Saturday, March 15, 2008

Village Life

What Has she been Doing!!????
Well i have really been Focusing on Cultural exchange and making friends in my Village. My LIFE (Linking Income Food and the Environment) program work has been slow but with small successes. I have a Lead Farmer and friend named BaTitus. We have planted many conservation agriculture species in the hope to harvest enough seed to create a seed "reserve" or resource within the village. Our goal is to create an available seed resource within our area that farmers can agree to develop as a Seed multiplication program. Meaning; I gave BaTitus 1Kg of a particular seed. He than Plants than Harvests those seeds and returns that same amount back to me so that next season i may do this with another farmer. On top of this he than gives three other active Farmers interested in this program 1Kg, to than plant for next season, continuing our Goal and seed program by three fold each season. This is our idea...we shal see...
I just finished hosting my first Workshop this week in Bee Keeping! I invited the Forestry Department to come to my village and help demonstrate how to keep bees and make Bee Hives. This is one program that i am very excited about. One because Bee Keeping is a great income generating activity, is a source of food, medicine and most importantly supports the idea of planting more local vegetation and tree species to support the Bees food supply. Killing many birds with one stone!
On Monday I have my first Cooking Demo as well! We are really promoting Nutrition and healthy eating with the uses of nitrogen fixing plants. Such as Soya beans, beans, ground nuts and a tree like legume that is called pigeon pea or cajanus cajun.. The demo is on Soya and staring today now also Pigeon peas because a very nice shop owner that is interested in our Peace Corps just gave me a 25Kg bag of seeds for free!!!! love Zambia! I will focus on making soya milk, flower, and a cake like mash that you can make sausage out of!!!! yum! cant wait. I baked cookies for the group while i was here in Choma Today!
Also i just bought a radio/tape player and i and some girl friends are going to start a women's club/aerobic funk class that will reach the topics of HIV, Gender, IGA'S and what ever else we can do....
Little by little i am collecting those Peace Corps marks that makes one seem to be a successful volunteer on paper...i already am succeeding though because i have made some really great friends that will be painful to leave......and i can make them laugh in my Local CiTonga....yeah baby!

A Little Bit Like Heaven

White beaches......Masai worriers......bright colors..........Live Music...........Rasta......fresh sea food.....sailboats.....Tropical climates.....monkeys........houses made of Coral.......peace
My adventures started in Zambia from Southern to Central Via BUS, than from Kapiri to Dar Selam by TRAIN. The Train took us through a visual Paradise. Seeing the local Villages and Farming Practices to Elephants, Zebra, Wart Hogs, Giraffes and all the "Gizela" like creatures who's names surpass my memory. The Two and a half day Train ride consisted mostly of sight seeing....mingling with the locals on board and card games that resulted in at least 3 injuries..... we arrived in Dar Selam late in the evening....which meant we needed to find a taxi and a place to stay Fast Fast. Traveling with and not knowing the local language could potentially cause a problem. Fortunately now living in a third world country for almost a year...I'm almost Pro at mitigation and humor when dealing with the "minority" complex in another country. We found a place to stay with the master negotiating skills i have acquired in no time. Unfortunately my misplacing of person property is still a problem and we left my Back Pack in the Taxi while i was dealing with logistics. I had faith that the man was compassionate and would return the bag sometime before we set off for the Island that following morning...and Lo and Behold i was right he returned that next morning...nothing taken and with a smile i thanked him with a hand shake and a cash donation for his troubles... this was day one in Tanzania........
We took a large Cruise boat to the Island that took about 4 hours and stayed at an affordable Indian Hostel that became our haven for the next eight or so days of dancing.....sweating.......swimming......eating.....buying of local arts......and pure relaxation. The music festival consisted of artists from around the Africa continent, from Afro Funk to Traditional. We played and traveled around the Island by day and Danced to the music by night...I traveled to the North to the South and by Far the most spectacular was the East near Paje. Where on one occation we ate lunch with some Masai Worrier boys that ended in us swimming in the Indian Sea and me having to Save one of them From Drowning! They may be tall and have unbelievable jumping abilities but the sea was like quick sand to these boys...... I'm a hero!
There is much more to my adventures than words can express........and time can allow.......
maybe one day I will be able to express what my experiences truly were like...until than bare with me my friends.....

Monday, January 28, 2008

Rain Rain Go Away, come back, to Sprinkle a Litlle Each Day!

Planting Planting Planting she does........
Manual labor is the name of the game and I, little princess and the pea, am doing my best to keep up with the locals. is she you ask? PEPE (no in CiTonga). Alas my tiredness gets the best of my abilities but not my spirits. the rains this year have been more than most of the locals have seen in their life times. meaning- hunger will strike and strike hard. Water logged crops, leakage of fertilizers and rotten roots are leading to many rumors of soon to be death counts. This is a little intimidating being that yours truly works within the Agricultural section. We shall see. Pray for my people.

The Focus of my off time has been the local basic school Mandala. The smiles on these children's faces are enough to feed your soul for a life time. I am "teaching" natural cycles of the earth, trees water and life. Its really fun because my CiTonga is in an accent so the children and i have resulted in pictures, dramas and laughter to finding the path to knowledge.

To be continued.......

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


MOSI-A-TUNYA Smoke That Thunders

I wouldn't say that my travels were anything less than a spiritual awakening when speaking of such a place as Victoria Falls. Locally known as MOSI-A-Tunya, among many other local names, Victoria Falls is just that. You enter through a small paying booth, where the local CiTonga Greeting and smiles help you cut back entry prices from $10 USD to a measly 2000 Kwatchya, equaling the equivalent of around 50 Cents. The park explodes with the Gushing sounds of the Falls as you approach, as if you had just entered into another Galaxy through the only teleport known to human existence. Among the many paved paths and secret "Curious George" trails, i found the one that most suits my personality. Heading strait to the top of the Falls hoping for a death defying glimpse of the Zambezi river and her true power. The rains have just started, maybe more than a months time, so the build up of momentum is not at her full potential, yet still her force could sweet a crossing Elephant flat on its side sweeping him to his inevitable death. During Zambia's dry seasons, June-Aug, the top of the falls becomes a place of recreation for the locals and many Peace Corps volunteers, not to mention crossing hurds of local animals. Natural erosion of the rivers bed, created by her pure Hydro-Friction, creates suitable deep spring pools to swim and relax within. The Deepest and most dipped of pools is located right up against the edge where the river falls into an extensive ravine (More details about such events are to come during my stay). On the Flip side, crossing to the parallel edges of the Smoking Thunders, leaves a feeling of inadequacy in ones mind about the power and existence of humans in comparison to the Earths Natural Wonders.
From these view points you can not only experience the sights of the Falls but the borders of Zimbabwe itself, in all its troubled tensions and chaos, seeming peaceful and beautiful. The border of Zimbabwe is connected to Zambia's Mosi-A-Tunya by bridge. Connecting over a small canyon where the massive falling waters must past through, to than meander its way through the lands of Zimbabwe. Many recreational activity may occur on this bridge, such as bungee jumping by Tourists and some locals who are seeking thrills and that only escape deaths grip by elastic cord. Did she try it folks?!?!!? Not this trip, but the time will come when she will find the courage and the right amount of USD$ in her pocket to have.
What else can be said about the Smoke That Thunders gotta see it too believe it.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Im here Youre there

My day usually goes something like this.......
Rain season....Farming begins....
I wake with the Rising sun.
Zambia life is dependent upon the use of natural light and manual labor. Each Zambian Province has it's own individual ways to bring in the money and security. Southern Provinces have a significant relationship with their farming systems with the help of cattle. I live on a compound with a Fabulous Tongan Family, the Masilani's. The majority of ones work is done in the morning. Milking the Cattle, washing dishes from previous night, sweeping yard and house, plowing and planting in near by Fields, hauling of drinking water from bush pump (2KM away from my house), weeding of gardens and Fields with hoes, and for yours truly tea drinking breakfast, cooking and maybe a little reading.

What types of foods do you cook LO?
Well anything that the locals grow that i can buy. Such as Rape, Cabbage, Onions, Eggplant(if I'm lucky) tomatoes, beans, Maize and Nsima. Nsima is a grounded up product of the local Maize that than is cooked into a thick paste that is balled up into your hand and used as a utensil for your relish of choice. the staple food of Zambia Maize. Not much Nutrition. i am lucky to be able to afford Chickens, Soya Pieces, Eggs and other forms of protein and Vitamins.

My days are usually dependent upon what meetings i have planned, Field work needed to be done, how my body is feeling, is it raining cats and dogs, do i want to travel and how far (usually at least 6km by foot because i broke my bike), and what day of the week is it. For instance the productivity of a Tuesday is much different than a weekend, mostly because of church going and resting done by the locals. Can i organize groups today or should i simply go household to household. most days i spend time with my Best Friend in the Village Lillian Masilani and we gossip, dance with other local women and cook.

Mosquito city these days. the rains bring glorious things to this Dry and hot Southern Province but also bring havoc Flooding and Malaria! sitting around fires laughing and talking are some of my favorite past times. I speak the Local language of CITonga and spend a great deal of energy and focus on learning as much as possible.

I am the First Peace Corps Volunteer in my area, Kabumbwe , Choma District. Meaning, that i feel my job is to slowly sensitize my village and the surrounding villages of what Peace Corps Works do in Zambia and about American Culture. My program is LIFE, linking income food and the environment. I was trained in many AgroForestry techniques and Income generating idea. Meaning I Am still the little Gypsy-Hippie planting trees spreading love and learning how to teach by asking lots of questions and working as a member of my community and not a foreigner trying to push development. My community is excepting me and my different ways of living with open arms and laughter. I found through Dancing i can make people fall in love with the idea of having an American in their community that wants to learn just as much as they do.

Plans for near Future?
I am Focusing on Environmental Education at the local Basic School because my community has a pre existing Agroforestry program, provided by a near by Forestry Agent BA Kaluba. I love working with children, so my futures are focused mostly on their improved education. I also have a Bee Keeping project that is building great momentum as well. What i really want to do is to start a Dance group that would educate about AIDS/HIV through Dance, Drama and laughter.
Also, many of the Women have been asking me to start a Net Ball, Sowing, Dancing Group. Many possibilities, I just need to get the ball rolling.
Wish me luck.