Written November, 8th, 2012
So far in my Peace Corps experience the good days are about equal to the bad and the mediocre days vastly outnumber them both. But I will say that when you do have a good day, it feels even better.
The start of the day was pretty shitty. I has biked to another town this morning to pick up some sawdust to make compost at the school garden (they have a mill). I figured it would be easier to just go down there than to have to collect a whole bunch of grass or other dried material. Wrong. I popped my bike tire on the very start of my journey home and had to walk it. Boo. My bike is still broken because I am lazy. I know nearly everyone here could fix it super fast but I really need to learn how to do it.
But, the day got better. So I have been wanting to build gardens with women near their homes. People in my community have farm plots very far away from the home where they plant staples that they can basically ignore until harvest (beans, groundnuts, and tubers). Very few families grow vegetables. Most veggies are brought in from Moramanga and are expensive. Also, the selection really sucks. Yesterday I was able to find cabbage, tomatoes, and these horrible little bitter eggplant things (angivy) and that was a pretty good selection.
Every woman I have approached so far about building a garden has immediately become disinterested when they discovered that I could not give them seeds and tools. They just do not have the extra money to invest in such projects. So, we are going to apply for funding! There is a program called SPA (small project assistance) that provides money for projects related to women and children’s health (gardening = nutrition).
I have been trying to set up a meeting to see if woman are interested (and those who I have talked to have been a strong yes) but to put up notices in my town you have to get them stamped from the chief-de-fokontany and it seems to be some cosmic rule that she must go missing when I need things stamped. But I found her today! I got my notices stamped and she seemed really excited about it and told me that I did a really good job on the notices (there is only about 15 words so I couldn’t screw up too badly…).
*Side note: my chief-de-fokontany is awesome. Fist of, she is a woman which is pretty cool. Also she is a health care worker and from what I have seen is super awesome at her job. She owns a store and they sell birth control front and center and have all sorts of health posters up. While I was waiting to get my notices stamped 2 women came in for contraceptive injections which was cool to see (I have heard from other volunteers that people would sit around awkwardly waiting for the volunteer to leave so I was happy they were so comfortable and open in front of me). An injection which lasts 3 months costs 200 ariary (about 9 cents) and a single month of pills costs 50 ariary (about 2 cents), insane! A sick baby also came in so she sold the mom some medicine and then scolded her for having the very feverish baby bundled up in way too many layers of clothing. I love her!
So after I got my stamps I got to walk around town and put up my notices (we have 4 spots for them in my town). Every place I went people would gather around to see what I was putting up. All the woman seemed excited (some of them yelling down the street to friends) and everyone I asked said they would go. All the men seemed obviously less excited. When they asked me why I was only working with woman I gave them the honest answer that if I worked with women we could ask for money because it was related to child health (for the record there are lots of other reasons such as I feel more comfortable working with women and women are the main ones in charge of agricultural work). All the men seemed okay with that answer but I do want to start some sort of ag classes to reach a wider audience.
So I am a happy girl and have something to look forward to. The meeting is Thursday morning at my house so hopefully lots of people come but not too many!