Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Season's Greetings

Can't think of a gift to give this holiday season? Donate to my local water and sanitation project! 

Peresecina Public Bathroom Project - Moldova

Peresecina Public Bathroom Project - MoldovaLocation
Peresecina, Orhei, Moldova
Community Description
The village of Peresecina is nestled between the municipality capital, Orhei, and the capital city of Moldova, Chisinau. The community is deemed by many citizens of Moldova as “the biggest village in Moldova,” boasting (on paper) approximately 8,000 inhabitants.
The reality is that many of the community members between the ages of 20 and 50 are living and working abroad in order to provide for their families in Moldova. The majority of inhabitants left in Peresecina work in either Chisinau or Orhei. Very few find work locally unless they are teachers or local government employees.
Peresecina Public Bathroom Project - MoldovaThe community’s main economy is agriculture, boasting a mushroom factory and agricultural cooperative which provides services and supplies to local farmers. The other major businesses consist primarily of small stores along the road which connects Orhei to Chisinau.
Aside from the main highway, the infrastructure consists of washed-out dirt roads and unreliable electricity. It is surprising however with all of these negative factors, the people of Peresecina are very happy, hospitable and open to new ideas.
There is a public office building, used as a building for several public and private organizations and businesses, occupied by 25 employees who service an average of 1,000 people per month. Activities include meetings for several clubs, community meetings, and seminars.
Peresecina Public Bathroom Project - MoldovaThe nearest bathroom facility, an existing outhouse located a 15-minute-walk away, is shared by an auto repair shop, and all of the offices in the building. It is located inside a locked fence and during the winter months this can be extremely challenging as it is up hill, through brush and mounds of unused sand, dirt and stone from the nearby construction site. There is also a large dog that guards the area and if someone is not there to chain the dog and unlock the fence the bathroom cannot be used.
Project Description
This project is to construct a community bathroom in a public building in Peresecina. The bathroom will be located in a building next to the mayor's office, attached to the post office and situated in the middle of town. The building houses the gas office, where all patrons must go to pay their bills, the public library, a second-hand clothing store, a hair salon, an agricultural extension organization/business information center, and an agricultural store.
Every Sunday the local outdoor market where farmers go to sell their harvests occur directly outside of this building. In the hallway outside of the agricultural organization's office there is a location where running water can be hooked up. There is a well with a generator outside the building to the west, and a link to the waste water collection/sewer system that the mayor's office is connected to.
This bathroom will essentially be connected to already existing fresh and waste water systems from within the hallway of a building. Three walls will be built around the bathroom to enclose it, with only enough room for a sink and a toilet.
Piping from the well into the building and from the toilet and sink out to the waste water collection tank (which is then dumped and taken to the waste water collection plant near the capital city of Moldova about 30 minutes away) will be purchased and installed.
Project funds will be used to purchase the sink, toilet, piping, wood and drywall for building walls, tiling for the floors and walls, toilet paper, hand soap, and a door.
A local carpenter and plumber will complete the project on a volunteer basis (as he is frequently in town and often having to relieve himself in the field).
Project Impact
The project will benefit the 25 people employed in the building, the 1,000 people per month who use the services, and possibly an equal number of people who visit the market.
Peace Corps Volunteer Directing Project
Emily Getty
This bathroom provides critical services for employees in the public building, along with people who visit the building for services, to attend the market, or patronize the stores in the center of town. It will greatly improve the sanitation and hygiene of the community, decreasing illness and providing comfort to the people.
Dollar Amount of Project
Donations Collected to Date
Donations of any amount will be appreciated. The full amount will give you "naming rights", if that is something you would like.
Any contributions in excess of the Dollar Amount of Project will be allocated to other projects directed by this PCV and/or projects of other PCVs in this country.
Dollar Amount Needed

To donate CLICK HERE

Monday, November 14, 2011


 Today was a bit of an oddity (which is a bit of a  redundant expression here in Moldova).  I spent this morning with a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer's girlfriend.  Her name is Irina and she has become a bit of a staple in our group of friends.  Jobless and with no prospects of meaningful work in the near future, Irina began looking for inspiration from her environment and she found it.
I met Irina yesterday to make some connections and plan for today.  Although she kept saying she needed my help... all she really needed was reassurance.  She had not only created a plan but also came up with the idea all by herself.
We met on Sunday at the Peace Corps Office, made some copies of a list of questions (mainly just for reference) and we set off to the "Unauthorized or Illegal Market" (often referred to as the Soviet Piata near the train station).  Her brother borrowed a video camera from a friend and the interviewing, explaining, sharing, storytelling began. 

Irina wanted to document the stories of the retirees or pensioners that sell their housewares daily at this market in order to just make ends meet.  The women we had spoken to the day before had their faces all done up, dressed in their finest winter ware they were ready to chat with us.  With her brother behind the lens, Irina took to asking questions like a professional.  Smiling, encouraging our old lady friends to share some of their most intimate opinions, fears and financial information with us.
Irina has this way about her.  She finds art and beauty in things that most people consider to be eye sores.  Standing there watching them (Irina and her brother) work together to document the stories of these poor people was truly amazing.
After we all parted ways at the end of a days worth of filming, I began to think about how all of us humans.  We are all consumers.  We facilitate and create the cycle that is capitalism.  We demand products, quality products and when we are done with these things where do they go?  The system is always making more products, more things for us to consume.  We are always buying new... but where does all the old stuff go?  At what point will our production reach saturation.  When we all are satisfied with the "stuff" we have accumulated? 
As I walked around that market, I kept thinking to myself that one person's trash is another person's treasure but at what point does that idiom stop being true?  Used goods and markets like these make me think of accumulating wealth and economies of scale (I know, I'm not as artistic as Irina) and I began to dream of a world where a complete redistribution of wealth, accumulated material items and everything occurs.  How would our socioeconomic lives be different if that occurred?  I am not talking about communism or socialism because in both of these cases the government "has more" whether it be power or control and the people "have less."  What I am talking about is a sort of utopia.

Anyway, I also started thinking about types of products.  How food is the one product that is consumed and can't be sold "second hand."  It is either eaten, stored for winter or breaks down into organic material and nourishes the crops for next year.  It seems that the only industry with a need for endless supply and efficiency is food and crop production.  Just some thoughts from a day with a friend.
I hope that my friend Irina keeps inspiring people to tell their stories.  She reminds me of Edie Sedgwick (minus the tragic story and drug problems), the way she looks at the world as such a gloriously fun place to be and seeks joy and beauty even in the saddest of situations.  I encourage all of you to watch the movie Factory Girl... if you haven't already.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Peresecina Public Bathroom Project

Hello Friends, Family, Colleagues: I am asking for your help to raise money for a project with Appropriate Projects Water Charity to build a public bathroom in my office building! You can donate here! http://appropriateprojects.com/node/894

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

From goats to heated blankets... boyfriends in Moldova.

Explaining to the vast majority of Moldova men, women and children that I am 25, without children and unwed can be a difficult task.
In this country and culture where one of the most treasured (and expensive) moments for a family is the marriage of their child, the buying (or more often building) of a house and arrival of grandchildren on the scene.  It is part of what keeps Moldovans happy.  Part of what they live for are the celebrations in their lives.  The fact that I willingly am rejecting celebrating those things in my life is extremely puzzling to them.  It's not as though I am against marriage... if you love someone and wish to consummate that love under religious law that is fine.  If you invite me I will even attend to help you celebrate the union between you and your new spouse.  My personal beliefs aside, in order for me to answer the constant questions regarding my ring-less finger or empty baby-bearing hips is to make it humorous. 

First my partner had baby goats born; two boys and two girls.  She let me name them all "American names" Billy Boy, Brownie, Daisy and Cinnamon... which was quite an honor as Moldovans typically name the animals based on the day of the week they were born.  Regardless, I started telling everyone in town that I had a boyfriend, his name was Billy, and he was goat.  For a while the questions subsided about my state as a single woman as did the suggestions for me to marry every older woman's single son "about my age."  I thought I was in the clear until we ate him for Easter.  Then I had to explain that my boyfried was deceased but was also delicious. 

My second and still current relationship is with "the road."  It's hard to explain that rather than settling down I want to travel the world.  See the Great Wall of China, cross the Bering Strait, eat sushi in Japan, dance with the tribes of Sub-Saharan Africa and go sailing in the Caribbean.  I must tell a lot of people about this boyfriend because even the Priest in my town knows about him.  He came to bless our house and when he was throwing the water all of my room and drawing the cross with oil on the wall he kept saying "This is for Emily and her road." Here is the deal, I haven't seen the whole world so how can I know where I would want to settle down?  I also don't think I've met the love of my life yet and so how could I even think of settling for anything less?  So my relationship with "the road" will probably be a marriage for life... which is fine but then came along this hot Turkish guy...

With winter coming my host mom and I set out to find a heated mattress pad for my bed.  She was convinced we had to buy a Russian-made one but all we could find at the market was Chinese or Turkish brands.  She decided I should buy the Turkish one.  The first night I turned it on she came to get me for dinner and I told her I didn't want to leave my new boyfriend.  As I was on my computer she said... "Oh can I see him are you skyping with him?"  My response?  "No of course not Zina... I'm sitting on him!!!  This heated Turkish mattress pad is my new boyfriend.  He's hot and sleeps with me all night."  She and I giggled and then we went to tell my host dad who roared with laughter. 

It is the little things that get you through living in a new culture.  When the redundancy of questions start to get to you just turn them into a joke or ask the same question to them.  It's important to share culture but it's also important to respect the cultural customs and beliefs of others. Sarcasm and humor are sometimes hard to communicate but when you do get through be ready to share a beautiful moment of laughter (the one universal communication medium for happiness).  I know that my ramblings are only from one perspective, I am sure that the married couples and single men or married persons who left their spouses at home are all asked different and interesting questions but this is just about me and how I have chosen to deal with culture clash in my village.  Now if you will excuse me there is a Turkish guy warming up in my bed...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A jog down memory lane...

So I've been seeing a lot of interesting things on my runs lately through the hills and valleys around my house.  The problem is I don't run with my camera and so the scenes that pass me by and visions that take my breath away, I can not capture for all of you.  Let me paint you a picture from yesterday's run.

I ran to the lake that is about 3Km away from my house and then ran around the lake to take in all the sights, smells and greet the fishermen hanging out on the shore... waiting for the days catch.  As I rounded the end of the lake and made it to the other side where the little villas are all stacked on top of each other (like a Moldovan gated community)... the geese run from my path, roosters perk there heads and crow at me, men stare and skip a puff of their cigarette - shocked by my spandex shorts and I smile and wave (stupid American).  Then I see this red car slowly making it's way down the road.  It stops abruptly and I wonder if its overflowing with teenage boys up to no good or an old man who missed the clutch.  Then as the car and I approach each other the abrupt halt is clear.  In the drivers seat is a young girl wearing bright shorts and a tank top with curly blond hair and blue eyes. With a look of worry in her eyes.  In the passenger seat is an older man with white hair, wrinkled and worn tan skin wearing a linen short sleeve dress shirt.  He is thin except for his large belly that juts out in front like a pregnant lady. I smile and wave.  And as they pass by me I stop and turn to watch the old man continue lecturing the young girl and helping her shift the lada into a lower gear.  Surround the dirt road are fields of sunflowers, corn and grass, willow trees, a lake in the distance and few country homes.  As I watch them slowly drive off into the distance the whole scene changes.  It's no longer an old Russian red lada but an orange Volkswagen beetle.  The young girl is me 15 years ago.  We aren't on a road but a path along the hedgerow in an alfalfa field that my dad has just cut with the mower.  The man to my right is my grandfather, Norman and he's not lecturing but rather watching me try to figure it all out myself.  He then gives me pointers when I look up at him with earnest blue eyes and my pin straight bobbed blond hair.  He's telling me how different is to drive a car than a tractor and how much more efficient a standard or stick shift car is than automatic. Once we reach the path in the woods we park and walk through the woods.  He points to a jack-in-the-pulpit and tells me these flowers are endangered and shows me the protective shield he made for the frosts. We then walk further into the woods where he has planted blue spruce and evergreen trees of every sort. He says one day we can use them for our Christmas tree. Then I snap out of my trip down memory lane.  Watch the red lada drive down towards the lake and I turn and continue my jog up and out of the valley back to my village.

I miss my grampa.  He was truly an altruistic man.  I just wish I could converse with him now.  About the world today... my life... my thoughts on various topics.  He continues to influence my decisions and ideas so in a way I guess he lives on through me. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Folkloric Competition Orhei: Bastina

This is the video of the local Folkloric group competition in the municipality center of Orhei.  This video is of the Folkloric Group, Bastina from my village and their performance at the competition.  The word Bastina (Bah-shtee-nah) means motherland or homeland.

Completing the Third Goal

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps to promote world peace and friendship.
The Peace Corps' mission has three simple goals:
  1. Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
  2. Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
  3. Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans
As a Peace Corps volunteer one of our three goals is to bring our host country's culture back to the United States of America to share with our family and friends.  One way to do this is to present at a local high school while you are vacationing or visiting the USA.  Here is my presentation that I gave to a 9th grade AP History class in Hudson Falls, New York, USA.

Goat Herdin' 2 (USA version)

Same video as Goat Herdin' 1 with better background music.

After a weekend filled with gorging ourselves at Easter celebrations, Emily and I decided to take a walk around her village of Peresecina for some exercise. We eventually found ourselves walking along a path discussing very important matters, such as the name of the strange bugs that kept buzzing around our heads, when we stumbled upon a herd of goats and their very enthusiastic shepherd. The shepherd was in a very festive mood and happy to meet the two of us and our camera. It was a few hours before the goats needed to be taken home but the shepherd allowed us to help him bring in the herd of goats immediately. Our job was to walk behind the herd and say "nya" at the goats so that they would continue to walk. Along the way we picked up some more help from some of the village boys and girls who were very curious as to why we were helping with the goats. We arrived at the "pick up zone," where the villagers take their respective goats from the herd and lead them home. Although we were about an hour early and anticipating a goat stampede, we were surprised to find the villagers gathering their goats with minimal chaos. Once the goats were all safely on their way home and we promised the shepherd repeatedly to bring him the photographs of our hard work, it was time for us, the newest shepherds of Peresecina, to put to rest our amateur herding staffs, wash the goat manure from our feet and come to the realization that we are just not cut out for this line of work.

What my host family means to me...

Host families are a big part of our lives here in Peace Corps Moldova.  Fun fact: not every peace corps country utilizes host families and I think this is actually a huge positive part of being a volunteer here in Moldova.  My host family is more than a family.  My host family members are my friends, my link to the community, my sounding board, my support and everything in between.  Having a great host family can make your service in Peace Corps an amazing experience.  That add depth, laughter, and love to your time living in another country.

This slide show was made for the families that will be hosting the new volunteers that arrived in June. This was playing in the background while we talked about the importance of a host family as a key tool for community integration, cultural education, and friendship in a strange new country.