Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Best village in Tonga, maybe the world!



















"It's Tonga" Moment:

- I had gone over to my neighbors house one evening and on the way back I had to walk through a cow pasture to get to my house. It was dark and at night the cows and bulls rest on the walking path, but most move when I get close. One wouldn't. I asked him politely to move, "MOOOOOOve!" (I took my cue from Dory in Finding Nemo and spoke "cow-ese") with no success. Finally I braved whatever was lurking in the tall grass and walked around him, giving him a wide berth. When I got back on the path behind him he started following me. He would walk when I walked, and when I stopped and turned around he would stop and look all innocent. As if I wouldn't notice an eighteen-hundred-pound behemoth following me. Finally I stopped and turned on him. I wasn't sure how you're supposed to deal with a bull, are you supposed to play dead as you would with a bear? Or perhaps not make eye-contact as that could be interpreted as a sign of aggression? I tried to resolve the situation diplomatically by talking to him, trying to explain that I just wanted to go home (I AM in Peace, Corps, what do you expect?). When that didn't work I had to resort to more extreme measures. I looked around for something to throw at him, and hark, there at my feet was a large coconut. I picked it up and gave him one last chance to back down. He didn't take it. I channeled my inner Brett Farve (Vikings' Brett Farve, NOT Jets' Brett Farve) then let it go. Direct hit. He let out a "moooo" and ambled off into the pasture, and almost immediately I felt a bit bad. Maybe he just wanted to be friends? I got over it pretty quickly as I sat in my house that night and thought about how much time and money I had spent earning my education, and here I was fending off stalker bulls by throwing coconuts at them. Sigh.

In other news, my rat traps have been working overtime lately. It's the wet season here and I think the rats try to find their way indoors to get out of the rain, and as a result I have caught 8 rats in my traps in the last few weeks. Yahtzee! I also stumbled across a new oddity on my bathroom floor. A hermit crab. Those of you who have been reading since I've been here know that last year I had a recurring visitor to my kitchen, a crab, but I ended up deciding that it wasn't THAT unusual because it was possibly a coconut crab that lives in the bush and could concievably make it to my house. THIS crab, however, is definitly a beach-dwelling crab. I have no idea what it's doing in my house, which isn't that close to the beach. Being in Tonga a year and a half has taught me that some things don't have explanations (or explanations that make sense to me) and there are some things that I don't need or want to know the explanation to. I just shook my head and went about my business. I should start a new segment in my blog: "Wierd Things I Find on my Bathroom Floor"
I was in my house one Saturday afternoon when I heard some of the boys right outside my window. It sounded like there were at least five or six of them, and they were obviously inside my fence, which they usually don't come inside without permission (If an older boy sees them, they'll get hit, even though I've said I don't mind). I put on my lavalava (sarong) and a tee-shirt and went outside to see what is going on. As I walk outside I see the boys bent over in my yard, pulling weeds and cutting the long grass with machetes. They look up, surprised to see me, they had thought I wasn't home. I asked them why they were cleaning up my yard, and they simply replied, "Because it was ugly." No one had asked them to; they had come over to play and seen that my yard was, in fact, quite ugly and took it upon themselves to fix it for me. They are all 8 or 9 years old, and they spent an hour sprucing up my yard.
After they entirely cleaned my yard they asked for the soccer ball and football to play with, which I gave them. They then spent the next three hours in the schoolyard, running around, playing, wrestling, having relay races. At one point they collpased exhausted on their backs in my (freshly cleaned!) yard, but within thirty seconds one boy sat up, which spurred a full-contact sit-up and push-up competition. A sight to behold, if you've never seen one.

It was really fun to watch them just playing, no adult supervision, no organized drills or practices, no fancy equiptment. I gave them a few balls, but when they don't have balls to play with I've seen them make toys out of sticks, coconut husks, tin cans rescued from fire pits, rocks, and bicycle spokes (From the bicycle spokes they make these little internal combustion chambers with a nail, the scraped-off heads of a few matches, and a piece of wire- pretty genius). They never get bored, they never complain, and they very rarely argue amongst themselves.

This past week construction began on the library, and I have been so impressed with the work and support the village is putting into the project. Before they stated the construction the PTA met and worked out a schedule of who was going to take food to the workers every day and the work plan. The men in the village are building the library entirely, which initially made me a bit nervous not knowing if any of them had any formal construction experience, but it seems to be coming together really well and they've all grown up swinging hammers and working. Every day last week men in the village showed up to help, and plenty of food was brought to them by a different family each day. I was hoping that I would get to help build the library a bit after school, but there are enough people showing up to help out that there are usually people sitting in the shade waiting for something to do. As a girl, they would be reluctant to let me help out anyway, much less when there are plenty of capable men around to do the work :) So I kind of accepted my role in the community, made them cookies and watched as the library has taken form. It's coming along really quickly with all the help, and everyone is very excited about it.

Once the library is finished some of the youth from the village have agreed to help me paint a world map mural on one wall. We got some leftover paint donated from the hardware store on the main island, and we're ready to paint!

One thing our library is lacking is enough books to fill it! I've recieved some donations through friends and family and through book aid agencies, but if you have any extra children's books lying around and would like to help my students and community, please send them to:

Jennifer Danielson, PCV

P.O. Box 24

'Ohonua, 'Eua

Kingdom of Tonga

South Pacific

If you are interested in doing that, just know that shipping can be quite expensive, so your best bet is probably a flat rate box which can be found at the post office.
Another option is donating towards the shipping cost of a box of books through a book aid program I'm working with, International Book Project. Here is the information for that:

The International Book Project is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit which collects new and used books and sends them to schools, libraries, and other nonprofit organizations in developing countries. You can learn more about our organization at our website http://www.internationalbookproject.org/. The cost for shipping an m-bag (approximately 32 lbs) of books is $200. You may donate by sending a check to:

International Book Project

1440 Delaware Avenue

Lexington, KY 40505.

You may also donate online via credit card at http://www.intlbookproject.org/donate.php. Please indicate in the memo of the check or the notes section of the online giving screen that the donation is for Jenny Danielson. All donations are tax deductible.





1 comment:

alicia said...

i love the way tongan kids can keep themselves entertained for hours :)