It all started when I came home on a Monday after school, saying to Will that we really need to give our host mom the envelope of money that was sitting on our dresser since it was already the 3rd of September (we pay her a certain amount each month for food, electricity, etc.). The only problem was, we couldn’t find it. We looked everywhere: our bags, behind the dresser, in the trash, in our bed, under the bed, through our drawers…everywhere. It was gone. When we told our host mother, she suspected it had been stolen. We have no proof of a guilty party, though our host family’s housekeeper has since been replaced.
September 5th was our two year wedding anniversary. We went to school like a normal day, except that I had to train for the long march that was going to be held in our town on that Saturday. With the other teachers we walked about 11 kilometers (~7 miles) in the hot late morning sun. We got back to school around 11am, exhausted. Then, all of the sudden a cake appeared that said “Happy Anniversary, 2nd, Amy & Will.” My school had bought a cake to celebrate our anniversary. I thought this was exceptionally kind. But that was just the beginning.
At the end of the day, my principal called me into her office and said that the school was very sorry that I had lost my money, and that they had taken up a collection from friends at school to replace the lost money (about $150). Obviously I told them it wasn’t necessary, but they insisted. I cried. I was completely overwhelmed by this kindness. Obviously they know we are Americans, and that we have access to money, but they wanted us to know that we are part of the community and that we are not alone here.
I was touched by the support and caring of of my school community that week. Any bad feelings I had from the theft were replaced by warm and fuzzy feelings from my friends at school. In the end, the Peace Corps reimbursed us for the stolen money (just this once!) and I gave the money back to my school suggesting that maybe they could use it to help out another teacher.
About a week later, a hanging rack showed up on our front porch. It was an anniversary gift from the English teachers and principal of my school. They knew we were having a hard time finding a place to hang our clothes.
People ask us all the time if we are kerasan (comfortable/happy) here. How can we say no?