Thursday, February 17, 2011

Catch-up of service

Wow, so I haven’t updated this blog in about eight months. I started several times only to erase and desist to post anything. It’s not that things haven’t happened. Oh, they have happened. I guess I’ve been busy. So, to any readers who are not my family (if there are any), let me catch you up on what’s happened since the summer of 2010. I will try not to be tedious but in the interest of completing my Peace Corps story, I feel a duty to fill in the gaps.
So, as you may remember, I started a nutrition project early in 2010 and it start going in earnest in the summer. Now, that I have about six weeks left of service, I’m trying desperately to finish the project and tie any loose ends. So, in what is typically a stress-free laid-back few last months has actually been pretty busy. I feel like I’m running a little NGO with three staff and almost no time. Still, albeit many challenges (one of them being African time), it’s been fun and I’ve learned many things about management, both staff and project-wise. Some lessons learnt are below:
-if there’s money to be spent, spend it.
-Don’t handle the money if you can although be cautious about handing the project money to others to manage. Be VERY careful.
-People work better when they’re paid. (During most of my service, I worked under the assumption that my local counterparts would work volunteer like I was. Now, that I’m near the end, I’m starting to pay them a little and it’s a wonderful contrast to see the quality and dedication of their work once they’re paid.
-Allow three-five months cushion in your project timetable, especially if you’re in Africa.
-Budget for miscellaneous.

Okay, sorry if I’m boring you to death with project stuff. Although, if I may say, this project has been the cornerstone of my Peace Corps service and it has been the job that has taught me more about life and work than anything before. It has also given me a future career direction.

So, from August to November, I worked steadily on project stuff. In December, I took a whole month to go home and visit family, and it was one of the best decisions I have made. Originally, I wasn’t planning on going home which was why I delayed so much in visiting my family. Not that I didn’t miss my family, I was just afraid I would rather stay home once I visited rather than coming back to Peace Corps for another year. Peace Corps Rwanda isn’t difficult physically. It’s just a little difficult psychologically, and I was beginning to feel the effects of not taking a vacation for two years. Anyway, I went home during Thanksgiving and Christmas season, and it was delightful. I’m proud to announce that I gained 8-10 pounds and that was from very good eating. I also spent a lot of money on clothes and other non-Peace Corps things, and I visited my friends and family. It was wonderful, and I came back refreshed and rejuvenated. Thanks to Dad and Mom for buying my ticket. Going to America also allowed me to compare the two countries more closely, and it was amazing how different America seemed to me. I realized I was not the same person I was two years ago. I’m not trying to sound cheesy. What I’m saying is that now, I can’t look at a restaurant menu in a Southern-style restaurant without flinching, and when I go into toy stores during Christmas, I’m disgusted to find that American children have more clothes for their dolls than African children have for themselves. Also, it was hard stomaching the 1000 calories per meal that seem typical in the U.S.

Anyway, moving quickly on. America was wonderful and I was happy to see my family again. Now, I’ve been back in Rwanda for about a month and a half and I’m near the end of my service. I have six weeks left till I leave.

It is weird.

It’s weird because I don’t know if I should be happy or sad. It’s weird because I’m more nervous about my future after Peace Corps than I was about starting Peace Corps in the first place. I’ve been waiting for this moment for two years now but instead of being extremely happy, I’m a little sad and already nostalgic. I’ve realized that I’ve gotten used to living here and it’s actually become sort of a home for me. I love the language. I still find Rwanda’s landscape breathtakingly beautiful. And I finally understand the people. I’ve even become Rwandan-like and assimilated the culture into my own. I’ve made extremely good friends, people I would trust with anything, and I’m sad to leave them. Also, I feel like I’m finally managing this project better and fine-tuning it so it’s more successful. Except, now I have to finish the project and leave.

I guess that’s how it’s like. If you stay at a place long enough, you become attached to everything about it and it becomes home. Unfortunately, my time here has a deadline and once March 29 rolls around, I will not be a Peace Corps volunteer and I will not live in my village house anymore and I will not go to the clinic or the villages every day to visit the ladies. None of that will ever happen again and I will go back to living in the U.S. I will have to integrate back into U.S. culture again because the U.S., believe it or not, is now strange to me.

Well, I do not wish to end this blog entry on a sad note. These last few months have been a lot of fun and I have a lot of touristy activities lined up. For example, next weekend, I will scale one of the Virunga volcanoes to observe a family of gorillas in their natural habitat. If you’ve ever heard of Diane Fossey, the primatologist, that’s where she conducted her research for many years. She’s actually buried there as well. Sooo, I will update you on that once it’s done. Also, I will try to secure some pictures even though my camera is broken.

So, until then, take care.

Monday, August 16, 2010

problems in the community

This morning, my electrical kettle melted the inside components of my wall plug. I only noticed this after the wall started smoking. Then, I noticed that my cell phone charger cord was cut in half. Bad start to a Monday morning and I contemplated not going into work. Guilt overrode me at last and I dragged myself up the hill to the clinic. Monday mornings are the busiest time at the clinic and all the women with malnourished children come that day to get their weekly portion of RUTF. RUTF is Ready to Use Therapeutic Food or in other words, a mixture of peanut butter with milk, oil and vitamins. It’s really good for the kids, super cheap to make, and the kids love it. Here in Africa, it’s the usual protocol for children with malnourishment and many NGO’s distribute it. In my community, we give RUTF every Monday to all children in the community malnutrition program. Usually, they’re supposed to be on RUTF for only around three months but since there’s nothing to go back to at home, they usually stay on it longer. One child has been on it for almost a year. When she came to us last year, we were shocked she was still alive. She weighed around 4.5 kg which is the weight of a one-month old baby. This child was one year old. We tried to transfer her to the hospital but they denied our request because they were out of the therapeutic milk. We have kept her on the RUTF for months now and just in the last three months, she has started to gain weight. Now, she is almost two years old and she still only weighs 5.9 kg. This child also cannot walk, talk and half of her face (and body for that matter) is asymmetrical like if she had a stroke. So, the mother and I decided to take her to the hospital again and this morning, we went through the paperwork of getting her to the clinic consultation room and then to the hospital. Unfortunately, the hospital had a staff of one today so he was too busy to see her. One doctor for a whole hospital! Usually, we have one doctor scheduled for emergencies, one doctor for consultations, one doctor-hospital director and one doctor to drive around the countryside evaluating the 14-so sector clinics. Since we only had one doctor, the woman decided to go home and come back tomorrow since she had left two small children at home alone. This woman also lives very far away, near the border of our sector. It’s probably over a two hour walk for her to get home but she’s coming back tomorrow to try to be the first patient seen. This woman is a good mom but she’s had a hard life. Her husband is abusive and I think he has since left her. She is the sole money provider for her kids and she has three of them. About half of the women in my sector give birth at home but she tried to make it to the hospital to deliver this child. Unfortunately, she lives so far away, she delivered on the way to the hospital. In other words, she had to stop in the middle of one of the goat paths leading to the hospital, squat down and have the baby. When the baby was born, she weighed only 2,6 kg.
Examples like this abound in my community and that woman is one of the main reasons I started a community-based nutrition program for the villages in my sector. Women like these have amazing strength and perseverance(Imagine walking eight kilometers in your ninth month of pregnancy) but they cannot handle it alone and many children end up malnourished. I have come to realize that malnutrition is not only a clinical problem or a poverty problem. It’s a social problem. Many of the women in the program have malnourished children because there are problems in the family. Now, I don’t want to criticize the men too much but I am just tired of seeing women coming to me with malnourished children because the fathers are such deadbeats. Either they drink too much, spending all the income on beer instead of food, or they take other wives, neglecting the first or second wife and her children. Sometimes, the fathers don’t work so that the wife has to farm the land and raise the children as well. In other cases, the fathers are in jail because they committed acts of genocide fifteen years ago. There are the war widows and old women who take in orphans because there are just too many children without homes. Then, there are the men who prohibit their wives from taking birth control so that women in the villages have five or six children on average. I heard a story of one woman who had the Norplant implanted in her arm under the skin. When she went home, her husband demanded she return to the clinic and remove it. She refused so the husband removed it himself. This is one reason why many women keep it a secret from their husbands that they take birth control. This is also one of the reasons why some clinics have birth control days on Wednesdays so the wives can tell their husbands they’re going to the market when in reality, they go to the clinic to get the Depo-provera shots. Recently, in one of my nutrition classes, a woman was beaten by her husband for bringing food to the cooking demonstration at the community health worker’s house. In another one of my classes, one of the women left her village after her husband left her and stole all her possessions. There are stories like these for every child in my nutrition program and the obstacles seem insurmountable. In my classes, I try to help them with the poverty problem. We give them chickens to raise and seeds to plant vegetables. We try to teach them how to cook healthy foods. The one thing that we cannot resolve however, is the oppression of wives by their husbands. That will take years of sensitization and it will take women being empowered enough to demand their rights. Still, there are bright spots to every problem. In one of my classes, my model parent is actually a single dad who raises his children wonderfully. In another one of my classes, one of the mothers could not come because she just gave birth, so her husband came to the class for her. For two weeks, he learned about family planning, hygiene, parenting and how to cook. The Rwandan government, as well, is working hard on raising gender sensitivity, empowering women, and lessening gender based violence. The government provides funds for empowerment and self-esteem camps for girls. It also is promoting a gender-based violence campaign with posters sensitizing men not to beat, bully or force their wives to have sex. The reason there was only one doctor in our hospital today was because three other doctors are in Butare training workers on gender-based violence. This campaign is a good thing and I hope people start catching on to the messages. Maybe, in fifty years, people will notice a decrease in malnutrition and poverty in the villages and maybe, they will put two and two together. When people are empowered, know their rights and support each other, you will see far fewer cases of malnutrition and poverty.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Village life

The other day I toured this old lady’s home. It was a perfectly round house made out of adobe and cow dung and it had a straw roof. In other words, it was a hut and it was awesome. Inside this tiny hut (the size of my room in the U.S.), it was separated into even tinier rooms. In the center of the hut was the fireplace, a.k.a. the kitchen. Go three feet that way and there’s the storage room. Go three feet the opposite direction and there’s a sleeping room. Head straight past the kitchen and turn a curtain aside and tada! there’s the old lady’s bedroom. And you know what’s even better about this hut…the old lady built it herself.

Now, let me give you some context or history about all this. Rwandans traditionally lived in grass and mud huts but that was a long time age. Now, most people live in square houses made out of either mud mixed with cement or bricks. The houses have clay tiling or metal sheets, if you can afford it. This is all village housing. In the capital, there’s the whole spectrum of housing from the little clay houses in the poor neighborhoods to large mansions and apartments in the rich part of Kigali where all the NGO workers live and pay New York-style rents. Anyway, the little grass huts are for the very poor of Rwandan society. In my sector (comprised of 27 villages), there are about 500+ grass huts. We know this because the government is trying to come in and rebuild these houses into modern homes. During the genocide, many of the homes and possessions were destroyed. There were many widows after the war and not enough men so women took on traditional male roles (such as building houses). This broke many stereotypes and helped advance the status of women in Rwanda. So, now Rwanda is one of the more equitable countries in regards to women’s rights, jobs, etc. There are more women in parliament than in any other country and women can work all types of jobs from the military to construction work wielding a pack axe cracking gravel (I saw this with my own eyes the other day.) In my sector alone, women are the executive secretaries of two cells (commanding five villages each) and there are many female executive secretaries of villages.
Sooo, to make a long story short, this old lady is a war widow and she built her hut after the war because her first house was destroyed. The government is going to build her a new house soon so she’s looking forward to that. I’ve seen other huts all over the place since I started my nutrition rehab project. This project of mine has me walking to villages all over the place and I get a chance to meet many people and know the geography very well. So, I have noticed all the traditional huts in my area and have seen how poor the people really are. I have also had the chance to learn about the people’s lifestyles and work routine which I find really fascinating. One thing which I had never considered before but I learned the other day was how villagers paint their homes. They obviously can’t buy paint at the nearest paint store. They actually find white stone from the hillside (chalk), grind it up and mix it with water. So, they paint their houses white. They can also add cassava powder to the mix so that the dry paint on the walls does not come off on their clothes, etc. Cassava powder is really sticky so it helps bind the paint to the walls. If they want black paint, they make a mix of cow dung and water.
Another thing I learned from one group of women is that they have to make a two-hour trip to get water. That made me sad. I only have to walk ten minutes to my water source and even then, I have a girl fetch water for me every day. I wonder how much water these villagers use. Imagine six people in a house and the amount of water they go through. I bet they probably only use one or two jericans (20 liters or 5.3 gallons) a day and that’s not enough to bathe everyone, cook food and wash dishes. I usually only use 10 liters of water a day which is 2.6 gallons of water. If I do laundry, I will use over 5 gallons of water or a whole jerican. If I have to wash sheets that day, all is lost. Sooo, I guess my point is, we stress hygiene so much in our public health messages to villagers but if you had to walk two hours to get water, would you bathe every day?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Grumpy Santa Claus

Yesterday, a little bird was resting outside my kitchen on the ground. It didn’t move when I stepped next to it so I assumed it was hurt. I went back inside for an hour and when I finally came out, all that was left of the little bird was some feathers on the ground and a little skull. Horrified, I searched for the culprit and soon eyed the ubiquitous crows that circle my house. I hate those birds. They’re big, ugly, loud and I guess, cannibals also. All day long, they love to jump and dance on my tin roof. Anyway, today, I went into my kitchen and I saw another little bird just like that one on the floor. It suddenly dawned on me that these were baby birds that had just left their nest. I had been eyeing this nest for weeks hoping the birds would grow up so I could knock the nest down since it’s in my kitchen. Oh well, I guess the birds have left the nest now. Too bad, they just sit on the ground waiting for other animals to eat them. That really is kind of unsettling.

So, I have not written a blog in a long time. For a while, I struggled with mechanical problems such as my computers dying. I killed my last computer so well that I not only fried the hard drive, I also broke the motherboard. Another reason for not writing a blog was that I only had the opportunity to write a blog when I was in a bad mood. I decided that was not a good idea either. I guess my last reason for stopping to write as much is that I’m starting to think writing blogs is a little pretentious. I guess it depends on how you write a blog or for what purpose, but when you’re in the Peace Corps, some blogs do come out sounding self-serving or gloating. Despite all these negatives, I’m back to blogging. I figure it’s a better use of time than staring at the walls in my bedroom and generally going insane. Actually, I’m not surprised people can go insane when they’re in the Peace Corps. It can really get to you.

So, maybe you’re wondering what I have been doing with my time here. Well, lately, I’ve been chicken shopping. And if you’ve ever tried to go chicken shopping, you will realize it’s not as easy as one might think. When I decided to give a chicken to each parent in my nutrition program (around 120 of them), I inconveniently forgot that I’m not in the United States and can simply go to a chicken farm and order them. The first ten chickens I bought off of the nutritionist, my partner in this project. That was easy enough but that purchase supposedly zeroed out the stock of chickens available for sale in my sector. A sector is about the equivalent of a county in the U.S. Therefore, I decided to buy chickens in the markets in the other sectors. The only problems to my idea were the following. Number one, I have no transportation of my own; two, I am a muzungu so the price of chickens is essentially tripled for me; three, I don’t really know how to buy young, egg-laying chickens so anybody can essentially cheat me. Despite these problems, I decided to at least try, and after some asking around, I caught a lift on my hospital ambulance to a sector and market around 20 kilometers away. Miraculously, one of the NGO workers volunteered to help me that day and we took a motorcycle to the market to buy chickens.

The market was huge but the chicken selections not so huge. After identifying me as a muzungu, the sellers immediately started doubling and tripling the price. Exasperated, the NGO worker told me to go hide in one of the shops while we sent a villager to go bargain down the price. After several hours, we ended up with one chicken and a rooster. Too bad I needed eleven chickens. That day, I finally arranged for a local health clinic worker to buy chickens for us and we would pick them up the next week. Well, that failed completely so we came back the next week to buy more chickens ourselves. This time, we fared a little better. We bought three chickens after two or three hours. Not deterred, I decide to try another market in another sector two days later. Unfortunately, I missed the bus so I had to walk the whole way to the market, about 8 or 9 kilometers away. There, I got chided again by my co-workers for being muzungu because all the sellers started increasing their prices when they saw me. This time, I bought five chickens that morning so I’m still missing one chicken now. I figure, after going to the market three times and not finding enough chickens for my program, I’m just going to let my clients start finding the chickens. If they really want chickens, they will have to find them and I will buy them then. As it turns out, being a muzungu is really a bad thing when you want to buy chickens.

Another bad side-effect of my project is that many of my villagers are asking me for money and chickens now. I have turned into the “money volunteer,” which if you ask any Peace Corps volunteer, that is not a good thing. I have again become a walking dollar sign. Imagine having people come up to you and instead of greeting you or making small talk, they just immediately ask, “What will you give me?” I feel like I’m Santa Claus living with hundreds of children on Christmas Eve.

Oh well, I guess being Santa Claus for two years is not that big of a deal in the overall scheme of things. People are getting chickens and hopefully the kids are recovering from malnutrition. Now, if I can only have my sleigh with reindeer or even a motorcycle would be nice.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Out of the many things I’ve learned being a Peace Corps volunteer, those that stand out recently are that eating bread and cheese for four days straight is not good on the digestive system, East African wedding receptions also have the electric slide as the token dance and Congolese doctors like to play scrabble after work…French Scrabble that is. Oh, I almost forgot this too…watching eight shows of the Gossip Girl in one day can seriously lead a Peace Corps girl into depression.

So, I haven’t updated this blog in a while. I hope you haven’t worried too much. I haven’t died or mysteriously dropped out of the Peace Corps or immigrated to Kenya to live among the Maasai tribe. I’m still gainfully employed as a Peace Corps community health volunteer in my village’s health center.

Latest events: 38 fresh Peace Corps volunteers just arrived in Rwanda, bringing our total number of volunteers up to around 90. If Rwanda’s population density is around 300 people per square kilometer, it must also be around 100 Peace Corps volunteers per square kilometer too. I personally have three Peace Corps volunteers that are less than twenty kilometers from me. Ironically, I never see them except when we travel to the capital, which is around 150 km away.

In other news, I have been traveling around lately. My villagers, at one point, thought I had gone back to America. In February, I was sent to Nairobi, Kenya for about a week to have a medical procedure done. Nothing too serious but it was still dramatically called a “medical evacuation.” For me, it turned out to be a mostly all-expenses paid trip to a city that has everything a girl could wish for. And by everything, I mean shopping malls, cinemas, and Mexican food. If you’ve never been to Nairobi, I seriously recommend a visit. It is amazing. I probably gained five pounds because I insisted on eating pizza and ice cream every single day I was there. I also racked up around $150 in credit card charges because of all the shopping and restaurant dining. I even went to a Brazilian steakhouse. You know, those restaurants where the waiters dress like South American cowboys and bring around skewers of meat to your table until you feel like you want to die of fullness and sheer happiness. They even had alligator meat, which was quite tasty.

Tell you what, after being in pseudo America for a week, it was really weird going back to Rwanda and my village. Really weird. It kinda got me thinking about the things we love most in life and how many times, they are small, unimportant things like ice cream. We don’t even realize that until they are gone. I thought that going to the Peace Corps would make me realize the triviality of all that stuff. Instead, it just showed me that the smallest things, like paper towels and wearing jeans, maybe aren’t necessary but they bring a person closer to home.

Friday, January 8, 2010

fresh thoughts for a new year

So I am sorry about the ranting in my last blog. I should never write when I’m angry. I read it again a while ago and it made me cringe just a little. I sound like a terrible person. Anyway, I guess I will leave it up on the site as it gives you guys an idea of the frustrations people encounter in the Peace Corps. At least now, I have happier news and am going to give all of my family and friends a long update of my life since then. At least, until my boss comes back and takes over the office. I’m using his office and computer right now to write this blog. My computer has been dead for a few weeks now, another reason I haven’t updated my blog.

As many of us are approaching our one year mark here in Rwanda, we have been handling it in different ways. Some have already started planning their next move once they’re back home--grad school, job hunting. As for me, I have yet to nail down a concrete plan once I return. Having been away from the States for almost a year now, I envision coming home to a land of no jobs and huge debts. It sort of makes me thankful I still have about a year and a half left in a secure job, a long time to make vague fanciful plans about my life.

I have to be honest, being here has definitely had its ups and downs. Just read my last blog for proof. Yet, even with the bad stuff, things turn around in a really good way sometimes. The political guy I complained so much about in the last blog has now become my best ally in getting my nutrition project funded. And even though it has been frustrating creating a project proposal with all the different languages and misunderstandings, I am actually really proud of how it turned out. I really hope we get funding by the end of this month. If so, we can start this project by March and continue until I leave. Oh, I guess I haven’t told you about this project yet. I am really excited about it. It’s called HEARTH or Positive Deviance and it’s a behavior change nutrition project. It has a really cool concept and is super sustainable. The concept of Positive Deviance is that, in every poor community with malnutrition, there are mothers who have innate knowledge of good feeding habits. They use the foods available in the area to feed their children healthy meals. These mothers are called Positive Deviants because they are poor villagers who have healthy children in a community of unhealthy children. Anyway, in this HEARTH project, we find the positive deviant moms in a community and use them as teachers in a community cooking class. In this class, women with malnourished children bring their children and a variety of local, affordable foods to the class. They all cook together using a nutritious recipe and get taught a lesson in nutrition, parenting, family planning, etc. Afterwards, they all feed their children. After two weeks, many children start showing improvements. They gain weight, improve their mood and energy level. During the class, the women also learn good hygiene habits since they wash all the food before cooking and their hands before eating. The program idea is so simple but it has been really successful in many countries. The key to its success is that it’s cheap and uses behavior change techniques really effectively. Mothers bring food locally available and learn from a neighbor. They also learn by doing through an extended period of time instead of sitting for an hour listening to someone lecture them. The recipes and the habits stick with them. They take these good habits home with them and implement them in their lifestyle. This program has rehabilitated children in Haiti, Egypt, Mozambique, Cambodia, Vietnam and many others. In Vietnam, it rehabilitated 80% of the children in the communities where it was implemented. Anyway, now I want to start it in the villages around here and see if it works. We also plan to have the women in the classes form cooperatives and raise chickens. We’re giving them six chickens for each group and we’re planting gardens in each of their homes. I really hope it works out because it’s a more sustainable solution to the malnutrition problem than just giving money and free food. Obviously, this program would not work where there’s food insecurity--in other words, in a desert or in a war zone. I’m a little worried because there’s a little bit of food insecurity in my villages but I will see how it pans out.

Well, that’s all I have for now. I will try to update you guys more later. Hope you had happy holidays and welcome to 2010!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas grinch in Rwanda

So, it turns out most of the clich├ęs about Peace Corps are true. Unfortunate but my reality nevertheless. When I first came to my site and to Rwanda, I kinda ignored a lot of them and just rolled with it because I was new and didn’t want to rock the boat. Actually, I think I was a little numb through it all, which is my typical response to new situations. But the other day, it hit me. It is really hard to work here and get things done. After months of trying to get students to regularly come to my English class and actually be on time, I have just given that up. When they ask me why I stopped teaching English, I just tell them that people never came and when they did come, they were half an hour late or more. Ironically, its usually the ones who never come to my English class who are the most interested in why I have stopped teaching and when will I pick it up.

On to the next topic. I can predict now when my supervisors and partners or political bigwigs in my town will miss meetings or appointments with me. Almost always. It takes weeks or months to get things finalized because people never have a definite schedule or they overbook themselves like American doctors. And one of them always has the nerve to ask me when I will get a certain project done or a certain paper written when it is a huge task that depends on others’ collaboration and it’s really none of his concern anyway.

Now, what tops that though is trying to do project planning and budgeting because we have to speak three freaking languages to get our point across to each other (not to mention that none of us are fluent in each others’ language). Give you a quick example. I’m trying to budget construction of a chicken house. We ask a guy’s help and he rattles off figures and prices in kinyarwanda. All very good but then one of the guys has to try to translate building materials and prices to me by hand gestures, pointing or a mix of French, English and Kinyarwanda. Then, we have to get on the same page about dimensions and we have a long argument about whether we should buy traditional chickens or the new exotic breeds (or modern breeds) that lay more eggs, etc. My argument is that we should use the traditional breeds since they are acclimated to the harsh living conditions and are less likely to die to diseases and no food. Then, the others whine about how it’s according to the national policy to raise the modern breeds. Their only argument. My thinking is that it kind of defeats the purpose of giving away chickens if they’re just going to die once we give them away. Seriously, the villagers just let the chickens roam completely free. They don’t feed them, protect them from predators or build them a little house to nest and roost.

It’s all so excruciatingly frustrating. I’m lucky I have a pretty calm temperament. I’ve been stood up, delayed and told false promises to so many times that it’s so tempting to not do anything. But if I do nothing, I just get bored and that’s even worse.

One last thing and I’m finished with my pity party. My computer, after six years of existence, is giving serious signs of old age. My cable started burning up a few weeks ago and when it finally started smoking, I decided it was time to replace it. This past weekend, I went into the capital and bought another cable for $50. My computer almost immediately started burning this new cable as well so that it melted into my computer. Seriously. I cannot pull it out. Surprisingly, it still works (most of the time) which is why I’m writing this blog to you right now. I hope it lasts till next May so I can buy a new computer when I visit home. I don’t think it will though.

Well, that’s all I have to say for now. Sorry to be such a bummer on my blog but I’m just in a bad mood. Been in one for a while, I think. I’ve been going through so much chocolate in my house that I think I am creating cavities. I’ve also found a new taste for icing. I buy confectioner’s sugar in the city and I make icing and just eat it straight up although sometimes I make a cake too. The day before, I had icing for dinner and then for breakfast the next morning. I do that sometimes and when I have a bad day, I eat one of those Mounds bars that Mom sent me. I guess I’m taking my emotions out on food because when I go to Kigali, I get a half kilo of ice cream and eat it all in one setting. I haven’t cooked a decent meal in about a week and a half. I’ve literally been living off of sweets and bread. The irony of it all is that I’m creating a community nutrition program right now, and I’ve been eating so awful. The other irony is that I hardly ever ate sweets in America. Cakes would grow stale and ice cream would get freezer burn. Now, I will eat one of my cakes in about one or two days.