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David W. Brummel's Adventures in Kiribati
David W. Brummel's Adventures in Kiribati
David and 24 others globetrotters gathered in Tacoma, Washington, and joined the Peace Corps Volunteers (PCV).
PCV Group K-25 departed for the Central Pacific nation called Kiribati [Kiri-bass]; previously knows as the Gilbert Islands.
Kiribati is a group of 33 low-lying atolls that extend 4 degrees north to 4 degrees south of the equator and stretch across the International Date Line.
After island hopping between Hawaii and Fiji, the PCV landed in the capital - Tawara, Kiribati.
Three-month of training started by sailing 19 hours under the Southern Cross Constellation to the island of Abemama. The island is located 150 kilometers south/south-east of Tawara. During this training period, David and several other PCV [I-Matangs - white people] had the opportunity to fly to Marakei for two weeks of training with the local PCVs. (It's a tough life, but someone has to do it?)
Happy Birthday David
While on Marakei, David has been snorkeling on the reef. The coral ranges from 5 feet deep to over 30 feet. David talks about of hundreds of fish and is unable to describe the colors of the reef fish. While swimming in the morning surf, David described several dolphins were playing the waves.
Left Marakei and flew back to Tarawa in a small plane as the co-pilot.
Happy Thanksgiving - 1998
Peace Corp provided a pot-luck Thanksgiving Dinner (Tuna anyone?)
Merry Christmas - 1998
David is dreaming of a 'White Christmas'.
Santa stopped by the islands and left a Dive Mask and Snorkel.
At the holiday Botaki [Kiribati Party], David's Host Father demonstrates why he is the best local dancer in all of Kiribati. David does one of the local [mwaie] native dances in the island's Maneaba [meeting hall]. After dinner the I-Kiribati had a singing competition. The village worked hard to made Xmas very special for the PCV.
[01/01/99] Happy New Year - 1999
PCV Group K-25 attends their "Swearing in Ceremony" on the island of Tarawa, Kiribati. "Hip-Hip-Hooray" - no more training?! After the ceremony we had a dinner party with grilled hamburgers (good).
David starts his permanent (2 year) assignment on the island of Nonouti located 100 kilometers south/south-east of Abemama.
David arrives in Nonouti and is stationed with PCV Tonya Jandacek from Los Alamos, New Mexico and Susan Martin from Xenia, Ohio.
David has a problem - he is homeless. The Island Council office hasn't started the construction of his new house. He must tough-it-out by staying in the local guesthouse. It has glass window, running water with a shower and toilet. The room has a real bed and two dressers and solar electricity. Maribu, the guesthouse caretaker, will cook all his meals, wash his clothes and clean his room. The Island Council office will pay for everything.
6,500 miles away from home in the Southern Hemisphere - Who won the Super Bowl??
Good News - they started building David?s new house?
David started working with the twelve Village Welfare Groups [VWG] on the island. David's main goal is to teach each VWG how to teach Community Health Education. Each VWG has asked for money to build latrines, so he is teaching them how to get money by writing grants for Foreign Aid.
David took a boat trip to Abamakoro, a small islet a few miles north of Nonouti. On the way, David had a few strips of beef jerky, but later on was told he was eating "Sea Worm". From Abamakoro, they went up to Numatong islet better known as 'Bird Island'. He said you could walk along the ground and pick up tons of baby birds and eggs. Harvesting eggs is illegal! David said the island reminded him of Alfred Hitchcock's movie the "Birds"
Good News - David found a storeowner who sells beer that is cold to a few people and he added David's name to the list. Only for special occasion's?!
David discovered two British Volunteers [VSO] named Andrew and Louise who live in Rotima, just north of the airstrip. David invited them both over for dinner. David mentioned he has a new puppy called Elway. David finally found out won the Super Bowl. [Twenty-two days after the game]
Jen, the PCV K24 [from Arizona] returned from vacation from Australia. Jen is the 1st Health Volunteer assigned to Nonouti. She has introduced David to lots of people all over the islands. David discovered two Japanese men fixing the old icehouse that hasn't worked for years. The men were staying with David at the guesthouse and invited him to share their Sushi and rice dinner.
David learned how to use a big fishing net and how to collect the shellfish from the lagoon. He said the taste just like smoked oysters after you boil them. Jen found a recipe for making home made ice cream as long as the icehouse keeps working? Ice is 50 cents a bucket?!
News - they still building David's new house?
Jen and David are teaching a Physical Education class at George Eastman HS where Andrew and Louise work. The kids at the school are great even though they are really shy. Tonya, Susan, Jen and David spent Saturday at the school's botaki. They had a singing and dancing competition during the day and a huge feast that night.
News - they still building David's new house? and Elway is getting bigger.
Jen and David have co-planned a health sessions with four nurses from Nonouti. Their next project is the Kiribati National Health Day in April.
News - they still building David's new house? and Elway is getting bigger.
David received a Furby and the children had a ball playing with the furry creature. It might set the Kiribati culture back 100 years. David bought a 1952 green "beach cruiser" style bike for $50. The men from Japan made some adjustments to the bike and welded on a five-inch extension to the seat. David has the tallest bike seat in Kiribati.
Jen, Andrew and David along with several teachers from George Eastman took a trip back to "Bird Island". Think of playing on the warm beaches and swimming in the beautiful seas of the South Pacific.
News - they still building David's new house?
David's girlfriend from Minnesota arrived on Tarawa for a six week vacation. David is having a ball showing Tarawa to Lisa. They will be flying down to Nonouti in a few days
David and Lisa are on Nonouti - not much news from the islands at this time??
Good News - David's new house is finished?
David built a table and shelves for his house. Next David will start building a garden.
The project of the month is to get funding and increase interest across the island in building water sealed latrines. Andrew ask Jen and David to teach an English class up at George Eastman High School
David has make friends with Nonouti's two police officers. Tauboki and Tebetarga both speak excellent English and they love to joke around. David has also made friends with Tiapo, who takes David fishing each weekend. Tiapo also takes the volunteers sailing over to Bird Island.
Happy 4th of July! [USA Independence Day] Jen, Tonya, Louise and David grilled fish-burgers, made homemade buns, and baked beans, fruit salad and a garden salad. Of course we had a few Victoria Bitter's [beer].
Saturday the Island Council workers had a botaki. Everyone received a gift. Jen and David got twenty salted eels and twenty salted bonefish and twelve bottles of Toddy Syrup.
Happy 12th of July! [Kiribati Independence Day] Every one on Nonouti moved to David's village of Matong for the week. All week long three were dancing and singing botakis. On Independence Day, there was a parade of students and police who marched to the soccer field.
Matt, from Tabiteuea, John and Barb arrived on Nonouti for the Volunteer Advisory committee. Matt and John stayed at David's place. Barb and Susan stayed at Tonya's place.
Matt helped David finish his garden. They dug a large trench to clear out all the sandy soil and then filled the trench with good soil, rotten leaves, rotten logs, rusted tins and any other compost materials. The fence is made from palm fronds. Finally, they put coconut logs around the garden to make a boarder to keep Elway out of the garden.
Andrew received a package of thirty ?compasses and protractors? for his Math class at George Eastman.
Friday, Andrew, Louise, Tonya, Matt, Jen and David went back to Bird Island for a camping trip. Andrew hired the school boat and a driver so they could spend the night on the island. They roasted Tuna for dinner and told stories around the campfire. The next morning a rain shower woke everyone up and the got a grate view of the morning sunrise.
At church services, George Eastman HS officially thanked Wayne Brummel for the gift of ?compasses and protractors?. David was even thanked by the schools Vice Principal.
Youth Week ? All the youth on Nonouti come to Matong for a week of Botakis, dances, soccer, volleyball, wrestling and movies.
David started weight lifting with some of the fellows in Matong. David has also been training one of the fellows who wants to participate in the South Pacific games.
PCV Conference in Tarawa. David finished his grant proposal for latrines for Nonouti.
David returned to Nonouti and found his friend Maribo had been watering the garden, racked and cleaned David?s yard and installed rock boarders around the trees. Maribo even had time to give Elway a bath. Of course, several hours later, Elway found a mud puddle to roll in?.
Sunday night, Jen and David cooked dinner for Maribo and her family and presented gifts from Tarawa.
Jen and David started teaching First Aid and Physical Fitness at Tonya?s Junior Secondary School. Since playing Frisbee with the kids, they have started asking us about sex, smoking, drinking another health-related stuff.
Twelve more days to Hawaii?
Five of the K26 volunteers are spending ten days of their training on Nonouti in November.
Jen and David are also teaching lessons about the dangers of smoking. Just like in America, everyone knows smoking is bad, but the Kiribati language doesn?t describe cancer or heart disease very will. Started making ?before? and ?after? posters about smoking
Discovered the grant proposal for building latrines on Nonouti was approved. Will receive $1,000 worth of cement to start that project.
[10/16/99 ? 10/29/99]
Family vacation in Hawaii: One week on the Big Island of Hawaii and one week on the island of Ohau.
Happy Birthday David. Tonya, Jen and her boyfriend had a Birthday Party for David.
Home sweet Nonouti?!
Nothing has changed?? All the I-Kiribati people were excited to see David come home when he passed out the Hawaiian chocolates and the other gifts he brought back from Hawaii.
The Nonouti Island Council hired another person. Ameri spent the last few years living in Tarawa and worked for the radio station. Ameri is a perfect translator and he isn?t afraid to speak English.
David indicated it?s a little hotter on Nonouti than he remembered, or maybe he just got used to the Air Conditioning in Hawaii??
Five K26 volunteers are on Nonouti. Eric and Beth are staying with David. Dawn, Jess and Mary are staying with Tonya. Mary is the new K26 Health Volunteer who will be replacing Jen when she leaves Nonouti.
The new volunteers have heard about the good cooking on Nonouti. David said Jen and Tonya are the reason for this rumor ? the ladies are just good cooks.
Jen, Tonys and David took a boat trip out to bird islet of Numatong. The K26 crowd was very impressed. David said the beaches of Numatong could pass for any of the best beaches in Hawaii - not as crowded?!
Jen left Nonouti for good yesterday.
David said he now understands what it will be like never to see his Kiribati friends again.
Tonya, Susan and Andrew are leaving for their vacations in December. David will be the only I-matong left on Nonouti to the end of the year.
Happy Thanksgiving - 1999
David brought the ham, which was glazed with honey and baked. Susan bought the chicken, which was stuffed and baked like a turkey. Tony brought the mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberries, olives, gravy and a pie filling in Tarawa. David went up to George Eastman HS and picked up Andrew. All the volunteers maintained the Thanksgiving tradition with flying colors.
David?s friend Botiu, took Tonya and David crab hunting. When the mangrove tree fields are flooded, the roots of the trees are in two feet of water you crawl through the trees with only your head above water. If the crabs see or hear you they drop back down into the water. The trick is to sneak up on a crab, pin it to a branch, rip off it?s pinchers before it pinches you and throw it all into a bag. For the record, Botiu caught most of the crabs that night.
David is officially the only I-matong left on Nonouti ? everyone else is on vacation. David?s job is to hold down the fort and feed the dogs.
During this time, David had a friend who?s father passed away. The father was a widely respected man on the island so many people came to the funeral botaki. It was a very sad event.
Peace Corp is unable to find the grant proposal for building latrines on Nonouti...?
Taubuki (Nonouti Policeman) is being transferred to Tarawa and Temeriti is being transferred to the Christmas Island. They have been really great friends of David?s over the past year and he?s sad to see them go.
David?s house was broken into and a bottle of Xmas spirits was taken. The people of the village were disturbed about the break-in. The next day, one of the villagers came over and fixed the hole in David?s house. David said it was funny the way things worked out ? he made another new friend.
David indicated he understands why retired PCV talk about enjoying their second year the best. It takes a long time to get comfortable with a new culture and finally being accepted by the local people.
[01/01/00] Happy New Year - 2000
David has a new island-mate, Mary Noggel from Arkansas (PCV K26). Their first project is the 2000 island census.
Still waiting for the toilet cement ? should arrive any day? A number of the islanders are waiting.
David is planning a trip to New Zealand some time this coming May.
David said it actually rained on Nonouti.
The PCV?s are still waiting for mail. David wondered if there was a Y2K problem with the Fiji to Tarawa flights. At this time, the island is out of rice, sugar and beer. There has been a problem with the cargo ships since the end of December. David said not to worry, nobody will starve without rice. There are plenty of fish in the sea.
David and Mary had a meeting with the island wide Village Welfare Group (VWG). The VWG are learning about: aids, nutrition, water sanitation, hygiene, gardening, cooking, exercise, reproduction, immunization and respiratory infections. The next step is for the VWG to teach their peers about what they have learned.
David and Taeribwa (Kiribati counterpart) talked to an another VWG and discovered they want to develop a Women?s Community Center. They want a place where the women can sew clothes, make handicrafts and hold meetings. They asked David and Taeribwa to write a grant proposal to the New Zealand High Commission office for money. The Island Clerk agreed to let the VWG use an abandoned council building for their center until they raise the funds for a new one.
Andrew should be back in Nonouti soon.
David?s garden is coming along nicely. He started cabbage, tomato and cucumber plants.
No flights = no mail.
Air Kiribati will not fly to Nonouti because the runway is too bumpy. David said he would gather all the volunteers to fix the runway ? it?s only bumpy in one section. Maybe the mail will come by sea??
Big news from Tarawa. An Air Naru jet, that provides the only international flights into Tarawa, was taxiing to it?s take off position, when a truck ran into the plane and dented the front end all up. He hopes the plane is fixed before his New Zealand trip.
Andrew (VSO) is still stuck in Tarawa. All flights to Nonouti are cancelled ? fix the runway?
David and Mary are keeping busy doing community inspections. So far they have visited every house on the south end of Nonouti.
Good News ? Andrew survived an epic seven-day ship ride from Tarawa to Nonouti and brought a few letters for the PCV and VSO?s.
Still waiting for toilet cement. David called PC Tarawa and they said the cement will be on the next boat. The Island Council had a few extra bags of cement, so David and Mary started forming the ?bowl? part of the toilet. So far, they have seven bowls finished.
The Te Itibeverere Drams group is coming to Nonouti. They are a group of Kiribati actors from Tarawa who perform plays on health related topics. Rachel, the director of the VSO, asked the medical staff on the island to organize a Q/A session after each play. It?s a great opportunity to present a lot of health material in a fun and entertaining way.
David started studying for the GRE Grad School test.
Still no rice or flour on the island. A supply boat from Australia was supposed to arrive in Tarawa this week, but it?s late because of a ?dock strike? in Australia.
Nonouti is out of diesel fuel, so the icehouse isn?t working. Without ice, there is no fish market.
Andrew received a call that a new VSO is coming to Nonouti ? her name is Amy. If the planes are flying, she could be in Nonouti this week.
David said it?s slowly starting to rain more and more on Nonouti.
Tonya, Susan, Mary and David are learning new mwaie (dances) for the Easter botaki.
David started teaching science at the JSS. Teaching the general anatomy of a tooth and tooth decay.
Good News ? Supplies have arrived on Nonouti. The ship brought, flower, sugar, rice and Castleman XXXX beer.
Still waiting for mail??
De-Plane ? De-Plane - THE PLANE CAME!!! David said they got so much mail that it was like X-mas all over again.
David currently is teaching about microprobes and germs, but the kids can?t see them. David is working on getting a microscope for the class.
Another I-matong arrived. Her name is Amy and she is a VSO working at Andrew?s school.
It?s spring in Nonouti??? David said it rained all last week and actually it cooled down a bit ? temp maybe dipped down to the low seventies.
David visited twenty-eight houses in Rotimwa, and counted twelve wells, one garden and no toilets. Mary and the nurse are counting the southern side of the village. Only three more villages to go?
Tonya taught the students that everyone in America calls David, ?Brummel? and the students didn?t understand why. Now all the kids are saying ?What?s up Brummel? or ?See you later Brummel?. David indicated the kids are just great. Too bad American students don?t find school this much fun.
David can?t believe there are six I-matangs on Nonouti. Tonya, Susan, Mary, Andrew and Amy the newest VSO.
Saturday night, David had the Island Clerk and Treasurer (Takoia & Tebuki) over for a few beers. It?s good to social with the boss.
The grant proposal for the Women?s Center on Nonouti was approved by the New Zealand High Commission. The money will buy fabric and sewing machines. Tonya has arranged a plan with the Women?s Group to send some local crafts back to New Mexico for sale.
The toilet grant is still at a stand still. The PC believes the cement is on one of the inter-island ships.
Takoia, the Island Clerk, had a huge botaki. His son announced his engagement to one of the JSS teachers. Tonya, Mary and David were invited as formal guests. The bride to be was escorted from her house. She was all dressed up in a new dress a flowers in her hair. They sat and had coffee and before breakfast, the bride to be was given a new dress to change into. This same process was repeated for lunch and dinner. The people on the buia were given all of the best food, but there was plenty to go around.
David helped butcher the pig and prepared a pit over just like the one in Hawaii. Talk about good food.
After dinner was the big surprise ? Tonya, Mary and David nearly cried when they brought out a huge tray of watermelon. ?Do you realize how good watermelon tasted???
Later in the week, David had Andrew and Amy (VSO) over for spaghetti dinner and salad with Ranch dressing. Mary made fudge for the dessert.
Amy is helping David with his Science class and has providing several resource books for the health class.