My host family, the Souarés, are wonderful. At the beginning of each month I give my host father and mothers a modest cash contribution, to cover the cost of feeding me, sheltering me, just generally taking care of me. At the beginning it was awkwardly difficult to get him to take it, there was a lot of "No, you are part of the family now, we can't accept that!" but I would insist. By now we've fallen into a more comfortable oh-you-don't-have-to-but-thank-you-oh-no-thank-you sort of arrangement, and I've never had any problems with my contribution being squandered, (there are PCVs who have had problems) I'm confident that it goes toward food and basic supplies.
When I gave my monthly contribution right before I left for vacation it got awkward again, with my host father insisting that I shouldn't be giving money for food that I wasn't going to be around to eat, but I said that it Peace Corps gave it to me to give to them (which is pretty much how it works) and so he considered that and then said "Ok, well, we'll repair your hut's roof while you're gone, so it will be very ready for rainy season." I said that sounded just fine, and when I got back to village I had this lovely, still-golden, water-tight, relatively spider-free thatch roof, and I was totally, totally happy about it.
|Fixed up for move-in day - May 2011|