This week has been very exciting, because all of the trainees went to visit their respective towns and villages where we’ll be serving for the next 2 years. Before we made our journeys across the country, we had a supervisor’s workshop. All of the principals at the schools we’ll be teaching at came to the training center. We had a bunch of sessions about the Peace Corps and our roles in the communities.
I traveled by poda poda to Madina with the principal of my JSS school. We had a paved road most of the way, but the last 25 miles was a rough, dirt road. I got to see the house I’ll be living – it’s really nice! It’s blue on the outside with pretty white flowers by the front porch. There are 3 bedrooms, a living room, a private courtyard, an indoor latrine, and a kitchen area. Perfect for me and my new little puppy (it was just born 3 weeks ago and will be ready to leave it’s mama by the time I leave for Madina)!
The principal of my SSS school was proctoring exams in the regional capital, but I did get to meet his family. His wife cooked for me while I was there on visit and boy, was it fine chop! The first night there I got to experience my first African soap opera (the principal’s family has a generator). The show was kind of like Young and the Restless and General Hospital… but just Africanized with kings, princes, and witches. In the show, the prince was going away to America for medical school. I found his one quote to be very ironic, “I’m leaving for America soon. You have no idea how hard it will be. I’ll be leaving everything I am familiar with. I’m leaving the hospitality of everyone I know. I’ll have to eat strange food.” Alright bucco, cheeseburgers and French fries aren’t that strange, so I don’t want to hear it!!
I walked around with the JSS principal and saw most of the town. Everyone kept yelling “welcome” and everyone seemed pretty eager to meet the new “Peace Corps.” The children didn’t yell “apoto” as I walked by them, but “fada.” There are catholic missionaries in the area and I guess they associate all white people with them. Yes, I am not only a man now, but a Catholic priest. How interesting Africa can be sometimes!
I met the head honcho himself – the paramount chief of the whole Thonko Limba chiefdom. He was really nice and told me how he had been to Philly before when he worked for and traveled around with the president (woohoo PA pride!). I also got a nice tour of my school. It’s pretty large with several classrooms, a hall (which is not functioning due to a leaky roof), and boarding rooms that some students live in during the school year. They have a building for the library, but the rebels stole all of the books during the war so now there are just boxes of some donations sitting in a room. They also had a nice house very close to the school for the Peace Corp volunteers that served before the war, but it was also destroyed during the war. Also, there are 30 teachers at the school and I’ll be serving as the only female teacher, woohoo represent!
I miss everyone so much! If you’re thinking about sending a package my way, I sent an email to my mom (SaMurray5@hotmail.com) with some ideas. I also heard a rumor that it only costs a dollar to send me a letter, so you should definitely do that. I’m homesick and want to know what I’m missing out in the States!
My address is:
Rachel Murray, Peace Corps Volunteer
c/o Peace Corps
P.O. Box 905
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Hope to hear from you soon!
This is what the vice principal of my school said to me when I met him on site visit, “I have to tell you that I am so happy to see, because it confirms to me that our country is truly and finally at peace.” : )