Adventures in Peace (Corps)

Drumroll Please

And the winner is…

Xacmas, or Khachmas, or Hachmas…however you write it, after December 10th this will be home for the next two years. Xacmas is located in the northeast about ten kilometers from the sea, and about 30 minutes by bus from the mountains in Quba (pronounced Guba). Apparently Bakuvians flock to Xacmas and the northern resort city of Nabran to escape the oppressive heat of the summer. According to my guide book (thank you seeeeestooooor) the population is 66,000 people. For this big city girl, that’s a pretty small city, but it’s one of the bigger cities in AZ.

A couple of volunteers went to Xacmas for their site visits. I’ve received positive reports about the city from them. It’s nice and clean, and thankfully it is not reminiscent of Sumgayit at all.  There are a couple of new parks lined with fake palm trees that light up at night. Doesn’t that sound dreamy? I’ve also heard rumors that most of this county’s produce is grown there. This includes a wide selection of stone fruits in the summer and some produce in the winter. Fake trees, real food…at least they have their priorities straight.

I will be living with a large family for the first four months, after which time I may move into my own house/apt if there is something available. I’ve also heard that Xacmas is expensive because of its close proximity to the coastal resorts. First the Diva Spa, and now the resort town of Xacmas. Does this sound like the Posh Corps to any of you?

My new host father is Afqan, he is 45 years old and is an engineer. My host mom is Arzu, she is 40 years old (yes, I am older than my new mom), and is a house wife. They have three children: Hikmet is 17. I think he is a boy and I’ve heard that he studies at the Oil University in Baku. The two girls are Samira (15) and Nasiba (11). There is also a grandmother, Pelver, she is 78.

I am taking the place of an AZ6 volunteer who will be leaving at the end of this month. She works for an organization called UAFA, which doesn’t translate into English, but basically stands for United Aid for Azerbaijan Xacmas Family Support Center. This center supports families who have children with disabilities. I’ve already written about how AZ does not offer many opportunities to people with disabilities. This organization is one of the few in the country who serves this population. It is a very green organization, and I know that Jessica, the volunteer I’ll be replacing, has had her challenges in mobilizing and organizing the parents and the director of the organization. Though she’s had many successes one of her most notable is a cooperative business she helped the parents plan and implement for youth. These youth designed, sewed, and hand painted patterns on fabric tote bags which they sell at an Azerbaijani handicraft store in Baku. The proceeds go to supporting this program for youth and the youth also receive a portion of the sales for their labor.

Jessica also helped to start a women’s business center. She wrote a grant to USAID and received funds from them for this project. The center teaches women computer skills, as well as other business skills. I believe she’s also helped women start cosmetic businesses like Avon and Mary Kay though I have not heard this from her nor did I read it in her legacy report, so I cannot confirm this information. Jessica and I will be meeting before she leaves AZ back to the States, and I’ll be able to get more details from her then. I think I am very lucky to be taking her place. Every volunteer I’ve talked to says that progress happens at a very slow pace, so if I can pick up where Jessica left off, hopefully that means I can build on top of what she’s already started.

So, I’m happy about my placement. I think there’s some opportunity for some interesting work, and who knows what will happen, what I will find on my own, and what projects/opportunities will present themselves to me. There are a couple of other volunteers, one who lives about an hour from Xacmas, and the other lives in the south near Iran (don’t worry mom, I will not be going to Iran) who have collaborated on opening an ecotourism business. The business in the south will launch in the spring. There may be a way for me to hop on board with their project too, but we’ll see what happens.

14 responses

  1. Jessie George

    Glendene–so excited and happy for where you have landed! I’ve read all your posts and this place sounds like it will be a good place! produce, mountains, and close to the sea—what more can you ask for…well, I guesss, some fake trees! yay… i miss you. love xoxo jess

    November 11, 2010 at 9:34 pm

  2. Shizzy

    How exciting! They are lucky to have you. Merry Xacmas! xoxo

    November 11, 2010 at 9:35 pm

  3. Monica Erickson

    I love the updates! I can’t wait to hear about the place once you arrive. Thanks and keep them coming.
    xo – Mon

    November 12, 2010 at 9:15 am

  4. Cindy Hanson

    Congrats, Glendene! Can’t wait to hear how it is in your new place 🙂


    November 12, 2010 at 11:16 am

  5. P o E

    OMG! i can’t believe it’s already been 3 months…! can’t wait to see photos of your new resort-like home!
    xo, me

    November 12, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    • It hasn’t been three months silly. It’s been two months. They just announced where we’ll be. Now we have a month before finishing PST and heading off to our sites.

      November 14, 2010 at 9:52 am

  6. Jamie Port

    So does this mean you will be working behind a desk or out in the field where you wanted to be?

    November 12, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    • I think I’ll probably be doing a bit of both, which is OK with me. I just didn’t want to be behind a desk 100% of the time.

      November 14, 2010 at 9:50 am

  7. I think you’d be good as a rep for Avon and Mary Kay in AZ. Add fresh fruit sales and you’ll be the entrepenurial queen.

    Stay away from 45 year old men named Afqan – especially the married ones who live with their 78 year old mothers.

    I’m glad you now have your path laid out. Sounds like opportunities abound. You’ll get your bearings and then plug away.

    Try not to hike in the mountains bordering Iran; the last tourists who tried are still in jail.

    Love you, Me

    November 12, 2010 at 10:27 pm

  8. Sharlene Basch

    If you’ve been assigned to the next city you’re going to, I assume you have been accepted into the PC for the next 24 months. How exciting!!!! Now you get to do what you were sent to do by the PC.

    Mitch’s 2nd and last sentence is great advice. He sounds like me. As the saying goes, the apples don’t fall far from the trees.


    November 13, 2010 at 11:33 am

    • Nope, I have not been sworn in yet. Swearing in does not happen until the 9th or 10th of Dec. I forget. I can still be sent home or decide to leave for that matter. They tell us where we’re going assuming that we will swear in. As for Mitch’s comment about hiking near Iran, if I’m not mistaken, I think Mitch was stating the obvious in his oh so subtle way. that Mitch. In any case, it’s probably good advice. I think I’ll take it to heart. I’m gonna try calling you this week. Was a busy weekend, but I’ll hopefully have some time. Love you, me

      November 14, 2010 at 9:49 am

  9. stacey

    Ya, ya, I thought of the Iran border hiking thing, too. Hmm, something in the coffee. So if you are in a tourist town by the ocean, do I need to send your bikini via parcel post? Do you girls get a separate beach?

    November 14, 2010 at 12:52 am

    • No, apparently they don’t have the same rules in the resort area. It’s a co-ed bikini free for all. Though I hear some of the women wear three pieces…bikini bottom, top and a hijab.

      November 14, 2010 at 9:55 am

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