So I got assaulted...then painted a mural : )
Towards the end of September I decided I really ought to start working since the rainy season was coming to an end and school was starting up. I drafted a design of a mural illustrating the uses of Moringa (a tree with medicinal properties to help prevent/treat hypertension, malnutrition, and diabetes, amongst other things). My idea was approved by my health center and I invited nearby trainees to come help. After drawing the image on the wall in chalk, I went to meet Liz at the intersection where taxis leave the passengers. On my way some guy came out of the palm tree plantation and asked where I was going. This is not so unusual so I told him and then he asked for my phone. It seemed as though he just wanted to make a call so I asked why he wanted it and who he wanted to call. At this point the man approached me and insisted that I give him my phone. Still I refused, although by now I was getting a bit nervous; I knew he was going to steal my phone. He went to grab the phone out of my hand but I held on and we "tug-of-warred" for a minute. At some point I fell to the ground, maybe he pushed me. Then I started screaming, hoping someone would hear me...but this just made my assualter angry. He began choking me, pressing one of his hands to my throat while I kicked him repeatedly and kept trying to make noise to draw attention to our location. After another minute or so it became obvious no one was coming so I released my phone and the guy ran off. I got up, a bit shaken but ok and continued along the road to meet Liz. Luckily I met a few people I knew so I told them what happened and they stayed with me until Liz arrived. We then walked back to my village center and I told Liz about what had just happened. By the time we got back to my house, the whole village knew about my attack and they were waiting for me to give an official report of the incident. I met my counterpart at his office in the health center with the sous-prefet (like mayor of my village and the surrounding area), the chief of police, and most of my brothers/random community members who wanted to help. I gave them a report and then went with the police to the "scene of the crime" where they looked for "clues" (all they found was one partial footprint...).
After I went back to my house I called the PC safety and security officer to tell her about the incident and assure her that I was safe and it was not a targetted attack. After this another volunteer, Allison, showed up and the three of us went to the health center to work on my moringa mural. The day ended well and Liz spent the night. Although it was quite scary when it first happened, I think of my aussalt as kind of comical now because the police "search" was so ridiculous and my community response was amazing. I was happily surprised that my whole village wanted to help find the guy and over the following couple weeks people all over my area of Guinea (not just my village) were talking about it and being extra nice to me.
|Allison, Liz, and Salif at chez moi|
|Allison and me painting|
Halloween and Thanksgiving
For halloween Mary (another volunteer) and I planned a party at the volunteer house in Boke for all volunteers in the region (about 15 of us). We bought tons of vodka, mixers, and delicious food from the supermarket. We made invitations for all PCVs in the region and took a vote on what we would have for dinner and breakfast. At the actual event, there were 13 of us and everyone had a costume!!! We made veggie and meat lasagnas, tacos, pudding and fruit trifle, and had bacon and eggs with pancakes for breakfast. It was unbelievably good and a great success as Boke house is considered "lame" by the other regions. With this party we put Boke on the map and we are now on par with the parties of other houses : )
|Me and Megan representing Public Health-ers|
Zebra and Giraffe : )
This year Thanksgiving was celebrated in Conakry with 30 volunteers, Julie (our country director) and her husband, and a few friends of volunteers. Volunteers from all over Guinea came with each training group being represented. We all helped cook, and together made: pumpkin pie, apple crumble, fruit tart, veggie lasagna, pasta salad, mashed potatoes, sweet potatos, homemade rolls, green beans, grean bean cassarole, and wine. I made stuffing from scratch with a couple other PCVs and it was a great success....it was seriously some of the best stuffing I've ever had. Julie and Paul provided two turkeys and homemade brownies. During dinner we went around the tables taking turns saying what we were most thankful for. The majority of people said the PC family...we all share something so special by living and serving here together, we become extremely close and these people do become our families.
|pumpkin pie, apple crisp, apple pie, fruit tarts, and brownies|
|Gramma's homemade cranberry sauce!!|
|carving the turkey|
|clean up time|
and then I finally started working!
Early in November my friend Liz, an education PCV in Kolabui, asked me if Bintimodia has a girls’ soccer team, because her team would like to come play in my village. At that time there was no team, but with the help of my host brother, Amadou, we created a team so Kolabui could come play us. The first week in November Amadou and I invited all the girls in the middle school to come play soccer after school and Amadou found a coach for the girls. Every evening the girls practiced and had a few games against other local girls’ teams in preparation for the game against Kolabui. To increase participation and interest I agreed to train with the girls each day. The match verse Kolabui was scheduled for December 1st, World AIDS Day.
I have also started a youth group, called GJECB (say it like Jacob) or Groupement de Jeunesse pour l’Education Communautaire de Bintimodia (Youth Group for Community Education in Bintimodia). We are a group of about 10 boys and girls from the middle school (mostly high school aged though) and we discuss issues pertaining to the health and wellbeing of young people. We perform skits and present on various health topics at community events and in the schools. Our first presentation, on HIV was scheduled for World AIDS Day, the same day as the girls’ soccer match.
The day of the match my soccer team gathered at the coach’s house after school to eat and relax before the game. The Kolabui team arrived in the afternoon and after a brief warm-up the match began. All the girls played extremely well and the game was 0-0 until the last few minutes of the first half. A defense player for Bintimodia kicked the ball down field and the Kolabui goalie missed the ball, which rolled the rest of the way into the goal, scoring a point for Bintimodia. The first half ended on a high note for our team and I was hopeful for the second half.
During half time my youth group was scheduled to perform their skit after the health center chef gave a brief introduction. However, the chef was nowhere to be found. Kadiatou, our goalie and member of the youth group, ran to the health center to find the chef. Luckily he got back in time to give an intro of our group and HIV before Kadiatou and Dione (a male member of the group) talked about HIV from the perspective of their generation. Because of the initial delay, we were a bit rushed and had to cut the presentation short because Kadiatou had to get back into the game. The second half of the match started off well, until Kolabui scored. The Bintimodia girls were discouraged by the goal and stopped playing well, allowing two more goals to be scored against us. The final score was 3-0 with Kolabui winning, but overall I was extremely proud of my girls and made sure they understood that. Kolabui has been playing together for over a year and my team had been together for only a month…that the game was as close as it was made me very happy.
At the end of the match Dione asked me if he and Kadiatou could do a condom demonstration. The chef of the health center was there to help and provided the model and condoms. All the audience and members of both teams gathered in front of Kadiatou and Dione while they demonstrated proper use and disposal of condoms. At the end they threw condoms out to crowd, who all climbed over each other and jumped into the air to catch them. Overall, the match and presentation were great successes, and I could not have been happier.
|Bintimodia (in white) and Kolabui Girls' teams|
|line up before the game|
|Dione talking about condoms|
|Kadiatou and Dione showing how to use a condom|
|HIV presentation with Kadiatou and Dione|
|Kadiatou witha picture book about condom use|
|crowd watching the condom demonstration|