One of the most remarked about traits of a Peace Corps Volunteer is our ability to adapt. There are the obvious things; language, culture, and food. Then there are the less discernible things, among them being our attitude toward a lack of resources. Back in America, if a person needs an end table for their couch, or a tiki torch for their patio, they’re simply going to go to a store and pick one up. But in the Peace Corps, it’s not that easy. For one thing, we have our budget to consider. For another, lack of personal transportation makes carrying these items a challenge. And finally, in our deep rural communities, sometimes what we need can’t even be found.
And so we make do.
The Peace Corps has, by no intention of its own, produced a group of creative individuals, capable of taking every day objects and turning them into something new. In Jamaica, there is a phrase for that – tun ya han, mek fashion – and the locals here could teach us a thing or two. Regardless, we’ve got plenty of ingenuity to go around.
In a recent post on her own blog, another PCJ Volunteer asked us to submit pictures and descriptions of our crafts, and I was widely impressed by what I saw. It’s nice to know I’m in the company of such creative people! Below, I’ve included a list of some of my own tun ya han, mek fashion items, but I highly recommend you check out these other crafty items too!
Cat scratching box
Created by cutting strips of cardboard, and gluing them in a shoebox lid.
My shoebox lid is the top to a case of Cliff Bars that were included in a care package,
reinforced with bit of duct tape
Crocheted mousie – stuffed with a scandal bag
Crochet jellyfish – stuffed with a scandal bag
Crocheted desk ornament – he won’t play with this
Sock buddy – worn out sock, scrap yarn, and stuffed with… can you guess?
Letter Tiles and Dominoes
I saved my cereal boxes and cut them up. I used a bit more of my poster board to create a white space, but you could just as easily use the brown side alone.
Chalk jar – Cheez Whiz jar
Scandal Bag Dispenser
Made with fifteen to twenty scandal bags (and there’s still plenty to spare!), two elastic hair ties, and crocheted together to make a scandal bag dispenser.
Q-tip jar – Cheez Whiz jar
(Please note the kitten in the corner)