Life at site suddenly went from slow pace to busy, busy, busy! This is a good thing though, as, truthfully, I wasn't sure what to do with myself when I first got here and many of my evenings during the first 3 or 4 weeks at site I spent laying on my couch staring at the ceiling. Thankfully, my workload has picked up and I've found better ways to spend my evenings.
These days, most of my evenings are spent playing football (soccer). I started playing back in November with a group of guys who train at the primary school across from where I live. Here, it's not common to see women playing football, let alone a white woman. So, as you might imagine, this at first attracted a lot of attention. My audience was not actually the other football players but the children in my neighborhood, all of which never appear to be under any sort of parental supervision. They roam around the neighborhood and occasionally stop to stare or greet freak shows such as myself.
These are the same children that haunt me every time I leave my house. Actually, all children here haunt me. “Mzungu, how are you?” each child will ask me. But not once. No. They will ask me over and over again...little broken records. Even if I actually answer them (most of the time I don't) they will ask me how I am 5 more times. So for the first couple of weeks, I would be passing a ball in a circle or playing a game and these persistent children would be crowded around, staring at me, trying to talk to me, and whispering back and forth to each other about the Mzungu that plays football.
Fortunately, children eventually get bored, and now I am no longer entertainment for them. They've become use to me and these days I can go to the pitch and for the most part, no one pays me too much attention, which is exactly what I want. Recently, I started playing on a new team that trains in town and luckily the transition was a bit smoother, perhaps because many of the children around town have seen me play football or have heard about me. So now I am splitting my time between the two teams and enjoying the fact that I am no longer a complete and total spectacle.
So life basically consists of work during the day and football in the evenings and my work days are becoming just as action packed as my evenings. I've gained a few new work projects since returning from our in-service training (which was held in the end of January), of which I am pretty excited about. Last week, I began coaching the cross-country team at the primary school across from where I live, the same primary school that I play football at in the evenings. Fortunately, we train in the mornings, as it's still the dry season and most days it's uncomfortably hot. Next week, I begin coaching football for girls at the same primary school, twice a week. I am pretty excited about this. School football for girls only started last year in the region that I live and it appears that very little has been done with the program yet. The actual football season for both boys and girls is next term, so I am hoping that I can begin doing some coaching this term so that they will be better prepared when the football season actually begins. As excited as I am about helping with girls football, I am also a bit nervous as well because there are a few challenges. The biggest challenge appears to be uniforms. Specifically, the school has no uniforms whatsoever. This isn't necessarily a problem for the male students. Their uniform consists of shorts and a shirt. However, the female students wear dresses for their uniforms and understandably may not feel comfortable playing football in a dress. This is the main problem. I won't even begin to embellish on the other problems (lack of proper shoes, lack of football equipment). So where does this leave me? At this point, I am hoping that the girls will still take an interest in playing despite all of these road blocks and that by the time that the football season actually begins, I will, somehow, have been able to find uniforms for the team. How am I going to do that? I have no idea yet....
Aside from these new projects, I am still continuing along with my projects with the orphanage (i.e. poultry house) and am also collaborating with another volunteer who stays in my same town on a few projects as well. So, I guess between actually having projects to work on, activities to keep me busy in the evenings and weekends, and friends to pass time with, I'm maybe becoming a somewhat adjusted person here...Let's just hope I don't jinx myself by saying so!