Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I've been busy and a bit merzite lately, which is certainly not the most productive emotional combination. The busy part: I finished my grant proposal (yay!), met all the new volunteers in Elbasan with my fellow gender equity committee members (fun!), and then had some of those new volunteers visit Megan and I this weekend for volunteer visit (and they are AWESOME)...not to mention actually working. Merzite: Moza was fired (and then tentatively, maybe, perhaps, hopefully, rehired?) for political reasons. Also other stupid reasons that I'm not going to blog about, but suffice it to say that they were total utter BS and infuriating and ridiculous. She kept begging me to talk to the director for her, but I thought that would do more harm than good in the long run...and she wouldn't talk to me for over a week. My reasoning was (and still is) that my talking to the director could be seen as a threat - I'm an American and what I say goes! - and he would be even more determined to keep her out due to her ability to "involve the Americans" and the public eye.

(Sucks to suck. The "public eye" got an earful from him recently in a secret expose on abuses of power in D.Sh.P. Lushnje. WHOOPS. Now we're all just waiting with bated breath to see if there's a transition of power.)

But here's a itty bitty photo dump of projects I've been doing with my counterparts recently:

Hand washing activity at the kindergarten!

Lena and the director of a village school demonstrating their superior RBFs.
(That would be resting bitch face, Dad.)

Lena's favorite past time - ordering students around in public. Actually, though, the first aid club did a demonstration of their skills in the park and they did a great job! Except for the fact that they were basically trying to out-perform their friends and the kids crowded around until there was no way for passerbyers (passerbyes? passerbies? idk.) to see what was going on.

Lena organized a breast and cervical cancer presentation with a nurse in one of the villages (Karbunar e vogel). We had 17 women show up...and three reporters, because anything worth doing is worth filming.

Pointing out our video to the reporters after our presentation. Lena loves the spotlight. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Just south of Lushnje is the city of Fier, which is kind of like the capital of our "state" and yes, there are plenty of jokes about the volunteers who live in "Fier/fear." Outside of the city is the ancient Greek city of Apollonia. It was a huge, bustling university city until an earthquake in the 3rd century AD changed the course of the nearby river, plaguing the city with a swamp of mosquitoes and destroying the local harbor trade. It's one of the few very well preserved and presented ancient cites in Albania, and it's estimated that there's an additional 80% of the city underground, waiting to be discovered.

A few weeks ago, some volunteers organized a trek out there and invited Megan and I along. It was a stunning day with awesome people.

Step 1. Pretend pose with a map because you're too awkward to smile at the camera.

Step 2. Pretend to be eaten by a dismembered lion head.

Step 3. Marvel at how lucky you are to have such great friends even though you are a world-class weirdo.

Step 4. Drink a coffee at the top of a hill and watch a shepherd herd sheep because Albania.

All photos stolen from Megan's Facebook.