Sunday, September 28, 2008

Progress Report, Month 13


The testing of about 200 villagers for blood sugar and pressure is my major project this past month. Although the results are staggering and hoping this would prod the village leaders to undertake additional steps about diabetes, the opposite seems to be happening with little desire to proceed with additional testing or education. How to move this project a little farther, remains a real challenge. I have trouble simply accepting “God’s Will”.

The garden continues to occupy most of my time. It keeps me occupied and well fed. My sunflowers have immerged as the latest village curiosity. I am salting them and selling them as a “Lite” snack food. I continue to share seeds and cuttings with other farmers, and those Peace Corps who are starting gardens. My host family is now adding green bell peppers to their cooking for the first time. This is a real taste treat. A variety of sweet corn sent to me by Rick Echternacht is doing very well. I hope to be eating some next month.

What I am learning about gardening, besides it being a lot of work and filled with disappointments, is that most seed varieties, which grow well in temperate climates, just don’t make it in the tropics.

Small Business Development
Working with a young single mother who runs the family store is a real joy. She is good at keeping records and wants to learn. After realizing she was not earning any money for her efforts, deposits new bank account seem to prompted even more ambitious plans, including making and selling pizza to go along with her DVD rentals. This is a developing story. Other stores are not interested in my consulting services at this time.

Mentoring New Volunteers
The Peace Corps would probably not count this as a project, but I do. The passing along of my many failures and few successes to others is as important to me as anything else I may do.

Classes continue, but at a reduced pace. I need to bring up the subject of a fashion show again. The women’s committee wants more cloth and accessories so the very poorest can learn to sew, but as yet has not given me a list of what they need.

Ministry of Communications is awaiting the results of their proposal requests. My village of Iva is still in the hunt.

Talent Show
The village says it wants one, but this their project now. I shall remind them that the holidays will be here soon. I should realize two months is a long way off for many Samoans.

Money Lending
The sale of my vegetables means I have money and when you have money in Samoa this means you are a source of funds. So I loan. Some gets repaid in the morning, only to be loaned again to the same person that evening. I am slowly becoming accustomed to this way of life, which I promptly plan to discontinue upon returning to the US.

Saw my apiarist in his truck with tires almost flat due to his load of honey. I said I was sorry about the reticence of my host family to build a shelter, but that there were a few pieces of lumber where the shelter is to be built. “Don’t worry”, he said. It was obvious to me that the efforts of my bees contributed to his heavy load.

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