To my surprise, I found little improvements in my former community and of course, they were happy to see me and welcomed me as if I had never left. While the government schools I worked with were still having the same inanely long meetings about the same topics they can't seem to resolve, the community school in my village that I worked with most, had recently been upgraded to a government primary school. This makes a huge difference: now the school will be assigned a trained, salaried teacher, where previously the teachers were volunteers from the village. The upgrade also means new school buildings to replace the mud/thatch structures where the kids had previously been learning. They will receive textbooks and supplies instead of hand-me-downs.
I was happy that a few ambitious villagers have had some new opportunities. One friend of mine is enrolled in a teachers course and we found him at the roadside doing research for his assignments on the internet on his non-smart phone! I would not have thought anyone in my village knew what the internet was, although he may be the only one. Another of my good friends got a job as a field officer supervising Early Childhood Development programs in the area, resulting in a preschool in the village. All these things gave me hope for the kids I came to love.
Unfortunately, some things change and some things stay the same. A few drunk men still accosted us, wreaking and slurring. Some girls in grade 6 or 7 when I was there now are married with a couple kids. People who are sick still have to walk 5k to get to a clinic. However, as we say in the village, "pan'gono pan'gono," or little by little. Hopefully, I'll return in another 5 years and find peoples' lives improved in new ways and maybe I'll be able to contribute in some way.