Today is my last day of vacation here in Portugal and I am off to Madagascar tomorrow morning. The trip has been amazing and I am so thankful to my friend Gabby(redislandliving.com) and her family for bringing me along. We visited all the sites in Lisbon and Porto and more importantly enjoyed first world comforts like electricity, running water, and delicious, delicious food. I feel refreshed and ready to get back to work in Ambohidray (I fully admit I was going a bit crazy the week or so before I left for vacation). Also, my suitcase is packed full of goodies (chickpeas, lentils, spices, nuts, seeds) which makes at least the food prospect of returning back to Mada a bit less daunting.
Look at all that Port!
You cannot escape the litchis, even in Portugal!
In work related news, my PCPP (Peace Corps Partnership Program) funds for the school garden are in (or should be very, very soon). The Peace Corps funding office was closed for a freaking long time for the holidays so I am glad to have things moving again. I am spending one day in Tana before heading back to site to buy some things (the price and selection in Tana is much better than my district capital of Moramanga). Then I need to hold a meeting to put people in charge of the construction projects (well cover, compost area, tool shed, and hopefully raised garden beds) and make sure that the supplies lists are okay before I go out and buy everything. Then we construct and the kids start learning. Yay! We planted some things before I left (rainy season was slow to arrive) so hopefully there are already some sunflowers, squash, and green beans for the kids to be excited about!
My SPA (Small Project Assistance) project proposal for the women’s gardening group has been submitted but is in limbo because of holidays. A new staff member recently took control of the SPA grants and she is on vacation in the states so I am just waiting (still waiting…. it was submitted about a month ago and have heard nothing). Plus I have been warned that the USAID review process of the proposal is slow as well. This project is going on Gasy time…
My mind is already working on my next project, washable sanitary pads (which I have mentioned before). Hopefully I can meet with the school teachers/administrators and health workers to get things moving fast and get the proposal submitted! The biggest issue with this is that ideally, supplies need to be ordered from abroad. This includes water resistant PUL fabric and snaps. Not only is this expensive, but funds can’t be used to pay for shipping so I would have to cover that which is difficult on my finances. Not to mention how slow and unreliable shipping to Mada is!