I apologize for my lack of blogging. I’ve gotten busier here and have had trouble keeping up with this. Here is an update:
The Weather: It's raining this year! Unlike last year it actually has been a very wet rainy season. Almost every day we've gotten some rain. Things are flooding. Mud Houses are falling down. But most importantly the Coos, Corn, Groundnuts, and Rice is GROWING!
The Care Group: (see last post): The ladies are going strong. We’ve now taught about Nutrition, Diarrhea, Environmental Sanitation, Waste Disposal, and Malaria Prevention. I see so much excitement and pride in the seven women who have become health teachers in the village. They want me to make a book for them of the visual aids we’ve used so they can teach without me when I leave. I’m so proud!
America: In July I was lucky enough to take a trip back to home! I got to see go to a Starch reunion in Colorado, hang with people in Michigan, and glam it up in New York City. It was so nice to see so many people I love so much and have missed intensely. Also the food was amazing…
Despite attending four years of art(/design) school I hadn’t done fine art in a long time. But the Gambia has brought me back to painting and I’m loving it! Images are so important here in West Africa. It’s not like America where we are exposed to countless images on TV, in advertisements, online, in books… here pictures are a rare and a highly valued thing. They become more valuable when they can also spread a message because here in the Gambia literacy rates are very low. Images can help many people understand new concepts if they are done well. Murals are a great way to get more information images into the country because they are durable, cheap, and can be put in a variety of locations.
I’ve painted murals on how to make the local mosquitoes repellent in a friend’s village; a series of health murals in a village on the other side of the river; and have begun painting visual aids in every classroom at the school in my village. I love having this ongoing project becauseI can pick up the painting whenever I have time. I’ve had lots of friends come and help and have been pleased with how many villagers have come to practice painting.
The PC admin found out about all my muraling and asked me to help lead a mural workshop for twenty Peace Corps Volunteers in early September. We got a grant to do this training and develop health murals. Another friend and I designed ten health murals that could be gridded out and copied by volunteers. At the training we taught about effective visual aids, steps to painting a mural, color mixing, painting techniques, and my favorite how to make objects POP with simple shading.
I think the training went really well! Volunteers seemed excited and confident about their muraling abilities and ready to go paint in their communities. We calculated that if every volunteer just did two murals in their communities up to 30,000 Gambians could see them and start thinking about important health topics. Plus painting is just fun and livens up buildings!
In other news my host mom just had a baby! A baby girl was born August 25th in our compound. I missed the birth but was in the house while the midwives scrubbed my new baby sister clean and prayed over her. She’s big and healthy and good at crying. My host family seemed very happy and honored me by naming the baby after me (my Gambian name) Fatoumata Sowe! Another Fatso joins the world J