Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hey Everyone,

So I am in a Cyber in Porto Novo and excited to finally have some time to write. pardon spelling errors please because it is a french keyboard and hard to type. it is really gret to read all of your comments so thank you so much=they are keeping me going! training is ridiculously busy and taxing==emotionally and physically...but thats okay. My host family here is very nice-- i have 4 brothers ages 3, 11, 12, and 15 and a 4 year old sister. They are really cute and help me avec ma français which is slowly but steadily improving. One of my brothers has traditional facial scarring and the family also speaks goon and fon. We are living with pretty well off families in porto novo so i think that getting to post might be a bit of a shock. For example right now i have a toilet which i am pretty sure will change soon when training is over.

A note about my phone. My number is 98 47 71 21. To Dial OUTSIDE of the US with a housephone, cell, etc you have to dial 011. that a lot of time doesnt apply if you r using a phone card because its already included to make an international call. the 229 number is Benins country code. So if you arent getting through that ,ight be why. you cant leave messages on them but i will leave it on every night pretty much from 6 till 1am here or so. Phones here are buy the phone and you dont have plans but you just pay as you go with recharge cards so they are really easy to use.

So today I went to village to do some baby-weighing training. The babies are really cute (Lynn, you would love them) though it is really difficult to actually be seeing malnourished children. I had this ,o,ent today zhen i was putting the harness on one of the babies of "I am in a village in Africa weighing babies in a tiny village" and it was overwhelming. I am looking forward to being culturally integratred and can now better understand why they want you here for 2 takes about the first year to adjust and find your place before you can be effective in projects. It is strange how people handle babies here. THey will sometimes swing them up by one arm and they arent so fragile here. I saw one brother hit his little sister hard in the face because she was underweight but it wasnt our place to do anything...we dont even speak the language. There have been a few ti,es of vigilante justice and corporal punishment so far. I havent experienced it in my family at all, Dieu merci. My family is pretty excited that i am from new york because they know it from movies. And they LOVE george bush here so so far this is one of the last few places where saying you worked for the Bush administration still elicits some excitement.

Another few people have early terminated and its always a small slap to morale, i've discovered. But so far I am liking it here. I have moments when i am really homesick but it comes and goes and i am mostly happy--especially since finding the bbc on my shortwave. at least now i dont feel so detached. The things we are learning about nutrition, breast feeding, health so far are all really interesting and I still mostly can't believe that i am here doing what I am doing. If someone zould tell g-ma I got her letter I'd be much obliged. So there is hardly any time to write letters in training but i pro,ise that i will write to you a tone when training is over. And i promise you'll get a letter post-marked from Africa SOME time but i have to space it out because we have very little money and we can send them for cheaper through the Peace Corps Headquarters. What else what else. There is so much that i can't even remember what i wanted to say. Ah...Really amazing fruit here. The pineapples and mangoes are great and i get a lot of fish for now since we r on the water (Not the kind of fish in NYC restaurants or anything but still yummy). You begin to understand the difference here far more between what you want and what you need here in terms of housing, food, etc. Its also a terrble feeling to be called YOVO (White person) everywhere you go. It is so culturally inappropriate to do that at home and it just gets to you after awhile with a parade of kids follozing you everywhere you go calling "yovo yovo, what did you bring me?"

Doing laundry is definitely something I will appreciate when i get home. I have a metal bucket, water and a bar of detergent. It is hard work but satisfying to do as well. It takes long to dry in the humidity. Boiling and filtering water is also a time consuming process...if anyone wants to send me crystal light I will love you forever. OK well I should wrap it up for now. I will write more soon I hope...maybe next weekend I will come to the cyber again. Hope you are all well. I miss you more than you know. Thanks again for your comments.


Aunt Loretta said...

Hey Cat ~ Loved your latest post. It sounds like quite the interesting place. I so envy you. I've let G'ma know that you received her letter. I purchased a phone card but have been unable to get through ... thanks for the tip about omitting the 011 when using a phone card. I think that was the problem. I've tried a few other times, but all circuits have been busy. If at first I don't succeed, I'll try, try again. I can't wait to hear your voice. We had a watermain break this morning and our road looked like a river. As a result they had to shut off the supply so we've got no water. I immediately thought of you and what you must be experiencing ... I guess I can't even begin to imagine. You are in my thought and prayers daily and I can't wait to speak to you "live". We miss you a trillion poopies and more ... hugs and kisses, Aunty Loretta and Uncle Mike

Anonymous said...

Hi Pumpkin!
It was great talking with you and know that we are ALWAYS thinking of you. The code worked great and we were happy to call. Your blog is a wealth of information and look forward to reading it. Hopefully you will be able to update it once a week with more interesting facts.
We love you and keep you in our prayers.
Hugs and kisses.

ps - Coby, Guizmo and Liefe say hi too!

Sandra said...

Hi Catherine,
I registered to be your educator partner and look forward to teaching the kids a bit about Africa through your experiences! It is hot here in Massachusetts, but like Aunt Loretta said with her "no water" situation, I think of you and wouldn't DARE complain about the heat and humidity we have here! I enjoy your posts, keep 'em coming!

Patty Forgione said...

Hi Cat! Africa sounds amazing, the experience alone and then all the things you are learning is absolutely fantastic. I'm so glad to hear you are enjoying. I can't believe all the "siblings you have now," how does it feel to be the oldest sister? I love hearing the details and am glad there is fruit and fish to eat!! Take care! talk to you soon :)


Aunt Nancy said...

Hi Catherine,

Aunt Loretta beat me again, Darn!! How exciting,interesting and difficult your days are sounding. It's weird for me to think of you as being part of the minority. It's an aspect of your life that I didn't think of, and I'm sure it's quite trying at times. What does "traditional facial scarring" look like, and why does only one of your brothers have it? It is an age thing? I did three loads of laundry today, most days actually, and I can't fathom the bucket you are dealing with. You're a better person that I, but we've always known that. Emily has mono. but that seems insignificant compared to the vigilantism and corporal punishment you spoke of. Miss you darlin'...keep well and keep safe.
Lots of Love, Aunt Nancy xx

Anonymous said...

CATHERINE!!! HI! i just read your latest post. Although we miss you dearly back at home, it sounds like you are on an incredible adventure. i still give you so much credit for doing what you are doing. Reading your post makes me wish i had as much courage as yourself, but i don't.. not even close. As my mom said, you being part of a minority is a weird thing to think about. I would feel so uncomfortable being shouted at all the time! Also, im quite jealous of the fruit situation. I feel like everytime my mom brings home fruit, theyre never as tasty as they used to be.. maybe theyre going out of season? i dont know. But.. To update you with life at home.. there is not updates! Life here is as usual and boring as ever! So don't be homesick, youre not missing much. WE are the ones missing much :) The latest drama in my life is that i have mono, so i have been homebounded, spending my days and nights with my mother and father. As fun as that sounds, you seem to be on much more of an adventure. I think and pray for you every night before i go to bed. You are changing the world catherine wauters, you are changing the world. Keep doing what youre doing! And although everyone home is wishing you were here, you are making a significant difference in these peoples lives... you are making the world a better place, and not many can say that. Have an AMAZING TIME, we all miss you dearly<3 i love you!
lovealways, emily busi :)

Andrea said...

Hey Wauters!! I am so happy to hear from you and to know that you are doing so well. I never doubted you for a second!! Thank you for letting me know about the phone card...I can't wait to call you and to hear all your amazing stories first hand. You are incredible and I wish for your strength! Talk to you soon!!
Love, Andrea

Bonne Maman said...

Hello Catherine,
Sorry it took so long to reply, your dad finally explained what this was!

So very proud of you!!
Love you, love you ....

Can't wait to speak with you.

xo ~ Aunt Annie ~ xo said...

Hi Baby Doll!
I just finished reading your blog and I am so touched. Your care and concern for the people in this country that you now reside in, is amazing. They are very lucky to now have you as a friend. We are very lucky to have you as family! I will teach Uncle Tommy that "name" that you don't like. See how he likes it!!!
I read that you wanted some Crystal Light, and I'm sure by now, everyone who has read your blog has mailed it! Please let me know if there is ANYTHING else we can send you, to make you feel less homesick.
As I have said are my hero. Keep smiling, learning and living life to the fullest as you do. It's what "YOU" do baby! And you do it so well. We miss and love you very much. Glad all is well with you on your adventure.
Stay well baby doll. xo P.S. I will send you some pics of my "outfits" soon. I'm sure you miss them! xoxo xoxo xoxo

Aunt Loretta said...

My darling Yovo ... it was so wonderful to speak to you the other day. I know you told me it made your day, but I have news for you, it made my day too. I have a wonderful package I've put together for you. I have two (2) more items to put in the box and it will mail by Friday, July 25. I'll be sure to put the little religious notations on the outside. I hope you like all the "goodies". Can't wait to speak to you again ... so until then, God Bless, hugs and kisses too, Aunt Loretta

Aunt Linda said...

Hey Catherine-It has taking me 2 days to figure out how to post (I didn't know my password) so this message was supposed to be from Friday. First I wanted to say it is so wonderful to read about your new life,family and work. I'll be sending a written letter because as you know I can talk and talk, well anyway yesterday I had alot of your boy cousin here, Alex is giving John,Owen, and Aidan guitar lessons and they all send a BIG HELLO! Look for my letter and pkg. We love you and your in our prayers!

Anonymous said...

Hey buddy!
I'm soooooooooooo sorry took me this long to write back. Been crazy. I've been writing you letters so they should be arriving soon. I'm trying to figure out how to use Skype...its a little tricky. I'll figure it out so we can chat. Miss you oh soooo much!

Samantha aka Spam said...

Hey Cat!!!! Sorry I havn't commented sooner, I just finaly realized how to do it haha I know im a spaz... sorry for my typing and spelling errors, my keyboard isnt in french but you never tought me proper english, only history haha so its your fault! Im so glad your liking it down there and not comming home, I mean i miss you and all but even if you were home youd prob be booked so I would rather get a good excuse of being in Africa then you just cant hang out haha JK!! you know i loves you!! ok well ill be writing soon, I know it isnt once a week like I said I would do but you didnt bet me, so I think once a week would be over kill haha well everyone told me to say hey to you and ill be getting a calling card when i get paid on thursday and will be calling you very soon! well its nice to see you leaving blogs, its good for me to learn off of haha and well i now know that they arn't at war with them self thank you! haha hope you are doing well and I will see you in 2 years but speak to you soon!!! be safe, later my love!!! from your buddy Spam :)