Monday, December 14, 2009

Manunu Revisited


Manunu is the name of our original training village in June of 2007. This small mountain village of about 100 people is also the site for the most recent group of Peace Corps Trainees. It is to be the site for a third group within the near future. The village has that effect on both volunteers and training staff, as close to magical as you can get. I rented a car and went to see if the magic was still there after an absence of 2 ½ years.

The village definitely looks more prosperous. Maybe the infusion of Peace Corps money on such a small place has something to do with it. A new meeting hall for the village’s solitary church is most conspicuous. New out buildings and remodeled main houses also suggest something happened over the intervening period.

My personalized welcome at the church service and the appearance of some familiar faces was moving. The sermon had numerous references to the Peace Corps and me. The people really wanted to know about Mary. She still comes the closest to a saint. So I gave my best to canonize her to the congregation, explaining why she did not accompany me to Samoa.

The members of our former host family are well and happy to see me. The youngest children who did not remember us at all and the oldest greeted me with enthusiasm. The two teenagers, who do remember me, spoke not a word, never smiling. But 2 ½ hours after 2 ½ years is about the most you can expect before words run out and it is time to leave.

2007,2009: Manunu Village Green, houses surround this circular area.

2007: Former Shower/Toilet

2009: Now a new store, Under Construction

2007: Former Cooking House

2009: Now Rebuilt, Enlarged with Eating Area

2007: Latoa, Family Matriarch

2009: Latoa, 78 years old

2007: Sioka

2009: Sioka, now 14 years old

2007: Oli and Children

2009: Oli and Children

2007: Sherry with Mary

2009: Sherry, now 16 (in back doing dishes)

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