This is a guide for my family and friends about my life as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cape Verde, Africa. I teach English as foreign language to high school students in Boa Vista, Cape Verde. Also as a disclaimer, the comments expressed here are solely of the author and do not represent the United States Peace Corps, the American Government, or any other governing body.

Friday, April 27, 2007

15th April 2007

I just wanted to make a note first: I think my last blog might have gone slightly misunderstood. It was not I who was mugged. Two other volunteers were here visiting us for spring break, and they wandered to a part of the beach that is a little more deserted. Two men approached them and demanded their money and bags. They dropped everything and ran. They weren’t hurt, and didn’t lose much, but it was still an unfortunate experience and I’m sorry that it happened on my island, which is usually so safe. They have, however, caught one of the guys after two elderly British tourists were attacked in the same place. It seems that only one of the muggers was there, and pulled out a knife to threaten the tourists. They were willing to oblige, but the mugger made an unfortunate call by holding the knife up to the woman’s neck. The husband lost it and attacked the mugger and knocked him down. He grabbed the knife (that was thankfully dull) and the woman got a slight cut on her face, and the man ended up with cuts on his hand, but between the two of them they knocked the guy down and called the police who caught him. The police here sent our visiting volunteers a photo to identify the guy and it turns out he was the same one. So, well done British tourists! Although, I can’t say that was the smartest move.

Last night Leland and I went to a coworker’s son’s first birthday party. There are four people who work at the Youth Center, not including Leland and I. The woman who now runs it is named Vilma and it was her son’s first birthday. Her second in command, so-to-speak is a Shon who is dating a very nice teacher at my school. We hang out with that couple a lot (you may have seen the photos of us rolling around the desert with them). Then there are two young people who work the internet café mostly: Diva and Johnny. Diva is 19 and, of course, very pregnant. In fact, she’s due next month. I like Diva a lot. She’s very nice, and is fun to talk with about life in general. But I do feel sorry for her, for obvious reasons. She is not married to the father of her (oopsie) baby and she’s only 19. Vilma’s life, on the other hand is the complete opposite. She is in her late 20s, in a pretty solid marriage to a very nice man, and they live in a nice apartment with the cutest little guy for a son. I sat next to Diva at the party as Vilma was showing everyone her son’s baby book. Similar to the one I had when I was a baby, it is full of silly baby statistics, like when he said his first word, what it was, first day and time he walked, rolled over, crawled, etc. It had photographs of the mother, father, and extended family. Diva and I looked through the book together and I thought about the contrast between Diva’s situation and Vilma’s. Vilma went to college, got her degree, had a stable job and husband and then had a child. Diva barely finished high school before she became pregnant with a man who probably will not marry her, and still lives with her parents and works probably very close to minimum wage in a job that she won’t be able to move up in.

Let me back up and clarify for a moment. There is nothing wrong with Diva’s situation, and it happens to women all over the world, in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, worlds, among the rich and poor. Child out of wedlock is nothing new to anyone, nor do I believe that it is by any means a catastrophe in any situation. And I know I have harped on the pregnancy issue in this country already, but just sitting there, with this girl who is my brother’s age looking at the photos and symbolic lifestyle that she probably would never have made me sad. But there’s nothing I can really do about it, maybe that’s the most frustrating part. I just hope that the baby gets a better chance than she had.


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