Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Roll on, Roll on

Any of you that read this blog or notice my status updates on facebook know that this experience is somewhat of an emotional roller coaster for me. The ups and downs come quickly, in one day I can be practically elated and then by the end of the afternoon I feel like screaming or punching something, or closing my curtains and locking my door. We all know I'm a little crazy, hell you have to be to sign up for this in the first place, but I think I am correct in saying that this is ride that volunteers all over the world experience.

Many things can dictate my mood. The weather, if I am stuck wearing worn out clothes for day, a conversation at lunch, if the pig shit at my house is particularly smelly, etc. Sunday my facebook status read "Sarah brooks just had the best day of making organic fertilizer, reading a murder mystery, meeting my extended Thai family, and eating birthday cake". Yesterday it read, "Sarah Brooks is pissed and discouraged, good thing there is a long weekend coming up" and today "Sarah Brooks is looking forward to good food, good drinks, and good friends. Happy Thanksgiving". If that's not a roller coaster I don't know what is!

Yesterday I learned that my office no longer wants to support my HIV/AIDS income generating project. I'm not entirely sure that I understood the whole conversation because frankly I stopped listening. I was just so fed up. After putting on my headphones and sunglasses I stuck out the rest of the day in the office without talking much. Today, I was able to ride my bike in at ten am in beautiful weather thinking about how much I am looking forward my upcoming trip to Bangkok and thinking how thankful I am for the other volunteers. My friends and family from home are a great support system, but sometimes it's hard to explain what I am feeling or going through, and usually its pretty silly. The other volunteers get it and for that I am thankful. I am thankful and lucky to have two support systems.

My other projects are going well. The HIV/AIDS projects is not completely off the table. I can pick up the pieces and make something out of it. I'm sure of it. Or I'm sure gonna try.

So that's what's going on and it calls for much reflection. I am lucky that I have a job and lifestyle that allows for hours in a hammock with my Ipod or curling up with a book. Thanks for reading and commenting and listening.

Happy Thanksgiving! I will be celebrating with the other volunteers that have become like family at the fine establishment known as The Sizzler, Bangkok.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Something Fun

Today I had a planning session with youth group about the camp we are putting on next month. We are having a session on careers and will be bringing in different people from the community to talk about their careers and how they got started. When I suggested we invite the mayor, the girls said no thanks and asked for Barack Obama.....truly made my day!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Beaches, Bandages, and Birthdays

Wow, has it really been a month since I last posted? Sorry, to my readers, that is, if I have any left! As you all probably noticed in my last few entries I was extremely excited for my October Beach vacation. I headed down south with some of my favorite volunteers expecting to have the time of my life. You should have seen me on the airplane, I mean I was REALLY excited....and then and few hours after arrival I took a nasty spill and ended up in an ambulance with a dislocated kneecap. I haven't endured that many injuries, just some broken bones and skinned knees, etc. but this was definitely the worst of all. It HURT. My knee swelled to the size of a football and after three days in the hospital the doctor finally performed a procedure to get rid of the nasty fluid (GROSS) and the pain was finally bearable. That day I tackled the beach, on crutches, and got some sweet tan lines with the intense brace my knee was in. The knee cap is slowly falling back into place (they couldn't pop it back in) and I was able to go ahead with my vacation, sort of. Now is the time to thank my wonderful friends, because they had to do everything for me, short of escorting me to the bathroom. I couldn't carry my bags, purse, get in taxis (very well), nothing...and they were great!! They seriously helped every step of the way, all the while feeling sufficiently sorry for me. I don't think they even got made when I was so slow getting off a ferry that we missed a bus! And of course, we were able to squeeze in a couple of good times. I did see the beach, go swimming, and soak up as much sun as I could, but about every other day I would have to stay in the hotel for fear of pushing my knee too hard. 
I don't want to be dramatic and say that the vacation was ruined, but I am certainly glad I have another one coming up in December when my parents and brother come for a visit. I should be totally healed by then. They days after vacation were spent in Bangkok, seeing doctors and resting before a big Peace Corps weekend. 
We had our quarterly VAC meeting where selected members of Peace Corps address any issues volunteers may be having with staff. The next day we had the treat of a meeting with the new Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams and a nice lunch with the returned Peace Corps community that now lives in Thailand. This was a real treat and I was honored to represent my group. I also managed to celebrate Halloween somewhere along the way. 

My return to site came at the perfect time. My knee hurt, I was tired and I missed my community. And I guess they missed me. A few hours after I got home, the youth group and Pi Jam came to get me to celebrate Loy Gratong, a Thai holiday that celebrates water under the full moon, in which we send all our bad luck away. I hope it worked.

Then on Friday, Pi Jam's school pulled out all the stops for my birthday. Yes, that right's I'm one year older and turning 23 in Thailand was truly special. The celebration consisted of a food fair in which each grade made a special Thai snack. The food was delicious, the decorations amazing, and each student made me a homemade birthday card. I actually received over 100 birthday cards. It was wonderful. Then, on Saturday, my actual birthday, I hopped/hobbled on a bus to Kohn Kaen, about six hours away to celebrate with other volunteers and birthday buddy/fellow Rhodes graduate Beau. We had a joint party that included bowling (I watched), dinner and a happy hour (3 actually) of all you can drink beer. Again my fellow PCVs are proving to be amazing friends and surprised us with a legit chocolate cake. 

I returned home to mixed emotions. I am angry and tired of my knee injury. My medicine makes me drowsy, I walk with a crazy limp and can't ride my bike. Being sick or injured is certainly one of the hard parts of being a volunteer, at least for me. 

Monday, I tried to pump myself up for a productive day and was met with confusing phone calls about arranging rides and meetings. Just as I resigned myself to staying at home for the day, two of my co-workers picked me up and took me to the meeting that I thought was not happening. This was a meeting with the hospital and the leaders of the HIV/AIDs income generation group that I am working with. As there are 51 PHAs (people having AIDS) in my area I am trying really hard to help their group get on their feet. In some amazing act of something, my counterparts, the nurse and the group members had been surprisingly motivated in my absence and written a project plan with a budget and that very day we set out to present and search for support from the local government offices in the community. We visited all 5 of the offices and were able to get pledges of support and money from each. This was one of the best days of my service yet. We still have a long way to go to make this group successful, but we are on the way. And best of all, my counterparts took responsibility and did things for themselves. It is PCV's dream come true. Let's hope things keep going the way they are!