Tafi Atome, I’m home

I have been here for just over two weeks and it feels like home. I have never come across a more welcoming community. This past week we met the chiefs, there are about ten who governor Tafi Atome. It was sort of a formal ritual/meeting. We were instructed not to cross our legs in anyway in front of them (of course I forgot and did it anyway by accident) and after introductions and expressing to them our projects we presented them our gifts, alcohol. They then chose a bottle, said a prayer and passed it around. We each took a shot and poured some on the ground for their ancestors…even though it was barely 6 in the morning. But it’s the words the chiefs spoke that I will never forget, they told all of us that this is our home now, not our second home but our permanent home and according to them we are now family. They encouraged us to explore and get to know every nook and cranny of the village, they let us know they are available for anything we need, and they even insisted that once we finish school we have to come back to get married! I could not have picked a better organization and village to visit. The days are long and exhausting, but incredibly fulfilling and the weeks seem to fly by. I wake up every morning to get to breakfast by 7 then I either go to work in the clinic or teach in the primary school. The clinic is run by a sweet nurse named Mercy. Most of the patients that visit the clinic are dealing with malaria, pregnancy, or just being sick. So I have been doing book work or taking patients vitals and administering malaria tests. Let me just say every time I see the young girl I gave the first malaria test to I have to bombard her with sorries because I must have pricked her finger 10 times to get enough blood (whoops)! As for the primary school, I have been teaching grade 3 but the students ages vary from 8 to 14, because of this students skill sets vary. These students truly have the drive to learn but not nearly enough means to do so, it’s heartbreaking. Because of this our group has set up after school activities for the children of Tafi. Everyday after school we open up the library and computer lab for a few hours and offer tutoring for students who want any extra help. As for their life outside of school we created a club that focuses on their well being. The club is composed of exercise, community clean ups, confidence building, sex ed, and art because we want to improve the health (mental and physical) of the children and the community. This is something both the village and volunteers wanted to improve so because of this we named the club, Lom Nava, which means something along the lines of love myself. This club is becoming my favorite part of my trip, we are creating unforgettable bonds and memories. One memory in particular never fails to make me chuckle, I woke up to over fifty children outside my window at 4:30 am, excited and eager, to go on a few mile run we had organized. The whole run they sang and chanted, and even when it started to pour their moods could not be ruined. Their energy and happiness is inspiring. These memories and bonds are some I will cherish forever.

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