Monday, 20 September 2010

no rest for the wicked

International Literacy Day was on the 8th of September, so on Saturday the 18th our Region hosted a function to celebrate it. We were informed the day before that we should arrive at the host school at 9am, so with our 1 days notice for working over the weekend we had to reschedule our plans to meet other volunteers in Farafenni. We rocked up at 9am as instructed and took our choice of empty seats in the shade under the tents that had been constructed. About once an hour a truck would arrive from various offices in the area carrying sofas and chairs for the not-yet assembled guests. The formation of the rapidly multiplying chairs was rearranged regularly until everyone was satisfied. We passed some time by making the entire alphabet out of twigs, much to the amusement of the gathered children. At least it fitted with the literacy theme. Around 1pm the event started, which was nice. Promoting Women's Literacy in a society where the majority of women from middle age and older, cannot read and write. A policy shift in the last few years means education is now free for girls and there is plenty going on to encourage them to stay on in education. There were some interesting dramas performed by a local school group and a Women's group, although being in local language the jokes were lost on me. Plenty of speeches focused on the links between mother's literacy and child mortality and described initiatives at a community level that were addressing adult literacy issues. A thoroughly thought provoking day. It took a while for the blood to return to my legs.

Any views expressed are my own and are not representative of VSO.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

the wonderings of a restless mind

Pete thinks that the evolution of the middle ear was over-complicated and unnecessary and a third leg would have addressed the balance issue. It puts me in mind of the Top Gear episode where Robin Reliants overturn going round corners. For me, it's self-awareness that bothers me. Continuation of the species is the game, so how have we got to a point where an individual can consider one's contribution to society and feel worthless or inferior? Mental health and physical health are closely linked, therefore if you do not make a significant contribution to the continuation of your species are you less likely to survive and reproduce? Or is it more to do with a positive state of mind being an advantage regardless of whether your perception of your contribution is in line with your actual contribution? How does a species evolve to be so complicated that we're past surviving and procreating? I have a tendency to over-analyse situations – it often makes me miserable. I spend so long trying to determine a person's motivation for their actions, or lack of action, that I often forget to just enjoy myself. Friendships are similar. It appears that my role in many of my social interactions is that of an amateur therapist - through no desire of my own I may add. I merely attribute this to my ability to listen and my genuine concern for the people I consider to be friends. It becomes more interesting when you analyse each social interaction. For a relationship where both individuals feel satisfied, it could be said that on average each person should receive the same amount of attention. I could tell you the career ambitions of a certain friend's ex-boss, whom I have never met, yet I doubt that same friend would be able to tell you what country I currently live in. As I become older I become more dissatisfied with life. As a child I pictured myself in an unknown job, but being bloody good at it. As an adult, I still don't know what I want to do and feel greatly frustrated when I don't reach the levels of perfection that I strive for. In reality, I'm extremely capable, organised and efficient – it's my own unattainable standards that ensure I never feel satisfied with my contribution. Does that state of mind have a positive or negative impact on continuation of the species? Answers on a postcard please.

Any views expressed are my own and are not representative of VSO.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

things I'm not doing today

  1. going back to work after a not-quite long enough summer holiday and hearing how we improved again and must get 100% next year
  2. cycling from London to Paris - good luck Dave
  3. washing-up in Max's zoo-like kitchen
Instead I'm sat in my favourite cafe eating spaghetti and killing time. Term dosen't start for another week or so and I'm delaying my return up-country until Lucy has finished her stint at Brikama college. Last week I succumbed to boredom and booked into a nice hotel so I could at least do nothing in luxury. Good friends, hot water, clean towels, a swimming pool, jaccuzzi and a plentiful supply of alcohol have temporarily restored my good humour. Word reached me today that there will be a change of staff in the office when we return, so with the addition of two new volunteers things may be quite different. I am certainly looking forward to getting back to my own house, however modest a house it may be!
But best of all - when I go to the office tomorrow I'm hoping my new camera will have arrived. Soft focus here I come!

Any views expressed are my own and are not representative of VSO.