Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I’m Back! Featuring Little Italy: Congo Addition, and The Start of a New Era

It’s been quite awhile since I last wrote. Mostly this is because I was at home for a visit in July, and who wants to read about my life in America? Basically I took lots of hot showers and ate lots of ice cream for a month.

When I returned to Congo I found myself in the middle of the Italian Invasion. 10 Italian volunteers were here for the month of August as short term volunteers. They were working on building a volleyball court, at the farm, and helping me with the library. They spoke lots of Italian and brought lots of Italian food with them, so it was just like being in Rome again, but this time with cold showers. The girls did a ton of work covering most of the library books with plastic, stamping the inside covers, and entering a few into the computer. Now all the books have been packed up in boxes and are awaiting the opening of the library…hopefully coming soon! After two weeks of Little Italy, the Italians headed back to Big Italy, and although it was fun to have some new people around, resuming the normal schedule with a little more peace and quiet was very nice.

The Italians left early in the morning, and we quickly got to work taking out all the extra beds, chairs, and kitchen table; sorting through what was left behind, and staring at the gigantic mountain of household laundry that needed to be washed. In all the upheaval I found myself occupying a new bedroom. I am now in Room #1 and Matteo has taken my old Room #3. The room in actually exactly the same, with a few minor changes in furniture, but it is closer to the kitchen.

The room change is the first major change, and thus falls under “The Start of a New Era.” In other news, Tomas went home to Czech Republic while I was home, so now we are a community of 5. Lydia will be spending 3 days a week in Ariwara working at the hospital, so then we are a community of 4. In the next few weeks, Stefano will head to Bunia for an extended stay to oversee the building project there, so then our community will be 3. And as I write, 2 American girls are starting their formation period in Rome and will be joining us in a few months. Changes abound for the community!

Another major change is my work here. I will not be teaching at the high schools anymore, but focusing more on the library. Right now, that consists of entering hundreds of books in to the cataloguing program (very exciting work, I assure you). In the next few months it will consist of moving the books to the library, setting everything up, and opening for business. It sounds easy! My other task is working at the Cyber with Matteo and Sr. Alba. In Africa, I find myself as some kind of computer expert. I am a very good typer. Everyone is amazing that I can type without looking at my hands. So I type lots of stuff in French (and a little in English) and make photocopies and pretend I know how to fix a computer or printer when something goes wrong. The whole thing is complicated by the computers all being in French, so if I maybe were able to figure out how to do something on my computer, I have very little change of finding it in French. The Cyber is usually very busy in the mornings, so it keeps me working here. My third job is taking an afternoon shift at the bakery. I was never able to work much at the bakery before because I taught in the afternoon, but now I am free to sell bread to the people of Aru two afternoons a week. Those are my major tasks for now, and we shall see how things develop with the library and the coming of new volunteers!

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