School is nearing the end of it’s first month. My shqip is slowly progressing. The weather is no longer scorching hot. New goodies are landing on the tables of the farmer’s market. And to top it off, I had a somewhat successful day at work.
There is a health calendar in Albania. There are days that pinpoint the different issues associated with health problems in the country. It is a vague calendar that some offices rely on for their work days. Volunteers tend to look at the calendar differently. Let’s just say, there is room for improvement. I work in the health education and promotion department in the health center. They are in charge of educating the community and surrounding villages. I love my coworkers and I think they are fabulous people, but I am hoping to leave them and the office a little different two years down the road.
This last week there was a day devoted to educating people about contraceptives. My coworkers and I lined up a morning education session at a factory on the outskirts of Permet. I sit in an office full of brochures and posters. They may be old but they get the job done, especially when you consider we could be doing this without any materials.
I arrived at work and we were set to have a car take us to the factory at 8:30. Well, true to Albanian style, we were still there at quarter to ten. No worries though, that time was well spent. A new group of ladies piled into my office and proceeded to test my shqip skills and compare me to previous volunteers. When I say test I actually mean test. They wanted to see how much I could speak shot questions at me from every angle of the room. Take it from me, goooooood times. 😉 Once ten am rolled around we decided to walk to the factory. A decision I was in favor of since it was a gorgeous fall day.
Here is a little secret for you about this little walk. I had absolutely no idea where we were going. My coworkers and I had talked about going to talk to people about contraceptives with a group of women. I understood that. But she kept repeating the word for where we were going. I wrote it down, looked it up, and googled it. I couldn’t figure it out. I concluded that we were probably going to the women’s clinic attached to the hospital and I there would be younger women and new moms. That was not correct. The name she kept repeating meant the name for the factory. Full of older women who, if I had to guess, did not need a speech on birth control. A speech on menopause might have been more appropriate. I guess I learn something new everyday.
While we waited for the women to go on break I found the Albanian version of my neice. Don’t let the fake sword scare you. She was quite addicting in person.
The women piled outside for their break once the bell rang.
We handed out information pamphlets and talked to the women during their break. My coworkers informed me the day before that they wanted me to give me a speech. I spent the afternoon putting together a power point and printed some pamphlets on the different topics having to do with contraception. Leaving my main source of information on my computer was a bad omen. My computer decided to not work when I tried to open the power point. Of course that would happen. A mental note was taken and instead we took turns talking to the women about the information in the pamphlet. It was my first “speech” in albanian and not going to lie, I got a little nervous and may have froze up. My speech was a little shorter than my coworkers. In my defense I think my coworker was just shooting the breeze with these women. About half the time I am with her, she talks too fast for me to completely understand.
The women all seemed thankful for our presentation and asked quite a few questions. Even though it wasn’t exactly what I had envisioned, I’d like to think it was a success. I learned a lot from this little outing. I was able to make a few new connections and met some more faces in my community. Which, in reality, is all I am hoping for at this point in time.
I am continuing to work on my shqip and, in turn, will open new lines of communication. According to my office, my language abilities are getting much better. Not a terrible compliment to hear for a Monday morning! We are heading to the school this next week to meet with the director and line up some activities with him. At least I know my target audience for this next trip. That’s a step in the right direction.
Fall is here. I can finally sleep with a blanket instead of sprawling out in front of my fan. It’s cooled down enough to start cooking. If you can’t tell, I’m a natural born foodie. Which is why I will end this post with pictures of the delicious food I have made thus far.