Planning a training for 70 people is a little more stressful than I had realized. There’s the schedule (How long should we break for lunch? Can that guest speaker really talk for 2 hours? What if I’ve foolishly forgotten my watch and have no idea if anything is running on time or not?), the materials (markers and pens and paper, oh my), logistics (how do you set up a room obviously meant for weddings to encourage discussion? After arranging and rearranging for no less than 2 hours, I now consider myself an expert on this topic), and of course the content. After 3 months of researching behavior change theories, stigma and discrimination activities, and doodling health messages to include in a booklet (finally my true talents are being put to use), we were ready for volunteers and counterparts to arrive from all over the country for 5 days of community activist and medicinal plant fun. And despite how nervous I got standing in front of such a large group, I think the workshop was a great success! It was an amazing opportunity for people from all over Mozambique to come together and share their successes and frustrations and help each other come up with solutions. It was such an encouraging environment and one that I think, and hope, reenergized everyone to take new ideas back to site that will help the whole community.
It was a fantastic week of learning, and of course it was nice to be reunited with all my volunteer friends too. A week in a hotel with wireless internet, hot showers, Coke Light, National Geographic animal shows on tv every night, and the chance to Skype with my family was just the icing on the cake to help me celebrate many hours of work finally being realized. And when the week was over, I thought I was going to have a couple of nights in Maputo to get a check up, and some free time to go to the craft market and get pizza and ice cream. Well a couple of nights turned into 10 nights as I had to get allergy tests and the results took a while since my blood sample had to be sent to a lab in South Africa. But how can I complain? I went to the craft market no less than 6 times (it was on the way to the ice cream shop), went out for pizza 3 times, had a Greek salad, had a chocolate brownie sundae, stayed up way too late watching YouTube videos with other volunteers who were in Maputo for a REDES meeting, and 10 more days of being able to Skype with my family. The whole going to the doctor part, getting blood drawn, and finding out I’m allergic to practically everything (except cats! And very low allergies to dogs, the silver lining to all of this) kept me grounded or I would have really thought I was on vacation. But it was a nice break after an exhausting week. And at the end I actually wanted to come home to my simple house and get in my own bed and use my own kitchen and get back into my usual routine. At least for a little while- less than 5 months left until I’m officially done with this part of my Peace Corps journey!