Apologies for this LONG-overdue post. I kept putting off updating, figuring that while I was at home I would have lots of time and free internet. Instead, I spent all my time stuffing my face with Chipotle burritos. But anyway, I'll try to give at least a brief rundown of the last several months.
I had started teaching health classes at the public middle school in my town. Many of the students are a bit older than middle school students in the states, partly because the French education system is slightly different from ours, but also because of the economic situation many families are in. Students often have to stop attending school for a swhile if they can't afford the fees (even the public schools require uniforms and basic supplies like notebooks/pens/etc.) So, I was working with the two oldest grades at the middle school, and most of my students are roughly in the 14-17 age group. Between the two grades, there are 5 sections.
So far, I've done an HIV/AIDS lesson with each section. I wanted to start small, and HIV/AIDS is a complicated enough topic that I figured it was enough to begin with. the lessons went really well and most of the students were very excited to have me in class. I'm hoping by next school year to maybe have a more regular time to meet with the students and teach about health. Also, I may start a Girls' Club over the summer and do activities that focus on women's empowerment, peer pressure, positive self image, etc.
In other news, if there were Tropical Disease Bingo, I'd probably be pretty close to having a BINGO by now. Shortly before heading to the states for my brother's high school graduation, I contracted amoebic dysentery. (Oregon Trail jokes aside, I can assure you, that was NOT much of a party.) But the doctors started me on meds and it all began to turn around. It still made for a pretty uncomfortable 36 hours of airports and airplanes over the Atlantic, but I made it home eventually. I got to spend 4 great days over Memorial Day weekend with my friends in DC, and then 2 weeks at home with family for Ryan's graduation. [And in case you hadn't heard yet, he'll be joining the ranks of the OSU Buckeyes this fall! Congrats Ryan!]
I'm sure many of you will be wanting an update on all of the heat rash issues. I went to the travel clinic while I was home to see if the doctors there had ANY other ideas for how I could treat the heat rash when it comes back during next year's hot season (as it most likely will). As I'm back in Madagascar, I obviously got all the clearance I needed to return. But now that I'm back, I've had conversations with medical and administrative staff. It's looking like I'm probably going to have to move sites, to the highlands which are SIGNIFICANTLY colder. Things are still a bit up in the air and it will be a few more months down the road, but I'm pretty sure that's what's going to happen. (Keep sending mail, though! I'm not leaving any time soon!)
The other debacle of the last few days is that my luggage didn't arrive with me on Wednesday night. Apparently it's here now though, and I can go pick it up at the airport in a few minutes. Then I'm heading south to Antsirabe for a regional volunteer meeting, and in a couple of days I'll be heading back to my village. I have a few more things to finish up while I'm here at the meva and have free internet, but I'll try to get a few more pictures up before I head out. It was so great to be home and see all of you! Keep sending mail! :)