Thursday, May 15, 2008

My Site

I've been given my final site assignment. I will be in the Zagora region of southeast Morocco - not terribly far from the Algerian border. I think it is officially part of the Sahara. It is definitely desert there, at any rate! Most people in my stage were really glad not to be assigned there, but I'm really excited. The desert has a really distinct beauty that I've always been really drawn to.

As for my village... it's fairly isolated. It will take me two hours (on a good day) to get to my nearest town with internet and a grocery store. (Read: updates will be sporadic!) Because it's so isolated, a lot of the community has intermarried, causing a good deal of health problems from generations of people marrying first cousins. I don't know yet whether or not this will be something I can address as a health volunteer, though.

My work in the site is probably going to start with the water supply. I was really sick when I visited there for the first time. I didn't figure out why until I realized that my family was drinking water from an open-air cistern with contaminants openly floating in it. Protecting and treating water sources is definitely priority Numero Uno.

The rest of my work there will be rather unstructured. I officially work in the local clinic, but there is no doctor and only one nurse who works there, and he is rarely in the clinic at all. When I first met him he told me how much he hates my village and doesn't want to be there. Which, I gather, is a sentiment held by most government employees sent to the region.

The challenges don't stop there, but that will be subject matter for later posts. There are some perks. My host family there are really, really nice people. They have hosted a volunteer before, so they know about Americans and our weird ways and are really sensitive to my vegetarianism. I have an oasis just outside my site with really deep water and you can jump off the rocks into it. Nearby is a naturally sparkling spring. (side note: I was not aware that this actually happened - bubbly water from the GROUND?! Who knew??)

So, overall, it is going to be a difficult two years and lots of hard work. But as I keep telling people, I didn't come here to join the Vacation Corps - I knew it would be challenging and I knew what I was getting myself into. I would have been disappointed with anything less.

In other news, I passed my language exam and in only a matter of days will be swearing in to be a Peace Corps volunteer. Wow, three months went by quickly!

Until next time,


Nichole said...

How exciting! I wish the best for you!

smtigg said...

Hi Mel!

My name is Samantha, and I'm one of the current volunteers in Zagora. I wanted to get in contact with you because one of my personal projects before COS in the spring is to create a resource guide of previous peace corps volunteers from the region. Something that can be passed down on a local level, not necessarily through Rabat. PC doesn't have the best track record for institutional memory... If you get this, please write me back at

Look forward to hearing from you,