Thursday, December 24, 2009

view of lesser caucasus from my back balcony

so the city sleeps, Christmas in Mingechevir

Smokey cold washes the low hills
Makes creeping funnels
That swing slowly
With a creak
As they reach my unfinished house

Up high
Partially embedded in sky
The sun can’t reach the river
So the blue washes out
And becomes
Grey today

Huddled in a warm corner
Hugging knees to chest
The electricity is rickety,
But on

Across the whole city
Gas fires burn orange

Rusted roofs disappear
The grey today
Has taken them
And collected them
in one hand
Cupped closed
For warmth

Thursday, December 17, 2009

beast and oscar...sibling love

recent work

sorry the quality of my photos has decreased. because of my slow internet speed i've decreased the value of the photos on my blog in order to upload them.

kitten take over situation

right now i'm watching three cats...and i will be watching three cats until my sitemate andrea returns in early january. it is pretty hilarious having them around. they are damn cute when they want to be. they also produce way too much poop. boy do i miss kitty litter! i have to clean out boxes filled with sandy dirt and crap every other day. but, i guess i'll do anything for love. just a note: the three cats are brothers and sisters...all descendents from my sitemate kim's cat scout. they are generally used to each other and get along. i've got beast, the girl, and andrea has felix and oscar (formally baskin and robbins), the boys.
in other news we received four new sitemates. mingechevir now has 8 americans residing in it. it's nice having all these newbies. i want to start a number of projects and i'm hoping that some of them will join and help me. wish me luck. just to break it down: we have three women, two in their twenties and one who is older...i dont know her age. this latter volunteer has got a treasure trove of experience to pull from and i'm excited to have her here. luckily peace corps azerbaijan gets its fair share of 50 plus volunteers and i love having them as sitemates. when you are stuck in the same small town with someone for a year or two the more stories they have to tell the better. we also got one guy in his twenties. we badly needed a male to help us with all the young males in our community so this is a relief.

new projects i hope to start soon:

community garden project
art mural
some stuff with my host org regarding diversifying funds, etc
build a website for environmental committee
internet course at the IDP school

let's see...what else. well, the other day in an extreme wind storm i thought i might lose an entire wall. that was plenty scary. i have a wall mostly made from wood and glass windows. the whole thing starting leaning inwards towards me in the wind. infact, most of the frames (around windows, doors) got somewhat dislodged in the storm. so i ran around my apartment trying to board up the window/door/wall with wood and nails in hope of saving my wall. of course i had no electricity at the time too. eventually i sat on the ground with hammer, nail, and flashlight in hand just watching the wall, hoping i could stop the boarding process. i'm happy to report i still have a home with all of its walls.

Friday, December 4, 2009

a word about Save the Children and other things I once thought

The other day I traveled to a region called Ismaili to help my good friend move her belongings and to help her organize her living situation. Unfortunately, PCVs are often kicked out of their housing with little notice. In Azerbaijan, it is incredibly weird for PCV females (and males) to live by themselves. In Azerbaijan no one lives alone. No one moves out unless they are married and even then they move into another family's home. The nuclear family structure here is large. So, when PCV females live alone, they seem highly suspicious...we seem like we might be prostitutes. PCVs have asked PC Azerbaijan to change their rules regarding this, but to no avail (PCVs must live alone or with a host family, no exception). So, to make a long story short, my friend ran into housing trouble and I headed north.
On my return to trip to Mingechevir I caught a free ride with Mingechevir employees of Save the Children. I remember, distinctly, my biases against Save the Children while living in the states. I couldn't tell if this organization was legit or not. In NYC, you will often run across canvassers for Save the Children asking you for your money in the name of children. These canvassers always annoyed me for a number of reasons: They tried to make me feel guilty and the only thing they asked for me was money. The latter bothers me because I believe organizers should provide a way for people to help beyond just reaching into their pockets. What if I'm entirely broke, but I want to help? I asked a canvasser this question once and they had no suggestions for me. They had no petition for me to sign, no issue to educate me on, etc. Consequently, I decided Save the Children just wasn't good enough to consider.
Well, I've changed my mind. Save the Children really exists, it really employs HCNs (host country nationals...locals) in developing countries, and it certainly does provide assistance to children. The Save the Children employees I rode home with were returning from an awareness event with Ismaili government authorities regarding children with disabilities. I still think canvassers for Save the Children should diversify, but I was wrong to dismiss the organization entirely.
The things you learn out in never know.