So for the past few days I’ve been feeling like a total failure. I have to keep constantly reminding myself that I have 19 more months to go and I’ll figure it out soon and things will all fall into place. I feel like the hardest thing about Peace Corps is turning the visions we have for our communities into realities. Your community comes to you with a problem. You think of a solution. Then you need to figure out how to make it into a reality. Find the money. Find the time. Find the people who will carry it on after you leave. It’s all very daunting.
And sometimes I feel like I haven’t intergrated well. That I haven’t made an impact on my community and I’ll just be like another volunteer who’s come and went. Which in most regards is a normal thing. I think of peace corps volunteers like a random breeze on a sail. No one notices them, but they turn the ship to a different, better direction and then they are gone. And there is no record of them there. But a big part of peace corps is making connections with host country nationals so that they trust you and will go with you with these crazy ideas you have. And I’ve been worried that everythings moving so slowly partly because I’ve been super crappy at integrating. Which I’m not sure I’ve actually been bad at integrating….I could just be over thinking like I’m wont to do.
Anyway….I’m telling you all of these because of an experience I had just now walking to the market. My path to the market takes me through my neighbor’s backyard, past her pit latrine, through a field, through another backyard, through a football pitch, down the road, and then across the street. So I get to see a fair amount of my community when I go through. This time, as I went through the first back yard, one neighbor called out to me, “May I escort you?” Of course I said yes, and I was delighted to walk with someone new. We walked through the field and into the first backyard. As usual, around a dozen children came out of the wood work shrieking “Nagudi! How are you?!” They grabbed my hands and welcomed me through their yard and escorted us through the football field. Totally normal walk to the market. They shout “Nagudi” because I was annoyed at being called Muzungu in my own neighborhood, so I introduced myself to them. Nagudi is my African name. Anyway, the woman that I was walking with turned to me and said “The children like you. You know all of them. You are a good person with a good heart. You have good manners. You are good to the children and the adults that you meet. You have a good heart.” It was like the universe knew I needed a confidence boost today. It felt great! And about two seconds later, you know, just so I don’t get too cocky, the woman says to me, “ Ah Nagudi, but what are you eating? You are becoming fat!” Fat is actually a good thing here. And for the record, I’ve lost 18 lbs since I’ve been here. BOOM!