My site—meaning my school in Inharrime—is not being replaced by a PCV this year. Apparently the school said they didn’t want someone, and the PCV who replaced me (but ended up leaving after the accident) was treated so poorly that Peace Corps was hesitant to place anyone there. It’s frustrating because it all basically boils down to one personality and it sucks that one person can prevent what would otherwise be a fantastic situation. I loved my school—I loved my students, my colleagues, and the many extracurricular activities I did there, and I know I was loved by many. I loved living at the orphanage with the girls and I know they loved me. It’s also a slap in the face that the school, or this one person, couldn’t see all the good and hard work I did there, and would say they didn’t want another PCV, presumably because of me.
The other day I stopped by my host family’s house to say hi. One of my aunts was in town, so she offered me a beer and I got roped into staying. Baby Anata (who is unconditionally obsessed with me now) came over and reached for my cup. I laughed and shook my head at her, “trust me, you wouldn’t like it.” “Oh no, give her some, she totally likes it!” my host mom said. So I skeptically held my glass out to her and yep, my namesake loves beer!
When we first moved into our house we had a lot of trouble with the neighborhood kids. They would provoke our dog by throwing rocks at it, they would try to provoke us, and they would sneak into our yard when we weren’t there and steal fruit. But slowly we were able to kill them with kindness and get them to see us as real people who live in their neighborhood, not some weird white people. Now they always ask before climbing up on our roof to get papayas, even though the way onto the roof is from outside our yard, they stop by to say hi, and whenever we leave the house we are greeted by a chorus of “Hi! Hello! Good morning!” until we are out of sight or until one of our exasperated adult neighbors yells at them all to shut up. We knew all their names and they greeted us by name—Aunt Ana and Aunt Anata. Life was good, and then school break happened. The family structure is fairly fluid here, so it’s normal for kids to live with extended family during the school year in order to attend classes, or for kids to go pass the holidays with extended family. So suddenly the child make-up of the neighborhood changed overnight and we are back to heathens who don’t know or respect us. “Our” kids have stayed true, running up to tell us about all the naughty kids who climbed on our roof while we were out, but all the other little jerks have been provoking us and the dog non-stop.
The other morning I was returning from a run and saw two of “our” kids playing outside our gate. As I approached I took out my headphones to greet them. I hadn’t heard it, but apparently a kid farther away had called me mulungu. I had to stifle a laugh as one of “our” kids said, in an impatiently exasperated tone, “she’s NOT mulungu, this is Aunt Anata, yeesh!”