Monday, June 27, 2011

Fun with Water

Last week, a fellow PCV and good friend of mine, Garrison, came down to help install a well pump in my town. This is one of 52 pumps being installed in 52 weeks - a large and ambitious project in collaboration with many PCVs and Appropriate Projects.

The setup: NGO funds the actual pump, the community provides the rest of the materials and labor for installation. For under $70, a women's group can now water their gardens quicker and more efficiently. Check out the project description and project blog here:

Byron Yee
Peace Corps Volunteer - Senegal, 2009

On the Road

Did you know that two very fat women who eat way too much rice outweigh a horse? Given the right leverage (a horse cart apparently provides the perfect fulcrum), a couple large ladies can levitate a horse. It was actually pretty amazing to see a horse dangling in the air on one side and a bunch of round women rolling in the sand on the other. Luckily, I saw that the horse was struggling with a heavy load and side stepped the danger zone before anything bad happened. But rather that stopping to help, I quickly walked away and tried to stifle my laughter.

Karma has a way of knowing these things…I walked past this incident only to get into a car and was surrounded by even fatter women. I was sitting in some sort of twisted fetal position, then realized the lower half of my body was falling asleep, which I took for Allah’s way of punishing me for my poor community service efforts and even poorer sense of humor.


Byron Yee

Peace Corps Volunteer - Senegal, 2009

Dear Discovery Channel

Dear Discovery Channel, I’ve recently observed several strange animal behaviors and need some serious answers. Please take a look below and see what you think. Thanks.

1. I saw a chicken on top of a duck (yes, it’s exactly what you think). What kind of animal might that produce? What would it be called? A “chuck?” A “Dicken?” I’ve failed to find any info on Wikipedia on these creatures.

2. Speaking of mating animals, how exactly do cockroaches mate? I walked into my bathroom last night and two of these were intimately attached at the butt. How exactly does that work? I’ve never personally tried this position, nor do I think it is humanly possible.

3. Sometimes I can’t tell the difference between a bleating goat and a screaming child. But, is it the goats that have learned to mimic humans, or children that have devolved into making goat noises? Which is it? Either way, the best solution is to take a stick and beat whatever is making noise.


Byron Yee

Peace Corps Volunteer - Senegal, 2009

Thursday, June 16, 2011

COS Conference 2011

Close of Service Conference 2011

Yep, I guess it's about that time, time to wrap things up and leave your life you've been struggling to establish for the past 2 years. All social and emotional challenges aside, Peace Corps has thrown us stacks of paperwork. Which means my last month here will be spent frantically running around my town and working here and there, running to Dakar to take care of my medical and dental exams, and writing various reports in between.

Despite the incredible stress and overwhelming work, this conference was a fantastic time to hang out for one last time with the 45-50 other friends who I first met in DC and struggled with for the past 2 years.

Whew. Wish me luck, this is a serious sprint to the finish line...

Byron Yee
Peace Corps Volunteer - Senegal, 2009

Fighting Malaria

Dont' worry, I'm not being killed by malaria, the goal is to prevent anyone from ever getting this awful disease.

For the past week, PCVs in our region have been visiting our large local weekly markets (think Farmers' market on a saturday morning) and have been trying to drive some key medical points home. Our equipment?

- Very loud sound system blasting very loud American music
- Lots of PCVs and local community members making speeches about malaria prevention (yes, I was one of the speakers)
- Bug repellent cream: Using cheap and local materials
- Lots of water (for dehydration)
- Even lots more soda (also for dehydration - Coke is the PCVs Gatorade)

Results: Our work extended to 6 markets, which means it reached community members from over 20 villages. This work was much appreciated by our local hospitals as they are in process of providing free mosquito nets to every single bed in every single household in our entire region (more on that program in a later blog).

Byron Yee
Peace Corps Volunteer - Senegal, 2009

To add to the wardrobe list

Last week I was out in the fields installing a new well pump for a local women's gardening group.

My T shirt, which slowly became a faded, smelly, and holey sleeveless garment is really on its last leg. There was a tiny rip on the shoulder, but that also has evolved into quite the large hole. Large enough that I noticed a new sun burnt patch on my back which is conveniently the same exact size and shape of that rip in my shirt.

When I get home, I will immediately become Target's #1 customer.

Byron Yee
Peace Corps Volunteer - Senegal, 2009

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Why every travel is an adventure

What's the most interesting way to travel a mere 25km?

1. Hop on a boat for a lovely 25 minute cruise through the delta. (I was on an island)
2. Climb onto shore and haggle with a guy in Serere and Wolof.
3. Ride a 9-place (The same car as a 7 place, but with more people squished in) through partially marked sandy roads carved through millet fields.
4. Push my way out of the car through herds of mango vendors, only to sit and wait for another car to leave.
5. But the driver was not in sight and after 30 minutes, another small bus rolled by.
6. The driver was in a big hurry because we had to stop and load about 15 goats onto the top, so he was flying down bumpy laterate road at an insane speed.
7. Then the road ran we continue at a crazy speed, but it was even more bumpy and more dusty.
8. Between the passengers shouting in Wolof and Serere inside the car, and the goats bleating on top (still uncertain which Senegalese dialect they speak), I missed my stop.
9. So, I hopped out and walked back about 1km.

Despite the noise, dust, and prayers for my life, I have to admit that it was really a scenic route.

The most ironic part was that my ride back was much smoother, but I tripped coming out of the bus and really screwed up my ACL. Why can't Peace Corps invest in personal hovercrafts?

Byron Yee
Peace Corps Volunteer - Senegal, 2009

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Time for a bit of moisture

Last night, I thought it seemed unusually humid...Sure enough, we had our very first rain in about 9 months. This welcomes the start of the rainy season, which is now about 15 days away.

As the saying goes: March scorchers bring April dust storms, which make way for May droughts, which bring June delirium - or something like that.

This also mean that it'll be grossly humid for 15 days until the moisture saturates enough to rain. How humid? Yesterday, I was carrying bags of dry cement and the sweat on my arms mixed with the powder to create quite the solid cast. But it was so humid, it never dried enough to set. I was so wet from sweat, I decided to take a shower, but drying off created enough body heat that I was yet again, drenched with sweat.

Byron Yee
Peace Corps Volunteer - Senegal, 2009

Welcome, William

Two weeks ago, our sub region just added a new health PCV to our roster. To celebrate our excitement (as well as another excuse to party), we threw him big, bold party and showed him what our region was all about.

- BBQ'd pork
- BBQ sauce
- Real Ranch dressing!
- cookies
- mango cobbler
- Chex mix
- Fritos
- Beers
- Jungle juice
- A very bad mix of alcohol and a camera

Now imagine me shouting "Oh my God!" to everyone of these bullet points, especially the last one.

--Byron YeePeace Corps Volunteer - Senegal, 2009

Time for some new clothes

I've been sporting a pair of pants that now has about 7-8 patches on various parts of them (each a functional patch). Unfortunately, I just re-ripped my right knee, so now I have to patch my patch...

I guess I need to add new pants to my shopping list. Might as well add a whole new set of underwear as well. Those are probably deemed "totaled" in the undergarment blue book. Unless you consider holes on the back side a normal feature, which based on other blog entries, might sometimes be convenient to have...

Byron Yee
Peace Corps Volunteer - Senegal, 2009