Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Progress Report, Month Ten


Mary’s infection, hospitalization, and return back to the U.S. dominate the past month along with our adjustments to being apart. The month marks the beginning of Phase II of our Peace Corps adventure.

The Garden Project
The garden continues to get bigger as I clear trash, rocks, and weeds. I find myself in a frenzy of getting and experimenting with whatever seeds I can plant. Some do well; others either don’t germinate or produce fruit. At times I wonder what I am doing is having any impact on others until I hear of someone else who is starting to grow vegetables, usually up the mountainside rather than by their house. Samoans are generally reluctant to ask me for plantings or seeds, but readily take them when offered. I have introduced okra which really grows well and when fried seems to be liked. My vegetables are sold almost before I can harvest. My real objective is to try growing vegetables which can be sold at higher prices to resorts, but which local farmers don’t have the luxury to experiment growing.

There is great interest in the arrival of my bees. Trying to get the materials to build the lean-to shelter is taking longer than I had hoped. My two hives are currently on Savaii busy producing honey awaiting their new home in the back of my garden.

Telecenter/Computer Training
A call to the Ministry of Communication is disappointing in the fact that monies for new telecenters has not been funded, but rewarding to know that Iva is still in the hunt.
My involvement with school computer training is at a standstill.

Women’ Committee:
Sewing Machines
Classes continue to be held weekly with the Women’s Committee trying to expand the number of people who attend beyond the 15-20 regulars. Many of the village women, especially young mothers, simply don’t have the money to buy fabric and zippers needed to make their own clothes and children’s school uniforms. I am submitting a glowing six-month progress report to the funding agency, New Zealand High Commission, about the success of their grant, to later be followed with a request to fund another grant for sewing supplies.
Weight Control Program
I floated the idea of a weight control program by the Women’s Committee President. We talked a long time about the habits, which lead to weight gain and about various efforts in the past to tackle this problem. As you might imagine, I have to handle this important subject very delicately.
What was interesting is that Samoans think all whites are trim. True, the ones who come to Savaii are generally of the backpacker variety; hardly a cross-section of our society or of the tourists who visit Apia on the curse ships.
Silk Screening
Another subject discussed with the Women’s Committee President was adding silk screening to the sewing/fabric lessons. She wants to proceed, but wants to wait a while so as to not do take away from sewing classes. Silk-screened fabric is to be included in the December fashion show.

Village Youth
An encore of last December’s talent show is planned. I have started to sample some youth who might be leaders for this event.

Small Business
I plan to visit the village’s small retail stores and see if there is any interest in learning about small business practices. I think I now have a better idea about their current operations. They ain’t run like Wal-Mart.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Nick, I just want to drop a line to let you know how much I'm enjoying your journal. I plan to see Mary very soon and catch up on all the missing details. Miss seeing you at the club. Keep up the good work on this journal and know that others are looking forward to following the rest of your journey, albeit alone.

Mary Lou Olson