forgotten, and through building relationships it works to make people self-sustainable in the long run. The goal is not just to help people; it’s to help people help themselves.

;I have more pictures (link on the right), but there are faces of people whose permission I haven’t gotten to post, so I have them password-protected. If you know the password, you can check them out. If you don’t know the password but think you should, let me know. 🙂

Weekly photo 14

Lisboa, Portugal, 9/2006

Weekly photo 13

Week 13, April 15, 2011:

Cherry blossoms, Fukui, Japan, 4/2011

It’s cherry blossom time here! ❤

Medical hold

Sorry for the delay. I’ve been busy getting into the swing of things after my trip to India.

I emailed PC before leaving, saying I’d have limited-to-no email contact in India, and my medical contact responded not to worry, because they wouldn’t even be getting to my med kit until a while after I returned. Well. The day after I left, I got an email that my status had been updated. OHMIGAWDPANICRAWR. But it just said a medical hold had been placed. When I got back, I received a scary DHL envelope asking for more info on two issues, one current and one past. I can’t go to the doctor until April 25 (I have to work the Saturday before so I get Monday off), so I’m hoping to do both appointments that day. I guess it’s good, though, that they’re already looking at it. Gives me (false) hope that I’ll know where I’m going before I leave Japan this summer…

Weekly photo 12 (late)

Week 12, April 13, 2011:

Manginapudi Beach, India, April 1, 2011

It’s that time – RAS has hit

For those of you just getting into the Peace Corps world, there are an awful lot of acronyms. I haven’t figured half of them out yet. But RAS is a big one. It stands for Restless Applicant Syndrome, and describes exactly where I am now:

“omigawd I turned in my application six months ago and they’ve had my medical kit for a month why haven’t they looked at it yet somebody please give me medical clearance and pass my application on so I can be given a placement I want to know where I’m living for 27 months hurry up already I don’t care if you’re government you’re too damn slow why is this taking so long I want to hit my head against a wall there’s no more info for me to look up I’ve already figured out 95% sure where you want me to go but it might change so for goodness’ sake hurry up so I can start planning my life it’s not fair why are you doing this to me what have I done to deserve this I don’t care if it takes this long for everybody I’m not everybody I’m me so get a move-on.”

More or less.

Yes, I’m 95% sure I know where they want me to go. But just in case I’m not cleared for it, I’m looking up every country that has left in September or October for the past few years, even if they don’t technically have my program (plus all the ones that do have my program, regardless of when they usually leave. I think I know everything about THE ENTIRE WORLD now.

But it won’t make this process go any faster. It would be nice to know by May, though, because that’s when I’ll probably start getting rid of or shipping home my winter clothes. If I’m going somewhere cold, I’ll keep more of them. But I highly doubt I’ll know by May, because they probably won’t even start looking at my medical kit until June sometime. Le sigh.