Tuesday, September 24, 2013

July 29, A Pommern Monday. Part 4.

(As written in my journal that day; grammar and minor edits only. Italicized portions are additions written after the trip.)

The feeling of being in the right place, at the right time, lasts all day. There were two more working events. First, a clothes-sizing and second, the latrine again. The clothes-sizing was for the 13 orphans at the other primary school (not the one near the mission house, where our fellow volunteers have been working).

I have visceral trouble, coming from the land of 25-cent BINS at Goodwill and corner sidewalk FREE BOXes and even piles of clothes strewn near homeless encampments, with this first task. How can I understand the importance of two pieces of clothing per child? We're told many of these orphans have one single outfit. These orphans live with grandparents or aunts, and a shirt might be 1,000Tsh, Edward says. It might take a month to save that up, after buying food and cooking oil and fuel and matches and salt.

So Meggie, Marie and I slapdash our way through the kid's clothes Marie tossed in a suitcase back in New York (and some very small adult clothes chipped in from the rest of us).

We hold things up to each child, lined up by size, erring on the side of "too big" so they can grow into it. I'm able to give one of the big girls, maybe 12 or 13, a training bra - a thin, grey, shelf bra, a castoff of the girls in our volunteer family, and as much as she'll let herself express emotion, her eyes light up at it.

This is also the nicer part of Pommern, I'm shocked to discover. The school grounds are really quite pretty, the homes are neater, all the grounds are kept up, fences are more common. The school was built by the Roman Catholics, and there's a big difference between it (below, in the background) and the buildings built by Global Volunteers. Interesting to find out we're in the poorer section of a poor village. And I resist making jokes about things Catholics build versus things Lutherans build.

(After giving away clothes:)

For some reason, I like the picture below of us talking after giving away the clothes; it shows the intensity of conversation among volunteers the whole two weeks. Experiencing, analyzing, discussing, stretching - a lot. Beyond comfort. 

And I wrap up the day's work with a couple hours back on the latrine - and how much progress we've made! I also find out that Thomas and Moses call me The Commander. They're busted by a bilingual person who tells me this at the construction site, and I turn to them in mock insult, eyes wide and mouth open in shock. Then I laugh and they laugh, and Moses says, "Commander njema!" But our bilingual companion says, "Oh no, not true! When you walked up they said, 'Oh no! The Commander is back and now we'll die!" And here I thought I was working slow and matching their pace. Apparently, as my pal at home Mikey says, I've been mushing their butts uphill! 

As we're wrapping up, as the mortar is running out, around 4 PM, I start to feel - a little  - off. 

I walk slowly back to the mission house alone. I hope it's that I didn't drink very much today, or that I pounded my lunch of peanut-butter-sauce-with-local-cabbage over noodles (yes, it was that weird). Maybe it's the smell of the latrine, especially pungent today. 

I come home. I pound some water. I take a half-bag-shower and then absolutely MUST lie down. I'll feel better if I just rest through this terrible weighted feeling.

I get up a couple hours later for dinner, which I don't really want to do. I take only a slice of papaya - papaya!  Good for the digestion, too, right?! And I heat up a cup of the powdered chicken noodle soup I brought from home. The packing list recommended soup packets for "homesick tastebuds" and though I was sure that would never be me, I said to John, "If someone gets sick, wouldn't it be nice to give them chicken noodle soup? I'm bringing four of these."

I have to leave dinner early and lie down.

And at 7 PM, it begins. Truly violent vomiting and top-of-the-line diarrhea.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't realize this happened on the shirts day! So terrible and hilariously written at the end :-)