A Letter to Grandpa

August 10, 2014

Hi Grandpa!

I wrote you a letter two months ago. Mom says that you received it. Oh my goodness so much has happened since then. I’m not sure where to start; I guess the basics would be good. I can now hold a simple conversation in French, such as ordering food, simple commands, and get/give directions. I can now communicate with my host family.

In my host family, I have a mom, two sisters ages 11 and 7, a cousin, and two family daughters who we sponsor. This means that my mom pays for their schooling and in return the girls help out around the house. I have been here for two months. I leave here on August 17. It’s sad, but I will be staying in contact with them. They are so nice to me. They make me hot water for my bucket bath. They make me eat most of the meat in my dinners. Meat is expensive here, so that’s a big deal. It’s honestly exciting to move out, however. I’m like my daddy, I like my independence. Also it gets annoying to be watched 24/7. During training we have a lot of rules. It will be nice to swear-in and live by myself.

Swearing-in is next week on August 19th. We make our commitment to serve and officially will be volunteers of the Peace Corps. After this, we go shopping for our new homes, then move to our sites where we will be living for the next two years. I will be living in a town called Meguet. It has a population of about 7,000 people. They are mostly small vendors at the market and cultivators. Farming is a huge source of income here in Burkina. It’s actually very enlightening to watch because they use all manpower – no machines. They use cows to plow the fields and the whole family to care for it.

My house is very small. About 500sft. Just a bedroom and a salon (kitchen/ living room). I am so excited because it will be mine. I am lucky that I will be replacing a previous PC volunteer. I am lucky because the house is mostly furnished, and the community is used to a white person. I also have electricity! This is rare among volunteers. I am so excited that I won’t have to worry about charging my phone and I will have a fan at night.

I am excited to be off my leash and venture out into Burkina all on my own. I absolutely love it here so far. Don’t get me wrong, it is very difficult to live here. Laundry is done by hand, you use a poop hole to go to the bathroom, there is no running water, no A/C, and you’re all alone. It’s truly the people that make the experience here.

As a volunteer here, we are required to have Secondary Projects. This is a grand idea because if you can’t make a difference in the classroom, you can make a difference community wide. I will teach life skills and incorporate American Cultural into Burkina. By this I mean mostly towards the education system. Also with personal hygiene.

The people are largely uneducated here about the simplest concepts. Mainly prevention tips. For my projects, I would like to start an art and crafts club/program. I think it would be fun and completely different for the kids. There is an all girls dorm that is sponsored by an English man here. The girls also want computer lessons/classes. Then, of course, tutoring for all subjects is very important. The education system here is awful. Most of the teachers do not care. The children do not receive any attention.

I just want to try and help in any way possible. Right now I am taking baby steps; I don’t start teaching until October. So for now, I am focusing on learning French. I am having a hard time with the pronunciation. The Peace Corps takes care of me very well. They will pay for a tutor when I get to site to continue my learning.

Even though it is hard to be here sometimes, everything is a blessing. I hope you are doing well. I think about you often. I also think about how I am sorry that we didn’t talk more when it was easier. But I love you. Take care and I will try to update often 🙂

Love you,

Abby <3


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