To those of you who are familiar with my brother’s writings I will say: Peace Corps Madagascar is much different than than PC Nicaragua. Peace Corps sets guidelines, but expects PCV’s to be independent and creative. It is the same with different countries: each country that PC is in works under the same goals and guidelines but is expected to be independent and meet the needs and particularities of it’s own culture.
One difference is that Greg left training and arrived in his site to live with a host family until he found a suitable place to live and decided to move out. In Mcar, if the community wants a volunteer, they must provide suitable housing that is pre-approved by PC. Due to PC Mcar’s long history of success, we also enjoy several special privileges, like the Transit Houses located in three of the countries major cities. These used to be standard in PC, but DC has made a rule of shutting them down. They don’t like that we still have them, but we have thus far resisted the pressure to shut down.
I would like to note that the whole country is not as rural and isolated as I will be describing it. There are places where people are well educated (they can even go to French universities if they do well enough on their exams), have running water, couches, even toilets. However, that is not where Peace Corps works. We go into rural areas, where our lives might be a little more difficult, but our work is much more meaningful.
I live in a town of 20,000, I have power, but no running water. My town has one paved road and exists as a gateway for crops to leave the countryside for the larger towns and sometimes export to Europe. As an education volunteer, I live in an area larger than most health and environment volunteers. My job will be to teach English to 6th graders and Juniors, I will have a schedule, goals and reports to write.