First of all, vesoti au for not putting up any blogs in a long time. I know that your lives have no doubt been devoid of meaning in my absence. Rest assured that I have been working on a number of fun stories to share and pictures to accompany them - many related to random village occurrences but some dealing with my three weeks away at Early Service Training (EST or Peace Corps Training Part Deux).
However, it is my terribly sad duty to share with you some unfortunate news. Next Wednesday (11/2 I believe?) I will be leaving my village and will not be returning. Due to a recent incident involving a volunteer from a different organization (who worked at the school), Peace Corps is concerned about my safety within the village. The circumstances are such that the only responsible decision to make is to remove me from site and place me somewhere else.
Although I understand the decision that has been made and feel deep down that it is indeed the right choice, I won't lie and say that it isn't devastating. I have worked harder than even I realized to feel truly integrated into this community. It's difficult to really convey what this means. It is more than simply being comfortable; it is being at home - a place where I know the village like I know my house back home, where I know who I am and how the village perceives me in turn, where I can joke around with the chief over a bowl of grog, where I am finally able to work on projects with a very excited and enthusiastic village, and even given what has happened, where I have never felt unsafe while staying there.
I love my house and all my neighbors around; my papaya tree that was quite small when I first arrived is sprouting its first little papaya; the dog that was sort of my dog before has indeed become my dog as he follows me everywhere and sleeps on my doorstep; I know all of the shop owners in our small town - the owner of the internet shop was helping me learn Hindi; all of the children at the primary school know me well and are always at my house teaching me Fijian while we color in coloring books; the metal serving spoons hanging on hooks in my kitchen make a beautiful chime when the wind blows in just right... I know this may sound a little ridiculous but these small details are what I truly love about where I am, what makes me know I'm home. And now I am being removed and placed somewhere else to start all over again.
I learned a new word this week - sad. I guess I just never needed to use it before and, thus, had never learned it. It seems it's all I have been saying this week... au sa rarawa dina. In turn, the village has been responding with isa Tina! They don't want me to leave and some are even protesting Peace Corps over it (for all the good it will do).
But, although I am grieving over my soon to be loss, I am trying to remain hopeful and even excited about the new place I am being sent to. I don't know much about the village other than it is near Savusavu on the northern island of Vanua Levu. I hear it's nice there. I'm doing my best to stay positive and to remind myself of the challenges that I took on when I joined the Peace Corps. I will have to work doubly as hard to accomplish my work within a shortened amount of time...but I think I can do it. :)
Wish me luck on this next (rather abrupt) journey and I will do my best to fill you in over the weeks to come.
Vinaka vakalevu (or as the dialect is in the region I am moving to - Vina'a va'alevu)