Words of Wisdom

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” -Neale Donald Walsch

“I believe that all wisdom consists in caring immensely for a few right things, and not caring a straw about the rest.” -John Buchan

“There is no right way to do the wrong thing.” -Unknown

“It is better to be alone than in bad company” – George Washington

“The hardest struggle of all is to be something different from what the average man is.” -Robert H. Schuller

“You fuss too much over making the “right” choice Gaius. All we need do is make a good choice, see it through, and accept the consequences.” ― Graham McNeillFulgrim

“If you don’t want anyone to find out, don’t do it.” ― Chinese Proverb

Gorée Island, Senegal

I’ve made such good friends in Dakar. Friends I hope will be around for years to come. A couple weeks ago these friends and I made the trip to Gorée Island. The night before I began to prepare to feel a sadness similar to my previous visits to Robben Island or DC’s Holocaust Memorial Museum. I know visiting these places makes us all sad in remembrance of  irrational suffering but…I don’t know…I just get so sad.

This time however, I was not sad. There was something so infuriating about hearing our tour guide explain colonial history that made me see an especially deep shade of red. I know he had to be trained to retell the history with a certain upbeatness but I just wanted him to be as angry as I was. And maybe he was.

While visiting Robben Island in South Africa I remember a group mate asking our guide (who I vaguely remember was a previous political prisoner in Robben Island) how he felt about giving these tours. He confessed his torment when he was initially hired and  how he found peace in sharing a story that needed to be told of acts that we all pray will never be repeated.

I wonder where our tour guide lies on the anger spectrum of having to retell this history.

In complete opposition of the treatment of slaves, the island was beautiful and in compete opposition of my anger I giggled when I spotted “thug life” twice.

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Swahili Isn’t Helping Me Here

In the months since my last post I have completed my 2 year Peace Corps service in Kenya, went home for 6 weeks to visit friends and family in 4 states, and moved to Dakar, Senegal where I have lived for nearly 1 month in my Peace Corps Response position as the Communications and Media manager for the Stomp out Malaria Initiative.

What a whirlwind…huh?

I’m really excited about this new adventure. And I’m really excited about blogging differently. While in Kenya, I created my blog to keep my friends and family updated on projects, after my visit it home it is clear that my friends and family must make up 1% of my readership. Without the pressure of updates I feel free to write more about what I’m feeling, and I am feeling a lot. You will still here about my projects, my travels…you know my experience but this time, my WHOLE experience.

Eeek I don’t even have a photo to include in this post. It’s clearly time to take my camera out to capture this beautiful place.

Check back soon.

I am racist, and so are you.

Teespoon of Peace:

The recent news stories of African-Americans who have been murdered by law enforcement and people acting as community protectors is straining my faith in humanity after 2 years of a major boost in Peace Corps. The sad fact is I’ve probably heard 75% of my very liberal, open-minded, caring non-black friends say at one point or another that someone was scary/threatening solely because they were black, male, tall and heavier in size…all at the same time. I don’t know what the solution to racial equality is but first acknowledging that you have prejudice thoughts, at the bare minimum, is a step in the right direction.

Just wanted to share this article with my readers.

Originally posted on Being Shadoan:

And the sooner we both acknowledge this, the sooner we can begin to address the problem. So let’s talk.

“Wait just a minute here, Rachel. You’re like, the least racist person I know. You’re always sharing stuff about race and racism. You couldn’t possibly be racist.”

Here’s the deal. Racism isn’t just guys in white robes and Paula Deen shouting racial slurs. Racism is subtle, racism is insidious, and our culture is so deeply steeped in it that it’s impossible to grow up in the US and not be racist. It’s a kind of brainwashing: a set of default configuration files that come with the culture. It’s a filter, built up from birth, that alters our perception of the world. (Literally–racial bias makes people see weapons that aren’t there.) Racism isn’t just conscious actions; it’s judgements that happen so fast that we may not even be aware of…

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OVPs: Khalil’s Siku ya Elimu kwa Jamii

Khalil coordinated a 3-day community health program called “Siku ya Elimu kwa Jamii” (Family Education Day). Each day we went to a different village and raised awareness on challenges facing the community such as: HIV/AIDS and VCT testing, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), and Malaria. Of course I taught about malaria prevention, net care and repair and malaria treatment.

The event was a complete success. We reached 515 community members, 226 people were tested for HIV and over 250 nets were distributed.

Congrats Khalil on such an amazing event and thanks for letting me teach.

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World Malaria Day Project Results

April 25th was World Malaria Day/WMD. March – May was our time to shine as the Stomp Out Malaria program coordinators in Kenya and shine we did through the incredible work of our volunteers. In celebration of WMD our volunteers completed 26 projects which reached over 52,000 community members and they are still working to reach even more.

Malaria in Kenya is daunting and a little bit mind boggling considering the amount of resources we have and the amount of efforts geared towards reducing the burden. Sometimes the large organizations are just out of touch but PCVs are not visitors but members of their communities for 2 years and we know exactly what the problem is in our small areas and how to solve them…then we do exactly that.

The 3 initiatives that we wrote proposals for, secured funding, and supported our volunteers through were malaria murals, information booths/tables and bed net use appreciated photo displays. All 3 of these projects attack what’s now needed in the fight against malaria: behavior change. The murals serve as a constant reminder to sleep under your net and other preventative or treatment methods, the information booths give you opportunity to have one-on-one dialog to answer questions and dispel myths and the photo project publicly recognizes community members who have adopted healthy behaviors. Here are some results…

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