I know, I know what you’re thinking. All this gallivanting around, is she ever working? Good question, very observant. Actually, the answer is yes. You see, work and progress here happen very slowly. Sometimes, time literally stands still. Literally.
My most recent work projects are moving along nicely, slowly, but nicely.
First, my mama, who is also the head teacher at the Primary School (to which I get the ‘pleasure’ of living in front of) had mentioned the desire for a possible water project. The existing rain water catchment system at the school was in need of repair. Re-cementing, new tin roof and gutters, and new reinforcing beams. When she came to me I suggested she talk with the school committee, come up with a budget, and then have a meeting with me present. To my surprise, my mama had already made a budget. So, I went to the next school committee meeting and we schemed. Turns out, the Water Charity application was a breeze. Water Charity is an organization in the states which fund water projects around the world up to $500. I was promised the full amount in less than two weeks. I even had time to post my project on facebook and solicit donations. Thank you to all who donated! Total friends and family contributions came to $260. They appreciate it!
At this time, I was leaving for some adventures/holidays/trainings, so my mama promised they would do their part and cut down some trees, make the beams, and get the cement. When I returned with the money, I was overjoyed to see they did their part. At once I gave all the money to my mama and merely watched everything happen. The fundis (cement layer and wood worker) worked hard. It took them one full month to repair the tank. Now, the 750 children and 5 teachers can have clean water.
Since I don’t enjoy teaching (sorry Dad and Erica!), I was glad to be able to help the school, teachers, and my mama get clean water. They are very grateful and so am I, to be able to provide the means for them to finish the work and reap the benefits.
Secondly, I have written a grant (which I started in August 2012) to help the Health Dispensary get a new delivery bed as well as other smaller equipment to accurately monitor the progress of pregnancies. Now, I’m not ‘giving’ them all this equipment, that’s actually the reason it has taken so long. If I had the inclination to write this on my own, it would have taken me three months max. However, that’s not the point.
The Health Dispensary committee must be involved and invested, and they have failed to come to meetings on many occasions, delaying the process further. With the failed meetings, we’ve had many letdowns of participation and lost a lot of time, but it seems they finally got their act together. With the information we gathered, I was able to do my part (write and submit the grant). We had a meeting with all the village leaders of the surrounding villages, a total of five villages use this Health Dispensary; and they all agreed to donate their allotted portion of the community contribution (25% of the total). Now, I’m kind of putting all my eggs in the basket labeled “please follow through”; and if they don’t, they simply and sadly don’t get the equipment. They must do their part. I’m not here to give them things, I literally can’t give them things. I’m here as a liaison, a person who brings the right people to the right people.
And now, I wait. I wait for PC staff to agree with my grant proposal and fund my project. Then, the real work begins…
Thirdly, I FINALLY had the opportunity of attending a Zinduka training in late January. I had applied last year, but since my region is the furthest away/hardest to get out of, I wasn’t allowed to go. Region discrimination! I got over the insensitivity and applied once again.
Zinduka is “a program that empowers community role models and coaches (me and my two counterparts) to deliver an activity-based curriculum that uses soccer analogies to deliver key messages and start conversations that promote healthy, responsible behaviors among Tanzanian youth (age 10-19).” So, basically, I get to play games with soccer balls and tennis balls to teach about the importance of health, and HIV/Malaria prevention. Pretty sweet deal.
The kids absolutely love it. And, the two “coaches” I chose to bring with me to the training in Iringa have been more than amazing. They’ve been prepared and on time to each practice, and they’re not even getting paid; this is them purely volunteering their time after teaching in the classroom all day.
Each ‘intervention’ is 10 ‘practices’ total. I am supposed to complete three interventions before my close-of-service in November 2013. Each intervention has 30 separate students. Right now we are just over halfway through with our first intervention with the 5th graders at the Primary School. This is also a great program for me, because it’s teaching outside the classroom setting with games and analogies which are fun and entertaining.
Fourthly, the Community Based Savings Group I initially started in my village in May 2012 has snowballed. There are now 2-3 groups in EACH of the surrounding five villages. And, now there are 5 total in my village alone. These groups empower the community to save their money in a safe place so they can eventually borrow (take out a loan) for a business investment or family emergency with a three month window of repayment. It’s brilliant. Who needs a bank? This grey box with three padlocks will do just fine.
Once again, all I had to do was talk to the field officer in town, get him to come to a village-wide meeting, and boom! 30 groups! Throughout the process, I also made a really good friend. Which is always a perk