Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Mar. 17, 2004



This was a big week or so in the course of training. We
found out this past week where our permanent site is in
Guyana for the next 2 years. Unlike other people who were
freaking out about placement, I pretty much just said that
I can handle just about anywhere or anything they put me
in. Toilet inside or not, electricity, running water or
not. Maybe it was a ploy to save myself from being
disappointed, but really the whole peace corps process
requires flexibility. So, to make a long story short, I am
placed in Linden. It is a community down the Demarara River
almost 2 hours from
Georgetown. The main industry here is
the bauxite mines and the rivering communities. It is
actually a large population that includes many of the small
villages and river communities surrounding Linden. It has a
beautiful large market on the river where you can get just
about any fruit or vegetable imaginable. I have already
indulged in making pinneaple/guava juice, cooked eggplant
(they call it boulanger...pronounced BOO-lan-GEE), pumpkin
and okra dishes and many more. You can become really
creative with all the access to things that you don't
normal have or have ever heard of or seen. Meat is
available, yes, but with some of the practices I have seen
thus far that I am really not at liberty to discuss in
detail for many reason including saving your stomachs, you
basically become vegetarian. But, with all the various
beans and even soy chunks you can get, protein is not a
huge thing to attain. My primary roles here will be varied.
I will be working in the Vivienne Parris health clinic
where each day is focused on a different group. For
instance, infant clinic on mon., antenatal (pregnant
mothers) on tues., hypertension and diabetic on wed., etc.
They have allowed me to get quite involved already with
assessments, consultations, and observation. I have already
seen crazy skin diseases, children with extra fingers,
heard an expectant mother being told she is
HIV+, and seen
diabetic ulcers that were unbelievably big and advanced.
The problem is that all of these issues are big and yet
they hardly have any medications and no real technology to
deal with any of it. You want to do so much, yet you are
limited so much by what is available. Heck, there are
hardly even rubber gloves, much less any ultrasound
machine. In addition, I will be doing health talks,
starting activity groups, and working in the schools with
check-ups. I was told that I may also be needed to teach a
life skills or PE class in the schools. The other thing
that I am so excited about is that my counterpart
(essentially my work manager) is the chief of an Arowak
AmerIndian tribe down the river in Malali and I will be
able to assist her in this village and 2 others in the
interior rivering indigenous communities 3 days a month.
She is a Medix, which is essentially a nurse practitioner,
and is really the highest level of 'doctor' that anyone has
access to. I am going with her tomorrow and I'm sure it
will be the beginning of some unbelievable grassroots
medicinal opportunities. I am placed down here in Linden,
but am only on a week long visit as of now to observe and
take in the community I will soon be a part of. I go back
for 2 more weeks of training in
Georgetown and then will be
back permanently by April 3rd or 4th. I walk down the
street where I am a strange looking, sounding, and acting
foreinger, and can sometimes hardly believe I am here. You
have children and even adults that stare at you not
believing how white you are and how light your hair is as
they have never seen someone like you before. Yet, this
will be my home and everyday I try to make it as such. It
is certainly a process and one where the stigma of being a
white american female that I may never overcome. You have
to always hold true to who you are, what you stand for and
what you know you are capable of on the hard days with a
smile on your face. Hey, as my dad once told me 'If you see
someone without a smile, give them one of yours'...good
advice indeed!
goodbye for now from linden,
kristen