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.