Well hello! I've been getting a little better about keeping a journal recently, which means I should go ahead and work on trying to keep up this blog – nothing worse than constantly checking a blog and finding it hasn't been updated in months, right? I'm very sorry! Life continues to have it's ups and downs, but it's still adventuring on and I'll try and catch up to where I am now by re-reading what I did write in my journal. Here I was thinking that I hadn't updated since September (and thus I prepared posts from September up to now) but look at this – I even posted something as recently as November! Well, I'll still give the re-cap anyway since I already typed it all up.
September – a month of many beginnings
-Ah yes, the beginning labor pains of Moringa Project (also known as the 'Ok, Let's Try This Another Way' Project). September was when I started talking to the Mayor, the Prefet, and the chief about a project to have elementary school students plant and water moringa trees, linking this with a schedule of health lessons by myself and the ASC's (community health agents) and motivating the students to water their trees by making it a competition with Emily's neighboring village of Kalsaka. Using the arrival of the bike tour as publicity, Emily and I held a big meeting for the people involved (the Major, the ASC's, anyone from the schools that we could find during the summer vacation) and it seemed off to a good start. This was our first time turning in our grant application, asking for money for fencing for the trees to stop goats, sheep, and cows from destroying them.
-This was also the month that I began investigating the lack of money for the library. I found out that the Maison des Jeunes is supposed to pay the mayor's office a fee every month for some chairs Lauren bought them during the construction of the library, but we weren't sure if it was getting paid or why the mayor's office wasn't passing that money on to the library. In my fear of saying the wrong thing and possibly complicating the situation further, I moved very tentatively and slowly, effectively accomplishing nothing beyond learning what was supposed to be happening, but wasn't.
-My mom and uncle David came to visit! Too much to even say in a re-cap, but it was amazing. We saw Ouaga, my village, the granite sculpture gardens and President's zoo in Zinyare, lunch with friends in Ouahigouya. It was so wonderful to see friendly faces, and to get to share a part of this experience so deeply with people I love.
-Went to swear-in for the new stage, which was part of a 3 day fair/exhibition in Ouaga to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Peace Corps. Our country was one of the only ones to do a public celebration, let alone to go to the effort of a 3 day event. It was madness, but it only rained the first day and overall I think it went really well.
-I started spending more time and effort to re-connect to a few of my friends in the US (which is probably a contributing factor to writing less on here). It takes a lot more time to respond individually, but I started feeling a lot happier to be taking the chance to re-build old friendships and feel closer to people I care about even though we're so far away.
-I was starting to look at grad programs, in September I was leaning more towards getting a graduate degree as a Nurse Practitioner in Midwifery. That has since shifted to a focus on Women's Health, having spent a lot of time in the maternity and being much happier helping with the day to day work on a predictable time schedule rather than the 3am births. So far I've found 7 programs that look promising, but I'm still on the search since I have over a year until I can apply – I'm not in any big hurry to get things decided because I want (and need) to focus on being here and now, which is hard when I get deep into “grad school research” mode.