Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Malahelo Madagasakara!!

Akoryaby!!! I'm in denial that I'm not in Madagascar still....and don't want to lose my language skills because I'm quite confident that I'm going back, so I still speak in Malagasy quite often. Not sure if it's going to be soon or a wee bit later, but I know for sure that I need to get back to my hut in the sand. I'm now in the capital of S. Africa- Pretoria, just bummin' around. It's been another mind- twisting week. I had a great interview with the country director of Guinea, got accepted to go, and started to get soooo excited about the idea of a brand new adventure to add on to my journey....until I went to the dentist for a checkup. I haven't had any problems with my teeth since I've been about 12, but with the bad teeth genes in the family (my dad told me he pretty much has all dead teeth by now), I was a wee bit nervous. And rightly so...I had to get a root canal yesterday and still have to get me 3 remaining wisdom teeth extracted. All of this mess disqualifies me to direct transfer to Guinea, because in the Peace Corps "rules" states that to direct transfer after an evacuation, you will only be approved for simple tooth fillings. Peace Corps first tried to tell me I just have to go home to get it taken care of but I was really mad about that, since they started jacking up my teeth, I insisted they finish it here so I don't have to worry about it. Sooo...my life is sooooo up in the air right now. Although this has made me very upset and feeling alone (because my good friends from my stage are all moving on to Mali and Namibia), I need to look at this in a positive light and be thankful for the free will that's ahead. It's all happening for a reason, which I'm pretty sure is the fact that I will be getting back to Radagasakara SOONER rather than later. All this might mean I may have to come back to America until Peace Corps re- opens the program in Madagascar (July at the earliest), although I'm tempted to get back to my hut immediately after my teeth are better, on my own because I know my village is safe -they were sooo confused why I had to leave in the first place because they had noooo idea of all the political craziness going on in the bigger cities since no access to media. My co- workers, fellow villagers, and friends would be soooo happy to take care of me. I've been dreaming about it and need to follow my dreams, like I always have...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

it'll all work out!!

Hey y'all!!! This is all happening soooo fast. I've lost about 1/2 of the 19 members of my stage, but there are still 7 of us going on for direct transfer. Some PCV's are making safari trips, some going to the beautiful city of Cape Town, some going back home to the States. I did make it past the "first cut" but still have lotsa interviewing and more paperwork to do this week. We;re all going our seperate ways and whatever my future Peace Corps experience is, won't be the same without all of our stage together. What is cool, is how many friends I will know around America and the world. I'm grateful to have gotten to meet sooo many great people, but it just won't be quite as bright without them, especially my super fantastic friend, Lindsay. We were together since day 1- she was the first girl I saw in the Philly airport back in September, both of us lugging our over sized baggage across the airport and pointing out right away that we were Peace Corps/ Madagascar volunteers. It worked out for us to be in the same language group during all of training, and then placed in the same region. It's been important to have someone to really get to know and trust , as we went through the krazy adventure on the Red Island, together. But now I'm shifting gears and getting very excited of the prospect of seeing a brand new culture and forming a new family. Western Africa is actually where my heart desired to be placed originally- Ghana to be exact, but both Togo and Guinea are not too far away. I know all don't believe this philosophy, but I sure have faith that everythin' happens for a reason!! We'll see....

Friday, March 20, 2009

where is this adventure going????

Hey y'all, Well I first want to let all of you know that I'm very safe and healthy. Happy, maybe not soo much, but today I woke up with the energy that I will need to continue in whatever direction God is taking me. Today, March 20th, 2009, is my 'COS' (Close of Service) date from Madagascar ;( .This has been a looog week of administrative and medical paperwork for all of us 115 Madagascar PCV's and the P.C. staff that are staying at what seems like a ridiculously nice hotel in Johannesburg, S. Africa. My first night here on Monday, I realized I am not ready to be in the developed world yet. On Dec. 10th, 2008, I made a commitment to serve in the developing world, for my country for 2 years and I am ready to honor that promise, despite my heartache of possibly not serving it in my beloved village of Antetezambaro. All week, I;ve woken up confused because of the waaay too fluffy beds, and thought about what I would be doing in my village- going for my morning jog with my running club, fetching water, taking my bucket bath under the morning sun, going fishin with my lil boys, gossiping with my good friend Nirina or the women at the medical clinic. Every day, I still have random spurts that the tears spill out. That place was sooooo perfect for me, I feel it in my bones!!! And although I wish I never had to leave, I know we had to, and I know that I will go back in the future and many of my good friends will still be there. Today I finally felt ready to write about all this, as I'm finally progressing to a more positive mental state, and I'm imagining my options of what could be next in this adventure. Currently, I'm in the running to transfer to either Guinea or Togo, both western African countries. I'd be excited about either, but the big problem is that both require french and I did not do so well on my test. Not surprising because I havent taken french since I was 16 and of course, I've been speaking Malagasy the past 6 months so that was all that was coming out!! There are about 10 other health PCV's trying to transfer as well so it is competetive but I'm still trying to be confident. And if it doesn't work out, then it wasn't meant to be for me. We'll see! I'll try to keep you updated on my next steps of this spiraling staircase. Cheers*

Friday, March 13, 2009

Mis ratsy vao_vao; maharatra fo (bad news; broken heart)

Today is friday the 13th, shouldve known it,d be a bad one. The word for Friday is Zoma, the first word that comes to mind is DOOMa because my life feels that way right now. As soon as I awoke in Hotel Marotia, which are the beautiful bungalows on the beach that Lindsay and I stay at while banking every month, I rapidly remembered why I was there_ not for my monthly breakaway but because Peace Corps/ Mad is being torn away from country for a while because of the ongoing political instability. I found out yesterday (Thursday) after a wonderful morning of teaching, discussing, weighing, and playing with babies, when a villager told me that I needed to call Peace corps NOW. My heart dropped even before I got the message confirming that I needed to get to Tamatave to meet up with all volunteers in my area, before we go back to Montasoa, fill out paperwork then head to S; Africa to figure out what we want to do with our lives. It looks like I have the choice to transfer to another country, which would mean starting over with a new host family, training group, culture, and language. The option that I think Im leaning towards is waiting out for madagascar to reopen so I can get back to my life that I have already fallen in love with. This is all happening soooo fast, a whirlwind of emotions and paperwork and I think I still may be in shock. My heart and head was prepared to be here for 2 years, which means I am not fulfilled with the 6 months of service Ive put in thus far. even though Id LOVE to see many of you, I just cant come back to America just yet, especially with how bad the economy is doing, just doesnt sound good. So Im keeping my mind open and seeing where life takes me. I need more positive thoughts than ever to keep my head up through all this. misaotra*

Friday, March 6, 2009

Happy 48th anniversary, Peace Corps!!

Happy Peace Corps Week y,all!!!! Make Prez JFK proud and get out and do something for your country and our world!!;) I woke up motivated on Monday to start thinking about my gymnastics class I want to start_ the kids here are natural gymnasts. They,re constantly in the sand pits trying back flips by themself or mastering their balancing skills every time they cross the rivers and rice paddy creeks on the stick "bridge". Even with my gymnastics skills, ive already taken a spill in the creek while taking the 1K trek on the trail from my hut to the Ocean. That was an adventure!! Since its the wet season, until June, the trail is basically a swamp of water and muck up to my calves, but reaching the glorious ocean side is worth the challenging trek. My friend Nirina, was flying through it, looking back every minute, and laughing at how cautious I had to be, since the bottoms of my feet are milemelemy (weak) and knowing if I tried to speed through it, Id make another spill in the swamp. But I got 2 years to master the trek!!;) Anyways, about my sports club i want to start. I think itd be great for my kids to have an organized class that they can help each other and learn healthy stretching technques and have a coach that can spot them to try more challenging skills. So next week Im going to observe and do a wee bit of health lessons at the EPP, which is equivelent to our elementery schools and advertise a tumbling club as well. Ill let ya know how the turn out is once i get it on the ground. Im excited to get back into a school to do some teaching as well. I do have to say even though I love the flexibility of my workday, i also miss the comfort of having your own students and classroom. yesterday I made a new friend, a young lady, 23 who teaches pre-K kids and Im going to start doing some basic english lessons with them. Im looking forward to it because the school is in a village thats 1/2 way from my site, antetezambaro, to Tamatave (Toamasina on a map) which is my banking town, where i am now. So stopping off on my bike ride to tamatave, and giving my butt a break;), every friday to teach and have lunch with my new friend Noro, sounds like something Im going to love. But like I said, has been great to have the freedom to formulate my own work schedule, based on my observations of what my community and region needs. Im here for them, I constantly remind myself, and am always keeping my eyes and mind open to new projects and assignments that will benefit my neighbors. So far, my work weeks compose of taking a morning run at 6 AM with a group of pre-teens, preparing my morning porridge and washing dishes, then preparing for my health kabary that I give at the CSB at 9AM, which is the medical house where i work and live behind. My walk to work is a whole 30 seconds long, so Peace Corps new what they were doing when they posted me here, knowing that I like to procrastinate, sleep in, and enjoy a short commute to work;) After my kabary, Ill sit around and chat and weigh some babies. Around 12 I go home to prepare my rice and loca (fish and side dish), take my hour miala sasitra (happy nappy). Often times there are not a lot of patients in the afternoon after lunch, which Im realizing will be a great time to teach in the schools. Im finally feeling confident enough in my language skills to get out there and Im noticeably more fluent in thinking in Gasy, Im even dreaming in Malagasy often, which has been a huge sense of accomplishment for me. Not too long ago, I felt as if Id NEVER be able to understand it!!! Just a matter of time.... Mila miresaka, de mahay be zaho!! (Need to chat with people, then Ill be able to speak well). I got to sit with a mother and her new born for about an hour this week, just a few hours after she gave birth. She was happy for me to want to hold the lil guy and give her a lil break to lay down. She named him Elvis and laughed when I told how thats an American singing superstar, she had no idea, just saw the name on a frip shirt and loved it, which is all the good_ will clothing that gets sent over from the States. I cant believe its March already!!! 2009 is already flying by!!!! Again, thanks to all for keeping in touch, your messages on here, email, letters and packages!! Its great to still be connected, although on the complete opposite side of the world. ( If you look on a globe; Madigasikara pretty much is the polar opposite side) Keep em comin!! You can use my newer address now that Im back home:

Kanto Jessica Cummings, PCV c/o Daline Derival, PCV
c/o Hopitaly Kely
B.P. 374- Tamatave 501

Misaotra betsaka!!! (thanks a lot) Cheers*