My first two weeks of community entry were the most difficult because I felt like I had lost my identity. I didn't have my friends to help confirm who I am. I didn't have them there to laugh with, talk with or cry and complain with. I had to learn how to do this on my own. There really isn't anyone to turn to in those instances.
I have become very strong over the past several weeks. But, I have also made some new friends and these new friends are from a different culture from my own. We eat different foods, have different worldviews and beliefs. Zambians have a difficult time comprehending divorce and how a woman can get by on her own. Also, they are perplexed with how I am able to live apart from my children. Zambians have very tights bonds not only with their immediate family, but with extended family members. They find it very odd that I only have two cousins and I have only met them once.
But Zambians are accepting people. My host family has made it clear to me that I am a part of the family. And I really am. I feel very welcome going over to their house. I go over almost every evening to eat dinner with them. I feel as though I have known these people all of my life. I come over and plop down on the couch and watch television with them. Yes, they have electricity which I don't have even though I only live about 100 meters away. But, anyway, I like this family and I am growing to love them.
Once community entry ends I should be well integrated in the community. I will begin my work as a forestry extension agent helping the community members understand how they can improve their farming techniques and improve their lives in many different ways. I will work with people individually and I will hold workshops on malaria prevention and conservation farming. I will be available as a resource to help them acquire seed or obtaining fruit tree seedlings to plant at their homes to help with food security. I may also be able to help guide some of them on how to take on an income generating activity such as bee keeping.
I hope to make some kind of difference in these people's lives. They already are making a difference in mine. I still have two years ahead of me for so much more exposure to a life that is so different from the one I've lived my whole life. I am very thankful for this experience.I am looking forward to see the kind of person I am yet to become.