When was the last time you had your shoes shined while you waited for lunch? How many custom made shirts do you own? Have you even ever had something tailored? Have a butcher? Blacksmith? Leatherworker? Unless you are trapped in a parallel dimension of the 1950’s or have taken the Madmen fan-thing too far, the answer is no. These services, I consider to be arts, arts quickly disappearing in the US. A ‘lack’ of development has allowed these services to not only exist but be essential to Burkina Faso.
“You are here to serve your country, the greatest country on earth. You are here to serve Burkina Faso, to leave your village better than you found it. You are hear to be the best person you can be and to define what exactly that means.” –Soviet Military Doctor turned Peace Corps Doctor.
I was told the above just two days before swearing in to become a Peace Corps volunteer. I wrote it down in my journal promptly afterwards and I now write it here. I regularly return to this quote when I begin get lost in thought, off track of my purpose. I am here to help Banzon, Burkina Faso.
This will mark my first Peace Corps blog post, after being in country for more than four months. It is likely for the better because the first few months can be easily summed up in a few paragraphs. The Peace Corps training method gives you plenty of time to simply exist and come to terms with the reoccurring ‘oh crap I’m in Peace Corps, living in a developing country for the next two years’ moments. I have now come to terms with that fact and I am even excited to face the challenges ahead of me. I have a budding list of potential projects, adequate French competency, an ever-growing understanding of Jula*, and a group of locals that I can honestly consider to be my friends. I have already had a valuable lesson reaffirmed to me since arriving: life is what you make it, start happy to end happy.