I took these pictures today! So I put them here simply to share before I begin my blog update.
Today was productive, yet funny as well. I believe that I have mentioned it before, but Yaktrax are provided to all us volunteers since we are an investment of the American people, and they care about us. I've been using my pair a lot, but as the snow has melted some, today I left without them. Mistake. My road connects with the main road with a quick uphill spot, and it is here I ran into trouble.
As I made my way half way up this short hill that is a sheet of solid ice, I realized I had no traction. I fell down face first on all fours scrambling to get my balance and stand up. It was comical to say the least. On the main road watching me were two women watching and laughing hysterically, along with a neighbor of mine Iurie. Recognizing my audience I became more nervous and said "I don't know what to do!" in Romanian. The women continued to laugh while I was slipping all over the place loosing ground downhill. The women could not keep their composure while laughing hiding their smiles and turning away from me. At one point I stopped trying because I was stuck in one spot and didn't know what to do. I was like a lost puppy that didn't know what to do.
Using my humiliation as fuel, somehow, I made it to the top of the ice sheet with both fists above my head in celebration, and a face of embarrassment. The two women were trying not to laugh as I met them there, but they couldn't help it. All I could manage to do was laugh and say, "I didn't have traction!" I then joined my neighbor Iurie into the valley towards work.
Oh work (sigh). It is going well, but slow. We are slowly including more and more people in our meetings to have more community involvement, which is ideal. I sometimes guide meetings with activities like today for instance. I had written on a big piece of butcher paper linked questions which produced better strategic planning. What is tough is when we've decided on a goal, and then somebody gets on something completely unrelated to the goal, and I have to ask where the connection exists.
So what we are working on? I think I have mentioned it to a lot of you all (friends) but I should put it here anyway. In a nutshell - In Moldova there are a lot of middle aged people working abroad in other countries, and because of this the parents often leave their children with one parent or with grandparents to live. This is an interesting problem because they are often shielded from poverty, yet develop other socially vulnerable problems. No guidance from parents, forced to grow up too fast with responsibilities, and so on many teens act out in different ways. So it is this target group we have decided to focus on. We think that our role can be to promote communication between parents and these children to improve and preserve their relationship. We think that we can achieve this goal through four objectives. These would be providing Skype time to children in our village to call parents, a psychologist to discuss the issue, information and resources that exist in Moldova for parents and children, and provide activities which produce materials to send such as letters, drawings, and photos, thus improving communication with between parents and children. It is a beginning, and we are planning best we can before applying for grants.
Another side project that I have started to explore is the weight room beneath the high school. I hope that we can work with community members to plan, then apply for a grant which would provide more weights and equiptment, do some repairs, and establish a more strongly organized program there. This is just in the beginning and I will be discussing with the main guy next week.
I personally have been busy in this weight room lifting weights three times a week. I am glad that I found it because I have been making some friends and staying in decent shape. There have been a couple of funny stories in the weight room. One would be the main guy there who is training me Vasile telling me that my calf muscles are small, and asking me if I want to grow them. The other was when I was resting in between sets and I made eye-contact with a guy my age who is in really good shape. I was resting and said "I don't know what to do (nu ştiu ce să fac)." He responded by pointing at his bicep, looking at me, and saying "weak (slab)." I did not take it too personally, I laughed, and then went to do some curls. It has been cool to hang out there and lift weights with guys from my community because they are dedicated to something regular, and therefore in my opinion take life seriously.
So again, to sandwich this blog post let us end where we started. That damn ice slope Winter Olympics 2010 patch. As I returned from work to that spot with a smile I was thinking, dang, I am going to fall on my face. And I saw a woman on the bottom part, while I was at the top. I paused, and said to her, "I fell down here this morning," and she said "me too." Then she said, "here, use this fence," as she shimmed up. I smiled, and when she reached me she helped as I began shimmying down by saying "take my hand." I hopped over, took her hand, and made my way to my house. It was awesome to see a complete stranger help me out, but it was even funnier to think that my day ended where it began.