"We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open." - Jawaharlal Nehru

Sunday, December 11, 2011


The Bati Njol health school is in its final stages of planning, and should kick off in approximately 2-weeks!  If you remember back to a few blog-entries, I was throwing out ideas for the health school.  Now, after a few village meetings and a little planning with my counterpart, it has become a reality.  The school will open in January and will continue until the end of June – 6 months, 5-essential topics, 12-total classes, 42-women.  The thing I am stoked most about is the age-range of women who enrolled; every compound (household) has one representative, ranging from age 18-58.  

Age Range!
The planning started a few months ago, and the women have been very patient with me, but anxiously asking, “When does school start?” THEY ARE EXCITED ABOUT LEARNING!  And that is what makes me smile from ear to ear; the women are keeping ME in check.  I have not had to beg for the women to come to the planning meetings, they want to come!

community analysis
"what do we already know, what do we want to learn"
My co-workers and I were planning to cover the health clinic in Bati Njol (my village) with murals of the different topics this month, but due to administration, we will have to push them back a few months.  The topics include:
  1.  Personal hygiene, basic first-aid, preventing illnesses 
  2. Nutrition 
  3. Environmental Sanitation 
  4. Reproductive & Child Health (2-months long)
  5. Malaria
Each month, we will take one of these topics and fully cover it, take questions, do demonstrations, give out homework and test the women.  This is their time to ask anything they’ve been curious about and haven’t had the access to answers.  My counterpart, the community health nurse & my friend, Demba Secka, will be teaching all the lessons.  My role is behind the scenes, helping to plan the lessons to make them effective & interactive, finances, and making sure everything flows smoothly.
meeting with the women to discuss topics!

This project will define my Peace Corps experience.  It’s what I thought I would be doing in West Africa; I am grateful and in awe of the way things have played out.  I have the support of my co-workers, friends & family back home, Peace Corps administration, my village and counterpart. 

Of course there will be hiccups in the process – cancelled classes due to naming ceremonies and weddings, rainy days, etc. but that is where the excitement lies.  If this whole thing went as smoothly as planned, to be honest, I’d be a little freaked out.  Recently I’ve had everything tossed up in the air, and yes it has been challenging mentally and physically, but it’s been a change of pace and has reminded me to slow down.

The opening ceremony will be at the end of this month, after Christmas (not that it is celebrated here), before the new year.  The women decided they wanted to have a small village program, cook benechin (local Wolof dish), drink attaya (Chinese green tea), laugh and celebrate the beginning of a beautiful opportunity to learn and grow together.  Classes begin the first week in January, Inshallah (God-willing).  I will make sure to post another blog letting you all know how the first month went!  I will also be blogging about Geoff’s visit; he is coming February 3rd.  We will spend 2-days on the beach in a tree-house, 2-weeks in village, a week-and-a-half hiking in Guinea’s “grand canyon”, and one full month in each other’s arms, under the stars.  I am again… grateful of such adventure, love, and compassion in the one that I love. 

Chat with you all soon soon.

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