Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Iva, Month Three, Progress Report


This month has been a healthy one for us, just some minor skin and tooth problems. The baby who has been suffering from scabies and resultant infection has responded to medicines, but seems to be slipping back as to medicines used. It is hard to know when to voice an opinion on children’s health issues and when not.

A lot of the past month has been devoted to getting stuff for our kitchen. We have a propane cook top and refrigerator that we bought in Apia. The Peace Corps staff has been great in trucking it out to our island. Finding cooking utensils and food we commonly use is difficult, especially on Savaii. The search for a colander continues.

There was a required meeting for all Peace Corps volunteers. It was an opportunity for various staff members to make their annual reports, a love fest where staff tells the volunteers how great we are and visa versa. Gifts are exchanged to cement the relationship. New comers are welcomed into the fold.

Here are portions from staff reports:
Country Director- She reported the Samoa met the new accounting guidelines required by the federal government. The staff has been working on this the past year. We are all under a very tight budget of 1.9 million dollars U.S. for the 60 Samoan volunteers. As a result, we have to buy our own toilet paper and trash bags for our Savaii office.

Health Officer- She jubilantly reported that Samoan volunteers had zero pregnancies and STD cases for the past year, the lowest in the Oceanic Region. Kiribati headed the list in both categories. Just why Samoa is so low wasn’t explained. Neither was the reason why we have 10 cases of dengue fever reported so far this year against 4 for the entire year before.

Safety & Security- He reported so many facts and averages, I don’t know whether to feel safe or scared. We need to always need to keep our vigilance and report every crime observed. I don’t know whether he mentioned a terrorist threat or not.

There were other reports, games for five year olds which we played, and bland pizza for lunch. Of course the best presentations were done by the volunteers themselves. Dylan Ryder’s excellent closing video marked the end of the day.

Mary and I, as well as most of the Savaii group, skipped the Thanksgiving meal to be held the next day (Nov 17th) at the US Embassy. The food was paid for a prepared entirely by Peace Corps volunteers, out of our monthly allotment, to feed Peace Corps staff, guests, and US officials. As you can see, everyone is suffering from tight budgets.

And now, for what we actually came here to do:

Village Computer/Telecenter
Our request has yet to be reviewed by the Ministry of Communications. This is a major request and probably will take a while to work itself through channels. In the meantime, village residents think this is a done deal and so we try to lower expectations.

Sewing Machines
New Zealand Aid to whom we submitted the proposal said we should know withn the next two weeks. Our fingers are crossed.

Village Youth/Talent Contest
What started out as an idea to get unemployed village youth (can be up to 50 years old) to participate in an organized event has mushroomed into a village wide talent contest to be held on December 8th. This event has consumed most of our time.

Teaching Computers at Local Schools
Not much has happened at the Mataaevavae High School because of year end tests and the death of the principal’s father. However, we will probably start working with the high school after the end of the school year on November 30th.

In the meantime, a used computer has been delivered to Iva’s primary school. The teachers are really excited to learn how to use it. We start classes on December 2nd.

We have gone from waiting for something to happen to a period of really being busy with these schools and the talent contest.

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