Update from Niamey

Hello everyone!

Currently I’m at the Peace Corps/Niger Headquarters in the capital, Niamey, and I have an American computer so I can write something a little more coherent. This weekend has been amazing. We are on a “demystification” trip, where we go to visit an actual volunteer in the field to see how they live and what kind of work they do. Of the trainees in my stage, or training class, we are pretty much split up into two groups – Community Youth Education (CYE) and Municipal Community Development (MCD). From there, most people are learning Hausa language and the rest (nine, including me) are learning Zarma. The MCD people who are learning Zarma are in Barchawal, the small village I talked about in my other post. Everyone else is in Hamdallaye, which is within walking distance to the training site. Barchawal is 6 miles from the training site, so we bike the distance twice a week at about 6:00am to get breakfast and shower before classes begin at 8:00am. The six of us in Barchawal call ourselves Whites on Bikes.

There is no running water (anywhere) though the training site does have electricity. We take a shower by filling a bucket with water and then using a tea kettle to pour it over ourselves. This is actually really effective and makes me think about how much water we waste in the US on a shower – I can take a perfectly good shower and be clean with less than one bucket of water and I’m sure I use 10x that much in the US.

Classes run all day. We have technical sessions about Nigerian government, community assessment, and non-formal education, etc. Also, there are health sessions about how to filter water and what not to eat. And we do language training in our villages on the days we’re not at the site, those classes are literally all day and pretty draining. Zarma is a relatively easy language to learn but I’m having a hard time and trying my best.

Most people have gotten sick, I think, but they were well taken care of and got better quickly. So far I have been fine with the exception of a ridiculous amount of bug bites and pretty bad run of dehydration from heat exhaustion last week, and there’s also the aforementioned incident with the malaria medication but that was totally my fault (I had forgotten to take the pill after dinner so I thought I could just have it in the morning before breakfast, really bad idea).

I do like the people I’m with here, they are really cool and we’ve already become close. There are 33 of us total and we are all together on the training site days, so it’s nice to see everyone. One of the other trainees is actually an Alpha Xi Delta from Oregon State! Her name is Annette, she’s really cool. I thought it was pretty amazing, I WOULD find another AXD on the other side of the world, right?

I also love to go to the site because we get good lunches like stir fry and they even made us sweet potato fries the other day. Also we eat a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but the peanut butter here is weird so I just have jelly and butter. The food I miss most, and everyone makes fun of me for this, is a turkey sub from Publix with lettuce and tomato.

Something weird that has happened since being here is that I am completely off coffee, which if you know me, that’s really, really bizarre. I haven’t really touched it since I got here and I don’t even miss it. I share my packets of instant with everyone else though, and we trade for emergen-c and stuff like that.

I have to go now because we’re off to the restaurant to get hamburgers. I’ll update more later if I can, if not, I will next time I’m here, I think next weekend.

🙂 Jess AKA Layla


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Reba
    Jul 27, 2010 @ 21:31:24

    Hey Jess or should I say Layla. I am so proud of you. I agree that we waste a lot of water in the US on showers. My BFF always asked me to shut of the water while I soaped up. She is very environmentally conscience. Mike said if you take Vitamin B1 or garlic capsules it helps deter bugs from biting. He must like you or something, looking stuff up to help you. Glad you sound well. 6 miles on a bike will have you ready to become an Olympic athlete when you come home 😀 jk. Miss you girl. Hope we see you in December.


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