Monday, January 10, 2011

Suitcases, Dogs, and Condoms, Oh My!

I moved out of my house today in preparation to Close of Service (COS). Me and my mountain of crap are now at the Peace Corps Diego house. On Wednesday, me and only some of my crap are going to Ambanja (and then Nosy Be- google image search that if you want to be jealous) for my going away party. That's right, GOING AWAY. Because I'm friggin out of here. I don't mean to sound like I want to leave. I don't want to go home and be unemployed in a country where politicians put targets over other politicians districts and then people shoot the targeted politician. Yeah. I love it here in Diego (and in Madagascar for that matter), but it does seem like it's time to move on (maybe it's just the heat). Leaving my house is sad. It's probably the one and only time I will be living somewhere with a waterfront view and 8 or more friendly dogs that I have no responsibility for but that I can play with a talk to. Bye guys.
Speaking of the dogs (they aren't *mine*, they just live in my yard; I don't feed them much, and when I do, it's usually just my favorite one), they sometimes follow me when I leave... at least for a little while, and then they go back. But one night, a few days ago, they were feeling a little adventurous, or bored, or desperate... and 8 of them followed me all the way out of my neighborhood. When we got to a main road, I told them to go back as I didn't want to compromise their safety just for the entertainment of all of the Malagasy people who were laughing at the white girl with a parade of dogs behind her. Two of them carried on their pursuit. I got to downtown (like 2.5 miles from home) and went into shop to browse. The two dogs waited in the doorway (much to the shopkeepers dismay). When I left, they followed me. I was meeting up with 14 British/Scottish/Welsh/Irish people at an outdoor pizza place. The dogs sat with me the whole time, and I had to explain to everyone that they followed me from home. (For the record, I didn't feed them anything; I didn't want to encourage them to follow me to town all the time). I took a taxi home (without them, obviously) and they were both sitting wagging their tails on my porch when I opened the door in the morning. Man, those are some happy goodtime having dogs.

See how much fun we have?
This last week I worked with a health NGO called Population Services International (PSI)( )( ). They have the most logical and effective program on the ground of any NGO working in Madagascar that I know of. Their mission is to increase family planning and decrease the spread of STIs through education and outreach, and having products (birth control, condoms) widely available at realistically affordable prices. I (along with 2 other PCVs who have never taught before, so I offered my assistance / I stole the class from them) did a few English classes with the PSI staff (they're all Malagasy). The staff includes doctors and professionals in their fields (read: they are fancy). Their motivation, curiosity and desire to learn is palpable (are you reading that, Evan?). It was fun teaching a lesson on the fly, and they had fun too. We did again later in the week.
On Saturday, I went with two health PCVs to observe a PSI peer-educator session. What they do is recruit prostitutes (Diego is a popular place for sexual tourism, and prostitution is everywhere anyways, even without that added dimension) and work with them to educate them on health issues affecting prostitutes (avoiding unwanted pregnancy, spread of STIs, you know) and then they educate the other prostitutes. They get beverages and snacks for coming to sessions (win). I've observed them working before (peer educating, not...), and it's always very interesting. This time we went to an information session in someones backyard. The woman asked the other women questions like "how long after you are infected with HIV will it take to show in a positive test" and "how can you become infected" etc, etc, and they would argue about the answer and come to a conclusion and she would give them the real answer. They use a very good education technique which requires the participants to debate and discuss, question what they know, see what they think they know that is wrong, and correct it. They had the women do condom demonstrations. They talked about where you can get them, how much they cost. They talked about getting tested for STIs, where you can do it, how much it costs, and gave them waivers for discounts at the doctors. The women seemed very interested in all of the information and participated in all aspects of the session. Since PSI recruits peer leaders, the information seems genuine. And if they think that their peers are using condoms and getting tested, they'll be more likely to jump on board. Go PSI, woo!
So there's that... Now I have to go through all of my stuff and organize and reorganize until I give up because it's all unorganizable.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you're coming home, but I'm gonna miss this blog. Start another one when you go to grad school, OK?

Your very proud
Aunt Fran