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Out of town

October 17, 2012

Last Friday I was talking to a friend, and she asked if I would like to join a small group of people the next day on a day trip to Overbridge. I had heard a number of the PCVs talk about Overbridge but really had no idea what it was. So I said yes, I’d love to go.

As it turns out, Overbridge is on the way to the Jodensavanne. The best way I can describe it is – it is where the old capital of Suriname (Torarica) was and is currently a site where homes are being constructed and there is a beach area (on the river) for people without access to one of the houses. There is a separate small beach area for the people who have the houses.

At overbridge

It is not easy to describe…the beach has structures which people reserve and rent to provide shade. I personally did not go into the water because the level was low and it was kind of dirty because of it. But I did take some photos (of course), and it was nice to relax, have a snack, and enjoy the company I was with – some of the trees there especially were really interesting. So Saturday was a good day.

Monday and yesterday I had the opportunity to go out of town with people who are visiting from the U.S. (for work). It was nice to see Nieuw Nickerie (Monday) and Moengo (yesterday). Peace Corps is no longer in the Nieuw Nickerie area, but there is a lot of work being done there by some interesting organizations. It never ceases to amaze me, how motivated people are to improve the lives not only of themselves, but of others. One man with whom we met was from the Netherlands, and pretty much retired here, then moved to Nieuw Nickerie to work with at-risk populations because at the time, no one else was doing so. His organization has teamed with two others to form one larger organization, and is doing some really good work.

Nieuw Nickerie is four hours one-way by car from Paramaribo, so of course, during the eight hours we spent on the road, I had plenty of time to observe and think. I kept seeing photo opportunities that I wanted to take and share with people, especially people in the U.S., so they can get an idea of how much of the rest of the world lives, while they sit there in their ivory towers and complain about life. I wanted to get some stories of people whose lives have truly been changed because of an opportunity that was presented to them, and to tell the stories of those who feel that their lives have no hope and will never change. I saw a man sitting by the side of the road as we passed and wondered what his story was. I met people who are working against the odds to improve things for the people in their community. And I was once again reminded why I am doing what I am doing, even if others don’t understand. We focus so much on money and material wealth in the U.S., that a person starts to wonder – what about intangible wealth, that which you get from trying to make the world, your community, or wherever, a better place? Why is that so undervalued?

I also had the opportunity to continue to reflect on the personal development I have been working on. It is so easy to turn your back on the unpleasant things you are going through, but I have committed to trying to figure out why I do or say things that get me into trouble, so to speak, and to re-evaluate who I am and how I interact with others. This is not an easy thing to do, and quite often I end up at the point where I say I just don’t understand, and have to accept that.

Again, eight hours in a car is a long time to reflect.

Sculpture in Moengo

Yesterday we went to Moengo, which is not as far (about two hours, on good and not so good roads). Because there were so many of us, I did not have the opportunity to learn as much about the community organizations that are working there, but was able to connect the PCV who lives and works there to the partner org from the US, and she assisted them a great deal in meeting with community organizations.

I had an opportunity to see Moengo and take some photos. They have really interesting art in random places. We also went to a bauxite mine and learned a bit about how much bauxite this company is exporting each week.

I am glad that I had the opportunity to once again step outside myself and outside my small role, and to see the bigger picture of what so many people are working to do. It reminds me that each of us does have an impact, even if we don’t always see what that impact is.

Photos from Overbridge can be found on Picasa.

Photos from Nieuw Nickerie and Moengo can also be found on Picasa.

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