I have just finished harvesting my maize and hosting 4 new volunteers that will be this years HIV/AIDS volunteers. My harvest should be around 400 kg of maize and was quite a task though the boys that live at my compound assisted me a great deal. Given that I eat about 10 kg a month, I will likely use the maize to support some of the poorer families in my area.
The dry season is here and the mobility is increased greatly. I will endeavor to visit all the health posts in my area before the rains come.
The HIV/AIDS work is going and I have cleared up some confusion about my role here. Some wanted me to “preach” the message of HIV/AIDS while my role is more of a facilitator drawing upon local knowledge and resources. I mentioned teaching might be part of my role if there were not so many trained people in my area (there are about 20 highly trained folks that can facilitate in a culturally appropriate manner and in local language). My job as I see it is to coordinate efforts and help all the trained folks learn from each other and discover what else the community might want them trained on (such as psychosocial support for those affected).
I had an interesting conversation with my headman the other day. He said people were complaining to him about my initial choices of company here. They told him that he should tell me to stay away from them but he said to them that he trusted my age and experience to come to same conclusions my community had already reached. They then waited as I quickly discarded these people as their motives for befriending me caused me some suspicion.
This came up as the headman was complementing me on my demeanor within the community. Apparently my choices have earned me some respect and I am not considered a boy, but a man, even though I don’t have a wife. Interesting how this works. I had a feeling everyone was watching me, holding their breath. It appears that everyone has decided to breathe again.
Other news is that I will be developing a new site that I will move to before August. The work helps our HIV/AIDS program as the site sort of works in conjunction with FAO and some agreements were signed at national levels regarding USG Peace Corps working with the UN, specifically FAO in this case.
It is work supposedly assisting vulnerable children and their families to access knowledge and social support funded by a variety of donors and working within the Ministry’s of Agriculture, Education, and Health. I don’t want to say too much more about it as I have yet to see the reality as I have only had high level meetings and have not yet met the community or district folks where this is happening. It is designed after the Junior Farmer Field and Life Schools (JFFLS) in conjunction with FAO.
Another volunteer will take my site as I leave so my community won’t be left empty-handed and my new site is both within my province (same language) and about 100 km from my current site.
More updates to follow as I am going to get very busy with all this.