Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Body art and beach cleanups

For those of you who do not have a Facebook account or have not yet heard about my most recent venture, I got inked. AKA my first tattoo. I drew the design up months ago, and my Filipino friend and local tattoo artist Nico produced the finished product.

Nico hard at work. No pain no gain

The finished product, slightly red and swollen

For me, the tattoo symbolizes spirituality, family, growth and maturity, the Philippines and Peace Corps, and my winding camino

I was meaning to get the tattoo to mark my 1 year of service, but once again, July came and went before I knew it. Another month in the books. Hard to believe summer is dwindling down in the states and soon, kids will be heading back to school and snow will be on the ground (I know, I know...not what you want to think about right now. But I miss the snow!). With all the extreme weather I've heard about back home, the sporadic weather patterns have returned here in Bicol as well. Of course, that means rain. Thankfully, my new co-workers, counterparts, and I have been hard at work these past few weeks, allowing little downtime or boredom (except during brownouts :)) Today was the second of two coastal cleanups I have organized in local barangays this past week, and I recently received word that a third barangay is interested in having one in the upcoming weeks. These activities are great because they encourage community initiative and collaboration, while also promoting environmental awareness and solid waste management. Additionally, we will also be implementing the new municipal fisherfolk registration system (FishR) in Tabaco over the next few weeks. Feels good to be delegated more responsibility and given a chance to spearhead a lot of these activities. My new counterparts at the NGO (WWF - World Wildlife Fund) and the LGU have been very supportive and motivated, a drastic change from a few months ago.

Kids love to join in and lend a helping hand

My new LGU counterpart Louie giving a post-cleanup talk to students from a barangay high school

With a new batch of volunteers here, I am no longer one of the "new kids on the block." I've heard that this portion of service (between the 1 year mark and Mid-Service Training in October) is often the hardest for volunteers because we have reached the 1 year mark, volunteers question their work and impact so far, and the attention is now off of us and on the new trainees. But personally, I couldn't be happier with where things are at right now (despite this multi-day brownout that we have going on right now...I'm currently tapping into a food court's electricity). I'll be heading back to my training site in Bataan this weekend with Russ to visit our old host families, while hoping to share some volunteer wisdom and positive vibes with the new CRMers!

My new favorite Tagalog word: swabe (pronounced swah-bay) = smooth

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