Posts Tagged With: literacy

091: mere Volunteers

“Hey Girly, what are you doing here?” Chelsi’s friend Mike asked, taking a seat at the dinning room table of the basement office.  Chelsi spun around in the computer chair, at a desk off to the side to face her friend.

“Didn’t you know?” Chelsi smiled. “I’m the APCVL for this week!”

“Laura’s gone again?”

“Yeah, for like a full three weeks. But I’m only here until Monday.” Chelsi swiveled back to face her open email page on the computer.

“Because we have the Animal Husbandry Workshop!” Mike added excitedly.

Chelsi laughed, “Yeah, it almost wasn’t going to happen.  Oliver didn’t get the grant money till like yesterday.  But I actually can’t go.”

“Oh no! Why?”

“Like, a week ago I opened my mouth to floss, and I got this super sharp pain in the left side of jaw. And it was like that for like four or five days, till I called the medical office nearly in tears to get an appointment with the dentist.  So they scheduled me one for Tuesday.” She paused, then continued, “It feels fine now, but I still want to have it looked at. And it just especially sucks cause I missed animal husbandry last year, because my counterpart just couldn’t get his act together enough to go.  But who knows, maybe next year, maybe third times the charm.”

“He just has his pants all in a twist,” Chelsi heard Mike say. “Admin is just very reactionary, and because everything is treated like an emergency, no one stops to think about what’s really going on.” Chelsi then heard the little bell that comes after sending a voice message on Whatsapp.

“What’s that about?” Chelsi ask with curiosity, spinning her chair back round.

Mike didn’t even take his eyes off his laptop. “You know that letter that got passed around about some of the volunteers feelings about new policy changes at the white house?”

“I might have seen it.”

“Well, apparently it got leaked to admin before the people involved got a chance to post it. And now Lusaka is acting like it’s the apocalypse. They’re saying things like, if it gets posted online, there will be a backlash against the PC Zambia post, people could lose their jobs, funding could disappear, duh di duh di duh.”

“What they really mean is that the country director could lose his job.”

“Right.”

“But really, among all the related letters out there, being written and posted, by all kinds of different organizations, associations, whatever, the chance of someone even pseudo-important picking up one for PC Zambia and passing it up to the administration for individualize persecution, is like what? One and…”

“Not likely at all,” Mike finished her comment. “But now they’re talking about administratively separating anyone who posts it.”

“I know that we’re not allowed to make statements regarding the politics of our host country.  We’re not allowed to write or sign domestic petitions identifying ourselves as Peace Corps volunteers. But this has nothing to do with Zambia politics and is nothing close to a petition.  Petitions ask for things, request a review of something, and are written in specific address to the person or office that is in charge of whatever the petition relates too.  That is an open letter, addressed to no one in particular, asking for nothing specific. Or non-specific for that matter.  It’s just a compilation of thoughts and opinions that happen to be mutually held by a group of people.” Heat began to pervade Chelsi voice. “I’ve found that people who wave around the ‘right of free speech’ don’t really understand what it’s intended to protect, but this is it; protection from governmental persecution when opinion are expressed publicly by persons about the government and/or its policies.” She pause to collect herself. “Maybe if we were federal employees, and the upper administration was worried that these conversations were taking place during the work day… Then, sure Lusaka would be in the right to take disciplinary actions; but they make it far too abundantly clear that we are not employees, just mere volunteers, not held to the same standard.”

“I agree,” Mike added, once she had stepped down from her soap box.

“And of course, something like this would blow up, right when I’m planning an extension.”

“WHAT?!” now Mike’s full attention was on her. “You got it?! And you didn’t tell me right away!?”

Chelsi smiled coyly, “Well, it’s pending medical and housing approval.” Mike stood up and approached her for a hug. “And you know, I didn’t really think to tell anyone; I figured the rumor mill would spread it around.”

They embraced, “Congratulations!”

“I know! Now we can be extension buddies together!”

Categories: Current Events, Drama | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

062: Buku wa Lesa

​“How do you feel about giving things away?” Sami ask Chelsi from across the dining table.  

Chelsi sighed, “Well…” she plucked up her white knight to capture one of Sami’s pawns. “I thought quite a bit about it. I mean, this is something that’s been building up for the better part of a year, and of course it’s only happening because Marmar happened to come to my house for that malaria activity last March.”

Sami moved her bishop to capture Chelsi’s knight, “You’re pretty terrible at this game.” Sami laughed.

“Yeah, especially considering you’ve never played before.” She paused to collect her thoughts and ideas. “So basically what happened, is there’s this man in my village and about a year ago he started asking me about bibles. If I had any, if I could find any, if I knew anyone who could bring some.  And every time he asked I gave him this non-committal answer;” She moved a pawn up two spaces, “Oh, I don’t have any but I’ll ask around, books are really expensive to ship, if I give one to you then I have to give one to everyone. And I really didn’t want a bunch of people breathing down my neck about bibles and books, so I was so-so about the whole thing.” Sami mirrored Chelsi’s move.

“Then Marmar?”

“Then last March, Marmar and I went by that man’s house for our malaria activity, and of course he was like ‘well, what about those bibles?’  And I did my shoulder shrug and Marmar was like ‘I know someone!’ And when she asked me about it later I was like ‘You know what, if you know someone go for it.’ At the very least I figured this man and I could stop have the same conversation over and over again; even if we didn’t get any we tried, and if we do, I’ll have my hands washed clean of it.” Chelsi charged her pawn forward.  

Sami moved her rook out on to the board, “And now you have how many books?”

“Like 40,” her pawn moved to capture an enemy pawn.

“Shit,” her rook moved to capture an enemy pawn. 

“I have like 4 pieces left!” the two women laughed. 

“So what are you gonna do with all of them?”

“When I was sure they were coming I asked my counterpart, and he suggested we divide them up and give them to the churches between my house and the tarmac and let the community figure out how to divvy them up.” Chelsi castled her king.  “And what I decided is that in the end, the people will be really happy, I really didn’t have to do any of the work to organize it, and always when I see men or children just standing around I catch myself thinking ‘Why don’t you go read a book?!’ and then I remember, ‘Oh yeah, there really aren’t that many books lying around.’

 Sami move her rook over “Check.”

“And so now, at least there will be more books around.  If there all bibles then fine, that’s what’s most feasible any way, and they’re kiikaonde translations too.”

“Well, that’s kind of cool.” Chelsi slid her king out of harm’s way.

“It’s good for literacy.” 

Sami slid her rook, “Check.”

“I think if it’s just going to go back and forth like this its check mate.”

“Check Mate!” Sami exclaimed with glee.

“But there is just no way to report this on my volunteer reporting form, huh?”

Sami laughed, “no, definitely not…  Like, maybe you can tell them at you Close of Service ceremony.”

“Fair enough…” Chelsi looked at her defeated statue on the board. “Do you want to play again?”

Categories: Action, Drama | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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