I’ve spent the last five months, very good months, traveling all around Niger doing all sorts of interesting things, I just spent the last three weeks working with 33 new volunteers. This last three weeks gave me some great rejuvenation, the year mark is a hard mark for volunteers (Man I can’t believe it’s been a year), In the beginning I spent so much time integrating into my village that it was like a full time job, learning the language, meeting new people, learning how to live in Niger. And now life has kind of normaled out a little bit, a bit mundane to be honest, I speak Hausa with relative fluency, I know the people I want to talk to and interact with, I am integrated. This combined with the fact that it is rainy season and most of our projects get put on hold because everyone is concerned with farming, this happens to be a boring time in the Life of a PCV in Niger. I am hopeful that in the next few months that It will pick up again, and I can deal with my little issues, as long as it continues to rain and my villagers have adequate food supplies come next hunger season. Being able to transfer all of the knowledge that I have learned to the new volunteers has been really good because, I feel as though I have actually gained a lot of skills by being here, and that I really have grown in many ways in the last year. The 33 new volunteers are an amazing group of people, I think that the recession in America caused a bunch of qualified people to sign up for Peace Corps, because this group has their sh*t together. I really enjoyed my time working with them and can’t wait for them to be out working in the field.
I am working on a proposal for a hospital building, running into a couple of road bumps which may prohibit it from happening but hopefully all will work out and it will be online, looking for donations, within the next couple of months. This hospital building will sleep up to 6 patients who currently have to sleep outside when they are sick. In the mean time I am burning more millet stalk, saving up charcoal powder to form it into briquettes when rainy season is over. This next year is going to be full of analysis of the project, making sure that is it worthwhile, and profitable, I will also be testing it to see what kind of things I can cook with it. Then I will spend some time training other volunteers and villagers from within my community to make charcoal in their own villagers.
I’ve been future thinking a lot lately, I don’t know why, maybe it’s the boredom, maybe it’s that I only have a year left in Niger (they say the second year flies by faster than the first), and I have no idea what I am going to do after I’m done here. I think that’s okay, and I’m open to all sorts of suggestions. I’m actually taking the Foreign Service Officer Exam in October (gonna spend the next month in ville studying for that). Maybe grad school? Maybe Peace Corps work? I guess it comes little by little, and you just gotta let it happen. I’m excited about the FSOE, and about the next year in Niger, hopefully it’ll be a good one J
So, lastly I’ll talk about Ramadan. Niger is a 98% Muslim country, and all of my friends are fasting for the holy month of Ramadan. Its an interesting time in Niger, and I think I am going to fast when I go back to Ville in a couple of days. When they fast, at 430ish to a guy banging a pot, and singing to wake every one up, they drink and eat and then have their morning prayer. Then its nap time, they wake back up around 7 and head to the fields to check on their crop, then for the men, it’s basically nap time for the rest of the day, before the second to last prayer they begin to prepare their food and drink to break fast with, everyone has their own breaking fast rituals (what they like to drink and eat and how they like to drink and eat that). A lot of money is saved up and spent on good food, ice, biscuit crakers, and other treats to break fast with, which means good dinners at friends’ houses for the next few months. So I am going to give it a shot, and I’ll let you know how it works out next month when I come back in from Ville.
Take Care - Ousmane