Wednesday, August 29, 2007



Am in the capital LSK after agreeing to help with a national nutrition and HIV/AIDS consultation.

It may lead to something beyond Peace Corps, but I am just looking forward to the experience.

My new close of service (COS) date is October 2, 2007 and I am not moving it. If I get a job I get a job.

If not, then we'll see.

Am wrapping things up at my site and most people know that I might be leaving. Will probably be in Zambia visiting folks through middle october. Then back to spend holidays stateside with familia y amigos.

Short and confusing but its all I got.

Hope this finds everyone well.

love niko.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

another final one

Turns out that the Peace Corps Washington decision to deny my extension was reversed.

Changes my plans again.

Maybe something else will happen, but as it stands now I’ll decide depending on response to my job applications. Peace Corps understands my indecision and is giving me some flexibility.

May stay with PC and may not. Should decide within the next few weeks.

Hope everyone is healthy and smiling.

I am.

Love to all.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Final One

Hello everyone for what will likely be my final post as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

I applied for extension of my service at my site where I do some work under the Ministry of Agriculture. I was denied due to a minor shoulder injury that took a while to heal (It is healed now). It was very surprising given I had thought I would be accepted and had made no other plans. Also, I was told 6 weeks before my scheduled date of departure from PC service.

Now I am looking for jobs in Zambia and in neighboring countries before I extend my search to Latin America and Asia. It is fun and interesting how this change of plans has cropped up. I was initially shocked but got used to the idea and started working on my resume and job searching almost immediately considering the limited amount of time I have. I have so far applied to some organizations within Zambia to do public health work. We’ll see. My plan is to first wee if I can get a job. If not, then I’ll probably spend some time (weeks or months) hanging out with people I have met here.

As I wrote a friend of mine here, it is hard to describe my plans in detail as a lot of things are in the air.

I have told most people that I work with both in my community and in Peace Corps as well as friends (though PC needs very little starting to get information flowing throughout the organization). Many were surprised.

Since we thought that I was staying, there was no consideration about another volunteer taking my place at my current site of work. That means that we have 6 weeks without preparation to find a current or new PC Volunteer interested in the work that I do and in continuing. This is another thing that I am doing. I am also visiting the other sites that I work with to let them know that I my contract extension has been denied.

Other than that, work and life has been fine. Spent some time in Livingstone and saw the falls from the Zimbabwe side (which was BEAUTIFUL). I was involved in a training designed to assist folks that volunteers with in the rural areas to improve their skills and knowledge with regard to HIV/AIDS. It was some work, but I think we might actually have some impact as the fellow I brought to the training was just the other day discussing the truth about HIV transmission risks to another curious fellow.

I am now just trying to soak up my last weeks in the village (though my host family just got satellite TV so I am not sure how “village” I actually live) before I move on to whatever my path may be.

Anyway, whatever happens, I’ll probably be on the communication grid again (e-mail, etc.) so I’ll make this my last blog post as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

Love to all.


Monday, April 16, 2007

This is a chameleon I took a photo of hiding in some squash leaves. They are pretty common and most folk fear them quite a bit.

This is my friend Maambo facilitating a session with the children on gardening and why we do it as well as what is needed. Kids were distracted by me taking a photo.

This is all participants from a training I attended at Kanchomba farm institute for the program I am attached to.

This is sidney and sidney. They both work and stay at the farm where my maize and stuff is. They are sitting on a dish drying rack.

This is an example of what happens in my field. I think this was probably monkey damage.

I just came back from my small farm today.

Monkey and bush/wild pigs have been disturbing my crops so I have lost a bit of maize and some squash. I also planted pigeon pea on some land where I want to plant maize next year. The pigeon pea should make the soil nutrient-rich. I was looking at the pigeon pea growth and deciding how best to prepare for next planting season. I will likely dig in the soft parts of the pigeon pea around October this year.

I was also there to see how dry my maize was so I can begin preparations for harvesting. I should harvest around 200 kg of maize so we are looking into using an ox cart to bring it the 20 km distance from where the farm is to where I live. The family I live with will assist me.

Two weeks ago I was in a rural area for a training concerning the same program I work with. The training was entirely in local language so was exhausting for my listening skills. It was great for learning language but I was tired when the training closed.

A week ago, immediately following the training, I spent some days with a Japanese friend I met in Thailand as he will return soon to Japan. He is in Zambia working with the Japanese development organization JICA. We ate nice food and chatted.

I then went to Chaminuka resort for a final PC conference. I heard that the cost was 220 USD a night per room in which two volunteers stayed. The facilities were nice and the food well prepared and varied. The conference was for volunteers nearing the end of their contracts and was to stimulate thought and preparation for the end of life in Zambia and return to the states.

We have been generally told that return to states will be challenging. I agree on that point but am wary about taking specific advice regarding this as we were given advice before and during our arrival here to Zambia. Staff and other volunteers said that living here would be difficult and that we would consider ending our service early from time to time.

Being that neither was true for me, I think that some of the specific advice given regarding return to states may also not hold for me personally. I think that return will be challenging but not as overwhelming as the picture that some are painting.

As I have told others, sifting through advice is a skill I am learning. Sometimes advice seems to have more to do with the giver than the recipient.

Anyway the final conference was thought provoking and we’ll see how we all cope with returning to states and deciding what to do with the rest of our lives.

Other than that I’ve been working, smiling, biking, gardening, farming, and learning.

Still enjoying!

love. niko.

Monday, February 19, 2007


I have been at site and in Zambia for about a month from vacation.

I have been working with the JFFLS program that I previously mentioned and we are trying to coordinate activities at the main site and work on activities at a Cuulu (around 12 km from me and 7 from main Pemba site). We are trying to construct structures for growing mushrooms, honey production, and equipment storage at the main site. We are also trying to stimulate more activity with regard to growing vegetables and such at Cuulu. There are two other sites that are working and are further away (about 25 and 120 km from my home respectively) and I have less direct contact with them but we are trying to visit from time to time.

I am also growing maize at a farm and a small garden near my house in my off time. I have gotten stronger again from working the fields and biking the 17 km to where my maize field is twice a week. I may add I have only eaten my own maize since august and will not likely buy commercial until I am no longer living in Zambia. It is nice to subsist in what you grow. Fulfilling. I planted sunflower and pigeon pea (as a green manure) as well, but the management is poor. The maize is doing ok, but the rains just stopped and that may affect the harvest. The garden is mostly herbs that I want to introduce to the project, but I will probably grow some greens (collards, chards, etc.).

I am also working with a youth group made up of late teenagers and early twenty-somethings. They do peer education, film viewing and discussions, and condom promotion. I squeeze this in sometimes when I am not involved with project work and offer them materials and advice, though they do well on their own.

I am also working on PhD applications in the field of nutrition/food science. I am starting with initial groundwork and requirements and am so far looking at Cornell and Davis. It is a process.

I am also submitting paperwork for extension at site, which is a bit of work.

My language is getting better, but by no means fluent. I can get most of what people say, but when they start speaking fast or loosely, I get lost. I translated for some folks recently and it was taxing, but I felt like I can actually express myself, at least if we are not using the conditional tenses.

Things that are nice lately are:
Fresh mushrooms, fresh roasted maize, fresh curcubits (squash, cucumbers), field greens (cleome, amaranth, blackjack), people, and babies.

Mosquitoes and other biting critters are annoying at this time. I literally coat myself with DEET when I go to the farm and still return with unknown and itchy bites. Small price for delicious produce, I guess.

Anyway, that’s the news. Hope everyone is well and I’ll eat something fresh for each of you. Best and love.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

This is world AIDS day 2006 in Pemba, where I live. Lots of folks and the area member of parliament came.

This is taken from where we stayed in Vilankulos, an old charming town that felt a bit sketchy. I felt as if people were casing us constantly. They might have been. Probably due to the numerous tourists coming there.

This is morning in Tofo, on the coast of Mozambique. it was incredibly hot and beautiful. The ocean was warm and the sun was scorching. i think this picture should be around 5:30 in the morning.

This is another angle at the same time and place in Tofo. It was rough to wake up to this every morning. I usually took a dip to wake up, which was sometimes not that intelligent, but was fun as I got hammered by waves.

This is some huge prawns we got in Maputo. delicious meal. Had to take a photo for memories.

This is an island off the coast of Vilankulos. Too beautiful. I had a cold but remained conscious enough to marvel at the beauty.

This is the same island as above and the boat we came in on.

This is my family in Pemba, Zambia. Top left is Mutinta, to her right Beno, to his right the old man, to his right chiwana or garfield, me, khola to my right, and mpendcili standing to the right of khola.