Owen

(12)

I am adjusting to my life in the village. I have learned to cook small meals, mostly eggs and vegetables. Writing letters back home is a chore. It takes four to five weeks to get a response. Mom keeps sending recipes, but all I have here is a kerosene stove and a couple of pots. I enjoy the occasional packages of chocolate and cookies from home. Dad, sometimes, gives updates on President Johnson’s great society initiative. At night I sit out on the stoop playing my guitar. Kids gather around me to listen. It’s hot. The mosquitoes whizz past my face when I sit outside and even inside when sleeping. I have learned to ignore an occasional mouse running across the floor and spiders and lizards trotting on the walls.

I want to be with Rachel, but the only way I can do it is when I visit her. The volunteers have no telephones. I can send letters locally but there is no guarantee that they’ll be delivered. I am helping Kasigo plan several health projects.

“We need to educate the people, Kasigo,” I say.

“It’s true, but most of our people can’t read.”

“We can have small meetings in the market or in our clinic. We can draw pictures, and talk to them about how to keep their houses and surroundings clean. Tell them about how mosquitoes breed, how not to let water accumulate near their huts. There is so much we can do.”

“You would help me do all that? What if they don’t come? Men are busy working in their fields and women are busy cooking, washing clothes, taking care of the many children.”

“We can try and see what happens.” I want to convince her.

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