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When You Know Better

April 15, 2012
Fake Sleepers

Grandpa, Yada, and Nya beg me to take their picture pretending to sleep. Don’t ask silly questions like why.

I felt like I let Pelle down last night.  The butcher was out of meat and the soup was mediocre at best.  It was an odd group.  The two Ukrainians came, the Zambians, the Philippine, the Fijian, a new UNICEF officer from Malawi, and Conquay, the superintendent at the prison.  I spent most of the night talking with Conquay about the prison.  We were sort of the two outsiders.  I tried to talk to the UNICEF woman, but she seemed half interested at best.  She’s only here for primary education and didn’t even know where my school was, almost within sight of the UN camp.  “So you aren’t here to do anything for my kids?” I asked.  She shook her head.

It seems that Peace Corps is one of the only organizations grabbing the bull by the horns and trying to help the generation caught in the middle.  It makes me sad but very glad to be here.  What would happen if I wasn’t?  Where would the fates blow these kids?  Every time the idea of leaving flashes through my head I think of them.  When you know better you do better.  I know too much to go back now.  In America 8,000 other people could do the same job as me.  Here in Sanniquellie I am the only one who can offer what I have.  That is scary some days and some days it gets me out of bed.

If not me, who?  If not now, when?

Conquay gave me a lot of hope about our project at the prison.  I asked him what level he thought they were at and whether they would be motivated to learn.  He said he thought some of them were at an 8th grade level and some of them were around ABC.  “They heard we are starting classes,” he said, “and several asked me to help them write their names.”  I can do this.  The first bit might not be pretty while we’re figuring things out but we’ll find our way.  He and Pelle are already working on the library space that we talked about Sunday so the students can have access to the materials.  Whatever we do will be better than what is happening now… which is nothing.  I am here to help the people who want to be helped however I can.

I called the office Friday and they made me feel small discouraged.  “Peace Corps doesn’t usually work on literacy, Rebekah,” they said, “It’s very hard and takes a long time.  I’m not sure what to tell you.”  I fumed about that all afternoon.  But this is needed and important and no one else is trying!  To their credit the first time I brought it up several months ago they were supportive and have never tried to talk me out of it.  I just can’t wait for them to see how successful we’re going to be.

The only thing that makes me nervous is how short my time left feels—just over one year then I have to send it off on its own or extend.  But I can’t think that far ahead yet.  The farthest I can get is the next six month chunk and I’m not even sure what’s in that.  Other people keep asking what I’m doing this summer and telling me detailed plans they have.  All I know day to day is that I’ll get out of bed.  Then the day takes over and knows what we should do.  In America I planned and scheduled every bit of my day, but since coming to Africa I’ve had to let go, to admit whatever happens will happen and that’s ok.  The wind blows you somewhere and that’s probably where you were meant to be.  In the end all you really control is how much you enjoy being there.  All you can choose sometimes is your perspective.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. christina penn permalink
    May 7, 2012 2:50 pm

    “In the end all you really control is how much you enjoy being there. All you can choose sometimes is your perspective.”
    Very wise words indeed. Blessing to you Bekka!

  2. Alex Frizell permalink
    June 1, 2012 1:08 am

    Friend, your words ring true: “The wind blows you somewhere and that’s probably where you were meant to be. In the end all you really control is how much you enjoy being there. All you can choose sometimes is your perspective.”

    You are amazing Bekka. Stay strong.

    • June 4, 2012 12:32 pm

      Thank you, Alex. I’m so glad you’re reading! Also, I can’t believe it’s been a year since we all sat in Erdman living room drinking cheap wine at reunion. Phew it’s been wild 🙂

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