Late last Thursday afternoon I, along with other trainees, participated in a short activity to find out the site of our future homes! The days to follow we were able to travel, many of us with our current VEO(village executive officer), to these new places. The beginning of the week was spent meeting members of the community, visiting local schools and clinics, discussing possible project ideas, etc., some volunteers were even able to stay in their new home if the facility had already met the specified Peace Corps criteria and no repairs were needed. Towards the end of the week trainees from all the regions had the opportunity to shadow a volunteer(s) currently serving in their region. This provided a great deal of insight into life for the next 2 years; being able to discuss projects, successes, struggles, and everything in between.
Before I continue I’m guessing it would be beneficial to reveal my site location so without further ado, the region of my new home is…..Shinyanga! The Shinyanga Region is in the Northwest part of Tanzania, major regional boarding Shinyanga are; Arusha, Tobora, and Singida, and not far is Lake Victoria after you pass through a small section of Mwanza. I have been told the weather would be that of a tropical nature staying between 75-85, having a dry/warm season towards the end of the year and a wet/cooler season occurring now until around July.
Enough of the boring stuff let’s get into my actual site visit! Two Saturdays ago I woke up at 4am to have the Peace Corps come and retrieve me from my home and transport myself and other trainees going to the same region to the bus station where we boarded a bus for a quick 13hr trip to Shinyanga….so fun. We got into Shy Town (what Shinyanga Town is commonly referred to as) around 9:30pm and we stayed at a hotel. In the morning the 7 trainees split up with their VEOs and headed to their sites. Although my site is not far from town I did not reach my site until later that evening due to some unforeseen detours. Long story short when I did finally arrive I also encountered some hiccups in my housing and ended up moving into a new home leading to the most perfect housing set-up I could have ever asked for. With this new home I inherited the most wonderful host family; a young husband and wife with one little girl (who happens to have the same birthday as we, wild I know), 2 other men, and one teenage girl. The woman is the primary clinician at the clinic and we live right in the same compound as the clinic so I hope to be doing a lot of my work there with her! While at site I was also able to visit a local primary school where I meet 3 teachers and some of the children who were studying for their national exam (the rest of the students are on a sort of spring break), I met the village sungusungu (guard/security) and I also met the WEO (ward executive officer). All of these people seemed excited that I was there and expressed interesting in working with me when I return, so that made me very excited. If you know me you know that yellow is my favorite color and with that I am excited to say that through a small portion of my new home including the porch there is yellow and white tile! Obviously I was in love right off the bat; include the host family and the fact I get to live at the clinic and all I could think was that I could not have been more excited about my site. After a couple of days at site I met back up with the other trainees and some of the shadow volunteers and we toured around Shinyanga for a couple days, getting to know the area and then headed to Singida Saturday where we made a quick pit stop and met some more volunteers there. Biggest coincidence to date; all the trainees and volunteers from the Northwestern region were hanging out talking causally and someone starts to make a joke about Idaho and another kid starts defending it, someone else then maade the joke “oh ya I forgot you lived there and went to U of I”. Obviously I immediately asked him if that were true and he continued to tell me that he was from Meridian and he had gone to U of I, was in a fraternity, and frequented the on campus Starbucks during the same time that I had been working there. Needless to say we had a lot of stories to share and it was fun taking to someone about some of the concerns I had expressed in my last blog post.
Take away from this last week, first: things happen the way they’re supposed to and sometimes the most amazing things result from those happenings, and second: although I now live on the second largest continent (both in land area and population) we live in a very very small world, and you never know who you’re going to meet and where you will meet them.