I'm back at my site now, and I'm feeling pretty good about things. During IST I had been feeling a little overwhelmed and ill-equipped to help with the many issues that people in my village are facing and like I wouldn't be able to meet their expectations. Today was my first day back at work after my two weeks away at training, and I was a little nervous. I was surprised to hear people yelling out "Hey Neo!" as I walked through my village and that they had missed me. I had told everyone at the clinic and S&CD office that I would be gone for two weeks and others that I had made connections with over the past couple of months, but I guess I hadn't realized that I would be missed until today. It was a heart warming way to start to my day.
This afternoon I went to the JSS (Junior Secondary School) to catch up with the guidance counselor and a teacher I had been starting to work with. I ended up meeting with the guidance counselor for over an hour. We set up a STEPS presentation for the students in the PACT (Peer Approach to Counseling Teens) club for September. For the STEPS presentation, another PCV and I will show the students in PACT a film about teens talking about sex, and then we will facilitate a discussion about the film. The guidance counselor said the PACT students want to get more involved in educating their peers but have just been nervous about it and unsure of how to start so she is hoping that STEPS will help to encourage them to start making presentations. We also scheduled a focus group discussion with the PACT club. I'm really excited to start working with the PACT students. We also talked about the OVCs ( orphans and vulnerable children) and how there is supposed to be a meeting soon to plan a special day for the OVCs during which they would get food and presents. There have been problems planning it because people keep pushing back the meetings. I offered to help in whatever way I can and to come back to the school and help her encourage people with planning. She also brought up how there are 5 girls at the JSS who each just found out that they are pregnant recently and how school staff keep talking about how there needs to be more at the school to help empower and support the girls and how she has been feeling stuck with how to do so. I suggested a GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) club so we are going to try to work together to form one and maybe use some of the PACT students to help with that. I'm really stoked about all of this. I know that I'm not going to save the world here, but it is nice to feel like there are some things that I can do, even if they are small, and working with kids is right up my ally.
When I was walking home from the S&CD office at the end of the day I saw a couple of students from the JSS who were there when I introduced myself to the entire student body a couple of weeks ago and asked "Neo, when are you coming back to talk to us?", and it made me smile when I could tell them that I would be back soon.