Tomorrow I return to my site after two weeks of vacation and a week of mid-service training. While some volunteers are anxious to get back to their villages, I am feeling apprehensive. In the month and a half between when I posted last and when I left for vacation, not much "happened." I finished planting my corn, beans, and rice field. I met with one of the VOIs in an effort to get them to want to work with me. I did two environmental education activities with some kids. Okay, so when I write it down it sounds like enough, like at least I was doing something.
And I was. It just felt like I was doing it on my own without people in the community being interested or willing to work with me, which is what is supposed to happen. And so I get discouraged. What do I expect to happen? I'm not sure. People coming to my house saying things like: "We want to learn about gardening!" or "We want to conserve our hillside soil!" Ha ha. While I know that is silly to expect, I find myself restless, wanting to be doing something already. Not doing something like spending days and days in my field planting alone, but doing something with people.
Maybe it's just restlessness. I read my friend Emily's blog digestingafrica.blogspot.com, about her nomadic life, her life between worlds. It's nice to know I'm not the only one with this wandering syndrome. But heading into my second year here in my small house in the village, I'm thinking of the past and of the future, what I've been doing here and what I might be doing this year, and the next. Where will my feet land? At our Mid-service conference, other volunteers are planning their travels for next year, or talking about extending their Peace Corps service. I have some ideas, but I feel the same old crunch of time. What am I doing? What am I going to do?
I have some ideas for my second year of service here, and I want to get past my discouragement and find the energy in myself to get some momentum going. I'm thinking about seed-saving and grain banks for some of the small communities surrounding me. It's a need that came out in the food security survey that I did, and could be implemented with resources from the community itself. My other thought is putting together a small group of young farmers to learn some farm planning and experimenting skills. Plus, I have my group of kids that are the most eager to spend time with me, and the environmental education lessons that I've been putting together. So all I need is some interested people and some enthusiasm of my own!
We got invited to an amazing potluck at a returned peace corps volunteer's house. Delicious food, and people who had been in the Peace Corps all around the world and are now working here in Madagascar. It was interesting to talk to them, and to see how different my life is as a volunteer in a small village, compared to their lives working for places like Catholic Relief Services and USAID, "real" jobs with salaries, deadlines, big projects. In a way, it makes me glad that I get this life among the people. As real as their jobs may be for the USA, I am living closer to the real Malagasy life. I hope that no matter what I do after this, I find something that keeps me close to the people.
Now I need to leave behind the beaches, coral reefs, and spiney forest of southern Madagascar, and the internet and flushing toilets of Antananarivo, and head back to the village. My rice field, my garden, and all the kids are waiting for me...
PS: I'll try and post some pictures of my vacation someday when the internet isn't so slow! It was so beautiful in the south!!