Well, I have been here well over a year now in Zambia and a bit over a year in Southern Province.
The new project/site is going well. I am learning quite a bit and becoming adapted to my new surroundings (with electricity).
We are preparing for graduation of the current students enrolled in the program that will likely happen with fanfare around the middle of November. We are also finalizing some funding applications for the project that involves brainstorming, budgets, goals, and logistics for the coming year.
I am actually at my home only about 5 days a week as I find myself at our district planning headquarters about 60 km away in Choma very often. Peace Corps has a computer there and I use Internet to download and send necessary materials for the project. I get a little tired and busy as the project meets Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday and I find myself in Choma at least one other day a week. This usually leaves me Saturday as the only day that I am really at home and resting. It is worth it, though, as the kids are great.
Let me say a bit about the participants. The participants range in age from 13-18 and have been previously identified as vulnerable in some way. I would say that some of them can write, and less can write well, even in local language. They are fluent in the local language, but only a handful is able to communicate well in English. They understand well enough, but getting across new concepts is very challenging and something I usually rely on a translator for. My Tonga is getting better but trying to catch young peoples dialect is challenging even for me in English, much less another language.
Facilitators are also involved in the project and come both from within the community and from within line ministries. They are supposed to create a curriculum; lesson plans, and come to the teaching site to facilitate sessions with the children/project participants. The current reality with regard to facilitators is that coordination and interest sometimes appears to be lacking. . Lately, for a number of reasons, I have been the only facilitator in attendance. Others come sporadically due to family obligations, household work, official work, or other things. We hope to change this by my presence and by electing new community facilitators for the next cycle that will come regularly. This will hopefully lighten the load on the few that do attend now and encourage them to come in the future.
Rainy season is coming again and I hope to plant maize, sunn hemp, sunflower, and beans on a large scale (~1 kg of seed each) and have a small garden for vegetables and herbs. My neighbors, the nurse and her husband are still getting along famously. We greet each other daily and frequently chat. The old man speaks incredibly fast “old” Tonga that is making me come up to speed fast. He also speaks English, but he understands me better if I speak Tonga.
Anyway, life is still good and we are trying to do the best that we can.
Best and love.