Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Month Six Progress Report- Iva


School has started and the overseas relatives have left. Suddenly things are picking up in the village. People are busy making up for lost time. No midwinter blahs here.
My motto for this month is: “Learn by Doing. Teach by Example”.

Village Computer Training/Telecenter
We are still pursuing this major project by staying in touch with the Ministry of Communications as we see whether are proposal is accepted and the funds are available in June.
The principle at the local high school that originally indicated we could use his computer lab to teach people in the community has changed his mind. He does not want to open up the lab to anyone, even if he can use the extra money. Some of his school staff that was expecting us to assist is extremely disappointed. The computer lab is used to teach English. There is no one to teach computer. The facility just sits. You figure.
In the mean time, we have started computer training for an hour a day to the teachers at the local primary school. Most of the teachers have never even used a typewriter.

Sewing Machines
Construction is continuing preparing a building for instruction on the sewing machines. A schedule still needs to be prepared for classes.

Village Youth
We have been given the go ahead to submit a proposal for a basketball court to be constructed at the local park.

Home Gardens
In addition to my backyard demonstration garden, we are clearing ¼ acre for an expanded Demonstration Garden for the Ministry of Agriculture. This is consuming most of my time.
Meanwhile a group of local women plan to pay back loans by gardening. The loans are mostly to poor women who use them to pay for personal essentials, not gardening tools. I think they want me to submit a proposal for gardening tools. More on micro loans later.

New Primary School
Relatives of Iva residents living in New Zealand for a new school are collecting funds from their Samoan countrymen. They rejected the idea for Iva residents coming over to collect. It seemed they are worried about one for the pot, one for me.
After the funds are collected, we are to submit a proposal for a 1,500 meter fence around the school.

Small Business Development
Using my host family to learn how business is done in Samoa and my own money to seed start-ups, we have successful begun a popcorn business of making popcorn, which is a popular treat and selling it at the large bingo games. No one in the village is selling popcorn. Also a business making and selling T-shirts is taking off. Early sales have to Peace Corps to determine styles, patterns, and colors. We also have a store in town selling them. We are currently building inventory with a goal to sell to resorts. Nowhere on Savaii can you buy a souvenir t-shirt. Both businesses are profitable, even after paying me back the start-up costs. Now we have to make a decision as to the next step.
I plan to take what I am learning to conduct business lessons in the village. One thing is very clear; doing business in Samoa is not like in the U.S. I am learning a lot.

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