Saturday, June 13, 2009

apparently im fat

this is going to be a long post, i have to pack in all the good stuff before the internet shuts down and i got back to the village. ok, so...
in short, i am starting to feel like this is becoming my home. im not just a visitor anymore. its amazing to think what it was like when i first arrived in my village;the quizzical, at times fearful, stares i got from people have turned into enthusiastic embraces and shouts of hello across the tozn square. its so different than how it was two months ago. i constantly have a heard of children in my front yard who call me "mama." i cant tell if this is just languag confusion confusion or if they genuinely think i am their mama. their actual mamas come to drag them home at dusk. my neighbors call me "umukobwa wacyu" which means "our girl," and they come over for tea.we all laugh genuinely at the awkward follies of our halted conversations. i have a guy i buy milk from and an old lady i buy carrots from down the road. i loove (most of the time) leaving my gate open and hearing little footsteps and cautious "miriwes?" (hello?) i have a great photo of a 5 year old sitting in my living room (one of 3 rooms toal in my house) reqding q copy of The New Yorker i snagged from headquarters in the capital.
since i fail so miserably at updating this thing, i feel like i havent painted an adequate picture of my village. i guess that its kind of impossible considering that there is virtually nothing to compare it to in the states but i will try. my village is basically on top of a mountain, so the view is absolutely (at the risk of sounding totally cliche) breathtaking. i see the mountains of Burundi, the neighbor country, stretching on for what seems like forever. in the morning looking out my window, i sometimes cant really believe that i live here.the huge red sun fights the fog that settles in the valley basins, and there is an absence of sound that it both comforting and lonely. my house is surrounded by banana trees and sorghum fields, and the neighbors' goats and chickens occasionally wander through my gate. its only a 15 minute walk to the town cetner, which is essentially a few stores where you can by dusty cans of sardines and stale bread, and a few bars with beer (warm of course). the walk usually takes triple that time, however, because of the constant need to greet and chat with everyone i pass.
teaching is going well. my students are actually startiung to pay attention to what i am teaaching rather than being fascinated by what i am wearing or giggling nervously when i ask a question. things have already progressed~thinking back to the first day i walked into the classroom and stood alwardly in front of 60 teenagers, most of them boys, having not a clue what i was doing. now they are throwing their hands up and urgently shouting "me teacher me teacher me teacher!!!!!" if they know the answer. i had friend from the states who is working in uganda come visit and they wanted to sing for her. we were both expecting some nice traditional rwandan songs, so when they burst into a heartfelt rendition of T.I's "Whatever You Like" it was pretty adorable.
i love teaching, but im looking forward to stqrting my other projects. theres a group of women who get together to weave baskets who i happened to stumble upon at the health center.they invited me to join them and laughed hysterically at my inability to weave as swiftly as they do. i ended up staying for hours, just listening and talking to them, sitting in the grass braiding banana leaves. all of the women are extremely poor and have malnourished kids.they also dont have a place to sell their baskets, so i really want to being working with them. my friend who works at the health center is also in charge of a project working in over 60 villages that works with women in teaching them how to care for their babies, prepare food healthily, plan their families, and treat minor illnesses.he wants me to help him! i would basically be biking from hole to home, doing education on HIV AIDS, FP, nutrition, hygeine, infant and mother care, etc. cooking and playing with babies are two of my great loves in life, so im excited.
i thought i was going to be dying of boredom, but im honestly not. there are ALWAYS people to visit, people visiting me, runs to take. i have a group of 6 little ragamuffins who congregate at my door every evening at 5, shouting "tugende kwiruka, emma!!!" (lets go run, emma!) so i have no excuse to get fat despite the excessive amounts of milk i am forced to drink. although, people seem to enjoy commenting on how fat i am (thus the title of this post) and im not really sure why. i didnt think i was fat before coming herebut apparently Rwandans think otherwise.
so despite lack of electricity, running water, a fairly disgusting latrine, no internet, being half a world away from everyone i know, AND being called fat on average twice a week, i am happy.