Our First Peace Corps Samoa Experience

'Ou te alu e fasipei le namu uma i Samoa!

When we first thought about volunteering for the Peace Corps it was all fire and brimstone. Images of mud huts, in 100+°F, ROUSes, constant sickness with even more common death from starvation, malaria, and AIDS, combined with a corrupt government that quietly rules the country with a tight fist filled our thoughts concerning Peace Corps service. Amazingly, enough it turns out that not all Peace Corps experiences are like that. Our experience has been filled with small furry things

Can he hold anymore?!

, easy access to fresh produce, well-stocked stores in the city . . . and a tropical paradise island. Sure, we live in a grass roof cottage that has some bugs, but it also has electricity, appliances, curtains, a queen-size mosquito net, and Internet. The only difference from my teaching experience last year in NYC to this one is that here it is warm, there is a nicer beach, and there is little need to lock the door… that is if you have a door in the first place.

Vegan Chocolate Avocado Cake!

Lets rewind to Mothers’ Day. Karen and I (mostly Karen) made a cake for Lusia. It is not uncommon for the water to go out, and since it had rained the day before no one was surprised. Garbage often washes into the pipes and clogs them up after/during rain. The people on our road spent about 1-½ weeks digging up joints in the water system along the road trying to find the blockage. Occasionally, we would get a small trickle, but the problem was not solved. At this point, Karen and I had to go to Apia for our Early Service Conference, which lasted 9 days. We went home only to find out that the water was still not working. Karen made a call to the Samoa Water Authority – and this is what we found out. Three weeks ago, the water authority turned off the water to every village in our district. They want everyone to go to the city, file an application for metered water, pay an installation and application fee, and then pay monthly bills for water. Fair enough, says you; nobody told us, says I. After speaking to our family, we visited some people in the village who work for the Samoa Water Authority. They had no knowledge of this happening. When I went to the main office to file an application, THEY had no knowledge of this happening. The representative to our region insists that ads were run on the radio and television, yet somehow no one in our entire district heard or saw it. The Samoa Water Authority wants $20 as an application/survey fee, and then $200 to install the meter. While our village has yet to have their monthly meeting where they will discuss this matter, it seems like they are going to fight the government on this issue as the water source, tank, and facilities in general are all on village land. For the time being we are going to play the SWA game and file an application for metered water as it is a good idea in the long run. However, you have to tell the people you are going to do this to BEFORE you do it. This has been the first event in Samoa that has made us drastically change our life style. We can get water and the walk isn’t very far, maybe a ¼ mile at best. On the bright side, we are getting a bit more exercise carrying 5 gallon buckets back and forth.

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5 Responses to Our First Peace Corps Samoa Experience

  1. thecandle2 says:

    Great picture of you with your babies! 3 puppies and 1 kitten? I’m not surprised that the kitten has chosen the high ground.

    Has your water been turned back on yet? I can’t imagine not having running water.

    I figured out the margin thing for my websites this morning. Take a look. I’m quite please.

  2. Jay Clark says:

    Hi from Las Vegas,

    You guys probably never heard of me, but I am one of Karen’s great-uncles (Her grandma Barb’s younger brother). Karen’s aunt Deb gave me the link to your blog and of course I signed up for it.

    Just wanted to say that I respect and admire what you are doing, I think it is good for the folks you are serving, good for you personally, and good for the USA.

    I think it is good for the country on a couple of levels. Obviously the US benefits from the services you provide, but to me (more importantly) I think that your service will end up making you better informed and more thoughtful citizens.

    I worked outside the US for 25 years (year I am Aunt Deb’s crazy uncle), and I think the experience makes it possible for me to consider things from a much different prospective than most.

    I maintain a site for the Clark’s, Vince’s, Corey’s, Bernard’s, and all the kids, grandkids, great-grandkids, and pretty soon I am sure we will have some great-great-grandkids logged in. http://www.hobbitsworld.com/SMF/ if you want an account or to be added to the mailing list drop me a line.

    Vegas Jay

  3. Tom Corey says:

    Just like hauling 5 gallon buckets to my chickens!

  4. Andre Nacmanie says:

    seems like old school palm greasing.

  5. Lawrence F. Lihosit says:

    It’s never too early to think about the Third Goal.

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