November 20, Friday
I went on a walk with three other trainees this evening. It felt so nice to get out of the training center. A breath of fresh air. An open sky, brown earth stretching so far. The enormous ball of sun sinking into the horizon. It was so beautiful. I really do want to make my life here for two years.
We were all talking about Peace Corps on our walk and whether or not it was useful or did any good, and I really came down to “It is what it is.” Is there a better “helping” organization out there? A worse one? Probably. It comes down to such an individual experience. What am I hoping for? A chance to learn about and practice agroforestry, trees, grafting, animals, water catchment strategies, food security in a difficult arid landscape. That is what I hope for.
November 25 Wednesday
What a day. The country director came to tell us that we will not be continuing training here and most of us will be sent to Madagascar. She felt that with the security situation not improving, while she could keep the program open with the volunteers that are already here, she didn't feel comfortable sending out new volunteers without experience in Niger right now. So we will all be leaving within the next 2 weeks.
It was such a sudden and unexpected announcement. I immediately felt so sad to be leaving Niger. Somehow, I ended up loving it here, the landscape, the people, the potential for all these dryland agroforestry projects...my 40 trees planted...
On my walk this evening, Julie (another volunteer) and I sat and listened to the call to prayer. I thought about how the call to prayer is a moment to be grateful and remember how good life is. Watching dusk come over an orange-brick village with the sound of pounding millet, goats bleating, the sun falling into the next day, I will miss this piece of Africa.
I am trying to keep an open mind and heart to what will come next, trying to be grateful for what I have been given here, taking this time to say goodbye to Niger. I don't want to think too much about beginning a new training in Madagascar, that is too much to absorb right now. I just want to sit and look at the patterns the gardeners raked into the dirt around my mosquito net. I want to sleep with the stars above my head and the sound of the crickets.
One good thing is that I did get so excited about being here. That gives me hope that I a bit closer to “finding”(?), “figuring out”(?) what I want to do, that I'm moving in the right direction. If Madagascar is that direction too, that's good. Patience. I do need patience. Sai hankuri...