Monday, September 04, 2006

I have been living in my home in Pemba about a month now. I am getting used to having electricity, sink, tub, and such. The water only runs indoors if folks aren’t filling their jugs at the main tap and it happens to be during the hour and a half a day that the water is on.

I share the house with Mr. Benos and his wife, Jennie Benos. Mr Benos’ father was greek and his mother indigenous Tonga people. Jennie is a nurse at the local clinic and also a facilitator for the project I work with. Mr. Benos is a welder and is incredibly active, usually working in the yard from about 7 hours to 18 hours daily. The have about 4 children, only one of which is around, but is mainly at the farm some distance from town. The others are in Lusaka. Some children of dead relatives stay with them and are essentially treated as their own.

They are very sarcastic and kind. They are also forcing me to speak Tonga by speaking all the time in Tonga. My Tonga is getting better, but still needs work.

I am starting a garden again as I have moved sites. We have already in the yard, papaya, grapefruit, avocado, mango, banana, and a hive of bees living in the main house, which I received a liter of honey from. I plan on growing some amaranth, a bit of maize, some beans, and some other plants sent to me by my good friends Will and Nathalie stateside.

The work is very busy. I go between Choma, Monze, and Lusaka meeting with folks about the project. It is a lot of coordinating and chatting, which I am getting better at.

The main project site is about 5 km from my home and is where about 30 children meet 3 times a week to learn about agriculture and other things. They are currently involved in mushroom production, beekeeping, and gardening. They will probably be graduating soon so we are looking into how to assist the graduates in starting up their own projects through micro finance or other assistance. There are other side projects of 30 adults and another of 30 children about 8 km from the main site.

One of my jobs is to try and assist in moving the project forward without losing any of the lessons learned already. It is challenging as always to get folks to communicate with each other. This has been something that I have seen in the HIV/AIDS sector and even within Peace Corps. People will go off and deal with their slice of the pie and be doing similar things without working together or communicating.

The kids are awesome and well skilled and the idea behind the project is desirable and possible here. I am enjoying working with this project very much.

In other news, my program supervisor quit. He was working too much and decided he had enough, as far as I know. The gossip abounds, which appears to be very Peace Corps. I miss him around, but I don’t plan on losing him as a friend.

I will be taking my first official vacation to go around with my friend Laura from NM checking out health related projects in Zambia. I have a whole week off and am actually looking forward to not really having a set schedule.

I once again hope everyone is well.



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