First Week of IST

Six months done and seriously time for IST. According to the PCVs before me, it is the hardest part and now I will be moving back and forth between village and trainings and workshops. From now on, it is work time.

Time for projects. Groups. Team up with community and mobilize.

But first more training.

My inter service training began with boring sessions as usual.

Except for the NGOs that came in to talk to us.

First was the PMI group from USAID who came in with two doctors asking peace corps volunteers to start data reporting about the use of mosquito nets and why people do not use them.
They came with a purpose and we asked questions. They gave information about net distribution times and the reasons why people haven’t been reached. Most of the answers were because of the difficulty of transport and mobility during rainy season.

Then there was UNICEF who came to talk about water sanitation and open defecation.

We also learned about the monitoring and evaluation system that will be a major part of our service. Every quarter our supervisors of every program will require us to fill out a VRF, or a volunteer reporting form. Every activity and every talk to event and training I do in the village has to be reported with names and information for the peace corps. For data allows us to notice trends and if volunteers are effective in their service.

Afterwards we learned about the grants we can apply for for projects that require more money than the community has. We never provide our own money unless we started a donate fund from family back home. Peace Corps grants are divided by work and topic while applications for American Embassy are great and useful but incredibly competitive.

SMAGS are the next project we learned about. We learned about the importance of groups filled with men and women in the community who looks after pregnant women in the village. They have meetings to discuss maternal and pregnant rates and diseases and ways to help the village. They check up the women and help them get transportation to the clinic.

Then a session on income generating activities. As volunteers we can work with certain groups to teach about increasing income. A garden with more variety. Or beekeeping. Or sewing.

Glow and Elite was last and it is the most useful for me. As I want to work mostly with children, these projects will help me reach as many children to empower them and help them.

The best part of training is the visit from the Ambassador to Zambia from US. He was a charming and hilarious man.

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And we got him to eat a CATERPILLAR. Because it is a Zambian delicacy and many volunteers eat them already like fried potato chips. He couldn’t do it for the longest time but luckily in moments, he chewed it and it was gone.

Luckily, he was kind about it and told us about Pizza Hut opening in Zambia and that they are not allowed to open until they have made a certain number of pies. So they are open inside making pie after pie. And he decided to put in a good word and send us 40 personal pizzas for us to eat the next day!!!

They were delicious and taste approved so I say they open soon! But meeting him also opened this world of foreign services and the idea of serving in that international way.

Life can go many ways.

Choices you make and things that seem to go on a straight and even path will never follow your wishes.

People change. People have choice and wishes of their own. What you want does not matter when such people are involved. And there are always people involved.

That’s what life is. Our choices blended with the influences of the environment and the people we choose to surround ourselves with. And in six months, I have changed. Who I will change in next 21 months?

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