Peace Corps

April 18, 2008

Peace Corps…the hardest job you’ll ever love!

April 18, 2008

I would like to go on like my previous blog in testament of faith and happiness. But I am feeling more far away from where I am needed. My biggest desire at the moment, besides wanting to be home, is to lay quietly under my mosquito net, ignoring knocks on my door and escaping every social event-even though I am the one throwing a party tomorrow. For Franck, mon fils. I’ve pushed myself to the market to buy everything I need to have a culturally appropriate birthday party for his 14th birthday. I can only now hope that I leave Franck with memories that influence the rest of his life- that he will strive for the best in life, because I gave him confidence, a little English, food and my care for his well being. I was told today that I have become a good mom-I no longer even feel terrified of the responsibility that he comes with, and I am comfortable with telling him “no” and I am alright with not snapping at him when I am in a mood. I can kick him out to play outside when I feel the need for alone time. I guess I’m not quite a mother yet, but it feels that way sometimes.

What sent me to the comfort and hiding of the mosquito net. Sunday, I went to the cyber café to receive the news that, firstly, my sister’s husband came home one day and told her that he didn’t love her anymore, that he just wanted to be alone. It made the world feel so small, how could something like this happen? And I’m so far away, unable to give her emotional support that she needs right now. I became teary eyed and emotional. I wondered what other messages I would receive to get my mind off of this event. Then, I was disappointed to be written that after all the work I had put into what would have been my most fulfilling and important project as a Peace Corps Volunteer, that there was no way that the project would follow through. I was devastated. In the same moment I learned that my mom might have stomach cancer. I wanted to be home. I tried to write my sister, but the virus closed up my internet windows and all I wanted to do was get out of there. I walked up to my postmate, Tim, with tears in my eyes and asked him if we could skip the market- that I would just cry…and I hate to cry in Africa. People don’t know how to respond. Even when I tell people that my mom may have cancer, they ask if it’s already getting better. No, it’s not getting better. Stop telling me that it will get better. 

I have been a bit rare in the community since then. I was sent into a slump that is hard to get out of. I have decided that integrating is no longer a huge priority for me. I have done that, I know the culture now; I have made a few friends that I am happy to have. I am not going to seek out more.

And what I planned would be a small gathering of people I have a feeling will be a large party tomorrow. The greens and fish is in the freezer, the tomatoes in the kitchen, I made three cakes and frosting today, and there is an invite list prepared for the bouncers that I understand will be here from Franck’s class! Everyone will want to come by the white girls house to see what it’s like. I know that it sounds conceited but this is a reality of my worries! Over all, though, I think that the full house will be enlightening and entertaining.

From under the mosquito net, I asked Tim to help me do a project that is easy and do-able. We had our first meeting to talk about the Piggy Bank project. It is an attempt to teach children the importance of savings, and to give them piggy banks to practice the principle. We would like for this to become a province-wide project, but the trial run before the tour will be held in Bare. Hopefully we can get this up and running, so that I can stop feeling so useless. You become cynical here. In between asking yourself what you can do for others, there are many people that do ask you to help them- through marriage, through money, through taking a photograph so that they can walk away with the prestige of having known a white person….and this makes me sick with fury every time. A man came to me yesterday and asked me if I could help him. I asked him if I knew him? He said no, but that he was wondering if I could help him with his problem. Then he says that he has a problem with his heart. N’est-ce pas?! I told him that I was sorry, I don’t have any money, and then slammed the door in his face. I know I am not the same person I was in the states now. Life is too short for this. It’s time to cut out as much as possible the things that make me unhappy, and to add to it more of the things that impassion me.

Like singing. Dancing. 30 minutes a day is all you need, so Chad the PC Medical officer tells me, to stay in shape. Like less teaching, and when school is out in a few weeks, I can explore other projects that can influence how I want my schedule to be next year. Like women empowerment workshops and working with the BoGo organization. Like writing… it’s funny that we all want to do different things, but we somehow just assume that they will get done. You just end up doing what you really want to happen. I wasn’t thinking about all this when I applied for the Peace Corps, so apparently this is really important to me. And I knew when I wrote my mission statement that this experience would change me for the better, unknowing how- and I still believe that, but I’m living the how and it’s a crazy world here sometimes. It’s a world of growing up, of figuring out that it just keeps getting more and more complicated, that absolutely nothing goes as you planned it, forcing you to do your best and to have faith that everything should just turn out alright. I have to have that faith or else I just might be on a plane home right now.

About Tara

Tara received her degree in French and Communications before jetting off to serve Cameroon for 2 years with the Peace Corps. She has forever since been inspired to serve in humanitarian projects around the world. She's a writer, tour guide, business owner, property manager, wifey, dog mom, and traveler. Tara lives in Dallas, Texas, where she's happily married to the tech genius who keeps her website pretty.