May 19, 2004: Headlines: COS - Saint Lucia: PCVs in the Field - Saint Lucia: Blogs: Personal Web
Peace Corps Online:
Peace Corps Saint Lucia :
The Peace Corps in Saint Lucia:
May 19, 2004: Headlines: COS - Saint Lucia: PCVs in the Field - Saint Lucia: Blogs: Personal Web
Site: Lindsey Wolf's Saint Lucia Peace Corps Site Lindsey Wolf's Saint Lucia Peace Corps Site
Lindsey Wolf's Saint Lucia Peace Corps Site
I am a Peace Corps Volunteer on the island of St. Lucia. I began my service in March 2004. I live in the fishing village of Laborie, which is on the southern coast of the island. I work as a Health volunteer with the National AIDS Program through the Ministry of Health. This site will be dedicated to recording my Peace Corps experience. The Class Weblog will be used to record my World Wise Schools correspondence with a sixth grade class at Red Jacket Education Center in Shortsville, NY.
This is my personal website and does not represent the views or ideas of the Peace Corps or the United States Government. Contact me at lucky[at]luckywolf[dot]net.
·I Start to Teach at Vo-Tech Two things happened in the past week. First I had a very frustrating meeting with the other National AIDS Program volunteers and the effective leader of the support group, Tender Love and Care. It is the consensus that we cannot do much work with the group until the ARVs (HIV drugs) are available, and the date the drugs will supposedly arrive has been pushed back from June to July. (The group leader believes that clients need the incentive of either the drugs or free food to come to the meetings. Since the group has started and stopped meeting several times in thepast, he wants to be prepared to start meetings and sustain the group.) My idea for a leadership and self-esteem building camp for the children of HIV-positive parents got rejected. Too much stigma, the group leader said. The group income generation project is not a priority right now, he said.Drugs are the priority. But I can't do anything about the drugs coming! Furthermore, a lot of organizational tasks need to be completed by the nurse in charge of the Voluntary Counseling and Testing program before we can begin. We also learned that she may be leaving the country in June, coinciding with the (new) projected start date for the program! But we are told "not to worry," that the program will start as planned. It is very frustrating to see tasks that I am easily capable of doing go undone because the person in charge isn't motivated to get things started. Also, because the NAP only has two staff members (the director and the nurse in charge of VCT), my assigned "boss" is the nursing supervisor in my region, who doesn't have any connection with the NAP. So, not unusually for a PCV, no one is directly responsible for me. So I have to go out looking for work on my own, which is what I did.
I am going to be teaching three weeks worth of classes to the highest form (3) at the Vieux Fort Technical School. The school is a new idea in St. Lucia - it is designed to teach technical skills to students who don't pass the common entrance examination to enter a secondary school. I started yesterday, with a class on Sexually Transmitted Infections. I was pretty nervous to teach a room full of 16 and 17 year old boys about STIs, especially since the teacher told me, "maybe they will listen to you because you're a new face." It was a bit of a struggle to get everyone to participate in the lesson, but afterward the teacher told me she thought it went very well. I taught another class this morning and have discovered that I enjoy teaching them. Hopefully they are taking something away from it. You should have seen how wide the first student's eyes got when I asked him toread the STI symptom he had been given (yellow-green or white discharge from the penis or vagina). Just helping them grow up (and recognize gonorrhea)!
Also coming up, I have two talks scheduled with different youth groups - one in Laborie and one in a community outside Vieux Fort. Actually, the one in Laborie was "rained out" yesterday. Lucians don't like to go anywhere in the rain. As the rainy season begins, I am wondering how that affects productivity... Comments (1)
·I Lose My Good Ride and Go to Tie up the Horses So after living in Laborie a little over a month, I am feeling pretty good about the fact that I had met one Laborian with a van (van = pick-up truck in St. Lucia) who would stop and offer me a ride if he saw me waiting for transport. Then last week one of the other PCVs in Laborie tells me a story about how a crazy man ran head on to the preacher at her church (who also drives a transport). She tells me the guy lives up near me, the guy with the horses. Hmm, I think, the guy with horses. That guy who gives me rides did stop by my house yesterday on a horse (true!). "Was it Mahcus?" I ask. It turns out that 1) it was my van-ride, and that 2) his name is Marcus, not Mah-cus, like I've been calling him for the last month. I love it when I speak mostly in my very American accent, except for people's names, which I speak in some weird local accent. I have discovered that I am, in fact, a very visual learner.
Anyway, on with the story. This news was disappointing for two reasons. 1) I have been riding with a crazy man who runs into transports head-on. 2) Even if I wanted to continue riding with the crazy man, his van is all mashed up.
So yesterday I am waiting in Vieux Fort (biggest town in south of island) to get a ride back to Laborie. It is a Sunday, and transport is very infrequent, so I am looking for any ride that I can get. Who should pull up but my friend Marcus, riding in his friend's van. They tell me they are going to Laborie, so I get in the back of the van (don't worry, Mom, crazy-man isn't driving!). When we are almost back in Laborie, they turn the van down a dirt side road. The driver sticks his head out the window and tells me they just have to go tie up Marcus' horses and then they are going to Laborie and do I want to come along? Fine, I say, thinking that I just want the rest of my ride home.
We proceed down the dirt road for about ten minutes or so, until the driver pulls the van over, and another guy who was in the back with me points down the road. "There they are," he says. I see two horses. "Do you want to come see them?" he asks. Sure, fine, see the horses. No problem. The two horses are not tied up, although one has a long rope around its neck. Marcus calls them and then heads into the brushy field. We walk through the brushy field for maybe ten minutes, until we are down by the sea. There are three more horses there, all tied to trees. The men explain that they need to be re-tied. Of course - so they have enough to eat (although this field is very brushy). They lead the three horses up to a different place and tie them to new trees. Ok, I think. Good, we're done. Then Marcus says he has just one more up "this way," he points. So we start to hike again. This time it is much longer and much muddier. We walk for perhaps a half an hour before we come to the last horse. Marcus likes to tie it up here because there is a little squalid pond where it can drink. Apparently only this horse gets to drink from the pond. Once it is tied we canfinally head back. Luckily I am not the only one complaining - Marcus' friend who drove him out here also wants to know why he doesn't keep all the horses closer together. On the way back to the van we pass the two horses we found first. They are still untied. "Don't we have to tie them up?" I ask. No. These horses stay free. "Why don't all the horses stay free?" That would be too many. And these ones may not be free for long if they start to trouble the nearby farmer. Who knew horse-raising was such a science?
Also on the way back I get Marcus' side of the van-mash-up story. Marcus is driving up a hill and the transport is coming down towards him. He can't get out of the way in time. And the transport driver (preacher) has taken his foot off the brakes and put it up on the dashboard instead. Why?Because he doesn't want his legs broken in the impending crash. No one is hurt. Both vehicles are all mashed up. And Marcus is taking him to court. Who to believe - the transport-driving preacher or the horse-raiser? Getting a slight taste of what our St. Lucia country director means when she says "I don't understand why you people continue to hitchhike!" Comments (1)
·Mango Season and Selling Out Well, mango season has arrived in St. Lucia. I know this for a few different reasons. 1) Everyone has been talking about how it is almost mango season for the past month - and do I know what a mango is - and have I ever tasted a mango? 2) I can see the mangos getting ripe on the trees. And the most telling - 3) I have started to see gnawed-upon orange mango pits in the gutters at the side of the road. Yes, mango season has arrived and will last for the next four to five months. Sadly, I am sitting at home and waiting for someone to bring me some mangos asI do not have a tree and am not yet bold enough to go pick off someone else's tree.
Secondly, there are two points of "selling out" on traditional Peace Corps service that I might as well get out of the way and confess right now. First, I bought a cell phone. In fact, almost all of the volunteers have them (the Peace Corps encourages it for Safety & Security reasons). In fact, almost all St. Lucians have them. A little over a year ago a new cell company, Digicel, broke into the market previously monopolized by the English company, Cable & Wireless. They drove the prices down in a huge campaign, convincing most Lucians to buy a phone. Also, the majority of callers use a pre-paid phone card method, so owning the phone is not a commitment. And all calls received on a cell are free! I know, for all you American-minute-counters, it's hard to believe! The result is that many people own cell phones, but do not have land lines. In the remote areas outside Saltibus, my homestay, there were people with pit toilets, outdoor showers, and separate cooking shacks, who also owned cell phones. In any case, it's an interesting example of how the market fuels segmented and isolated development in certain sectors.
On to the second confession. I joined a gym that recently opened near my house. I was surprised to find that gyms even exist in St. Lucia - the whole idea of a gym is so...American. (And being fat or "healthy" is good. Before I left my host family, my host mom told me my "belly was sticking out." And today, one of the nurses I work with told me I was getting so fat that my mother wasn't going to recognize me when I went home! Come now...) But the gyms do exist, although it is a whole new notion of "gym." This gym is in the downstairs part of someone's house. It is pretty small, but has a treadmill, a bike, freeweights, and a couple machines. I made the decision to join after I met a man who got hit by a transport and broke his leg while going for a jog on the road. I tell you, the transport drivers are crazy.
In any case, I am integrating, no? Comments (1)
·The Devil is at Work in St. Lucia (and Tacos) So in the community of Piaye, which is near to where I live in Laborie, there is a bridge named Devil's Bridge over a pretty steep ravine. The story goes like this: The man who was building the bridge was pretty desperate to get it finished so he made a deal with the devil - the devil helps him finish the bridge and then the devil gets his soul when the man crosses across the bridge. So the devil helps him finish the bridge and the bridge looks pretty nice. But then the man starts to have some second thoughts about giving up his soul just like that. So instead ofcrossing the bridge (and giving up his soul to the devil), he sends his dog across the bridge in his place. The devil took the dog's soul, but was not satisfied with only the dog's soul when he was promised a real man's soul. So, although they do use the bridge, the Lucians always express a fear that the devil might take another soul crossing the bridge.
As I am a little unfamiliar with the art of selling one's soul to the devil, I asked one of my new Lucian acquaintences if she believed in the devil making deals with people. She absolutely did! The devil was the cause of all the mischief going on lately. What mischief? I brought myself to ask. Hadn't I heard about the dog with a juggerhead who was drinking the blood of animals? Well, I hadn't heard yet...
The story goes like this: there is a beast on the loose in St. Lucia. It has the body of a dog and the head of a juggerhead (think Clorox bleach bottle). It has been roaming the country-side and killing farm animals and drinking their blood! Apparently several people have witnessed this beast in action and I was told that it has even received local news coverage! Luckily I have not yet encountered this savage dog and I don't have any farm animals to worry about!
On a brighter note, I participated in my first Laborie Taco Night on Friday night. To preface, Mexican food is nonexistent in St. Lucia. But, luckily, the inventive PCVs have mastered a very decent tortilla recipe (as well as a pretty nice salsa with the West Indian hot sauce). So Greg, Lauren (the two other volunteers in Laborie) and I made the tortillas and then invited over Greg and Lauren's (as I don't have any yet) Lucian friends. I think there were three or four first-time-taco-eaters there! Greg, the small business volunteer, is actually trying to convince a local guy to open aburrito stand in Laborie. They did the business plan, but now the guy is getting cold feet. So until the arrival of a burrito stand, Taco Night it is. Comments (1)
Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.
Story Source: Personal Web Site
This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Saint Lucia; PCVs in the Field - Saint Lucia; Blogs