A Little “Peace” of Heaven: Projects and Powder

March 1-7 is Peace Corps Week. The Third Goal of Peace Corps is for volunteers to share their experiences after service. I’ve decided to post excerpts of emails I sent to family and friends during my life in Suriname (2004-06). Here is the 3rd of 7 posts related to my Third Goal:

March 22, 2005

IICA

Work at IICA has been progressing and more interesting. I’m teaching my counterpart friend Leo how to type. He’s been typing with two fingers all is life, so now typing like I was taught seems actually kind of fun for him. I hope he continues it after I leave.

Leo, rural development coordinator at IICA ~ Always hand-wrote all his reports

The first installment of the vegetable CD, which is about growing tomatoes, is about 99 percent done. After much pressure from placed by me on L.V.V. (Ministry of Agriculture) and EDUCONS, the project is near completion. It’s a lot more kid-friendly with a tomato cartoon and a lot more clear.

A presentation of the tomato CD at the Agrofair in Paramaribo

AIDS project

…I wanted to build upon what I’d been working on at IICA. I’m trying to get EDUCONS and Stitching Mamio to join forces and design an educational awareness CD for kids to show in schools, similar to the vegetable project EDUCONS is doing with L.V.V. I’ve already gotten verbal support of the project from Mamio and from the EDUCONS computer multi-media guy who would actually do the designing of the CD. The next part is to see if and how it can be funded. I suspect that will be challenging, especially since funding for both organizations is quite limited. …And I quickly learned that any project that would consist of trying to combat the discrimination associated with AIDS will be an uphill battle with Mamio, which is reluctant to try anything that could potentially risk a person’s status being known to family/friends. AIDS unfortunately is still a very tight-lipped disease among Surinamese.

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April 11, 2005

Paghwa 2005

The weekend of Easter, was also the same time as Paghwa, the Hindu holiday that celebrates the onset of spring and the Hindu New Year. On the Hindu calendar it is 2062. The greeting for Paghwa is “Subh Holi”, and it’s quite a celebration unlike any other I’ve experienced…

Mrs. Soekhai

We were greeted by Mrs. Soekhai by her rubbing Paghwa Powder all over our faces and hair. Paghwa Powder is none other than baby powder with food coloring, at least that’s what it feels like, and it comes in all sorts of colors — green, orange, yellow, pink are the most common colors. We stopped at the Soekhais home where we were treated with traditional Indian-type snacks…it was all delicious. We took photos, talked and then went to another home belonging to the Soekhai family — they are a large family, so much so I couldn’t tell you how many kids they have. This includes in-laws, nieces, nephews … they all live very close to each other. Again, we were greeted by people putting powder all over our faces and saying “Subh Holi” repeatedly. By this time, we were all quite colorful looking. We decided to buy some powder ourselves and stopped at a local winkel (store) to buy a bottle for each of us.

me and fellow Sur10's Kellie at Paghwa in the Commewijne District, across the river from Paramaribo

We hadn’t really put powder on ourselves, so that’s exactly what we did. We didn’t just put powder on each other, we took it to another level, by “decorating” each other with powder, by giving each other a dominant color and then sprinkling it with other colors.

A splattering of Paghwa powder for Sur10's Andrew

Just as we were debating whether to return to Kellie’s house, the Soekhais and their friends – probably about 25 to 30 people – showed up at the back of the bar where the music was cranked up. By this time night had fallen and the lights in the back of the bar, which was under a canopy of zinc, were lit up. People started dancing and tossing/pouring powder into everyone else’s faces. We all did that. It seemed crazy to not be on the dance floor without the powder. It was quite wild. During some point in the evening, some of the Soekhais starting slapping wet powder on our faces, which Kellie and Andrew said was masala. It got rather crazy, and luckily I had my glasses to protect me, but a few of us got powder in our eyes, but thankfully no harm was done. After several hours, we were all painted up — our faces, our hair, our clothes. All the bottles of powder we had purchased and grabbed from other people were all empty. We were finally ready to go back and got a ride home. I have to say it was probably one of the most fun, if not the best, fun I’d had in Suriname.

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If you’re just catching up, check out the posts from Monday and Tuesday.


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About accentphoto
Accent Photographics specializes in on-location baby, children and family photography, and special-event photography of weddings in eastern

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