Thursday, December 25, 2008

Progress Report- Month XVI

The past month is one of transition as I prepared to end some projects, return to the U.S. for the holidays, and set in motion projects for my final eight months of service.

Being able to get 200 diabetes test strips a month from the Health Department is a major hurdle overcome for my diabetes reduction program. They are the recurring expense in any effort to have a long lasting program. I am able to get some blood pressure monitors and scales in the U.S., so I should be able to start testing soon after my return to Samoa.

The disappointment about being stopped by the mayor to have a demonstration garden where people can actually see it and have access has taken the enthusiasm out of maintaining my own garden. I am turning my big garden over to the mayor's family and harvesting the remaining peanuts and sunflowers.

My goal is to work more closely on an individual basis with those people who already have gardens in my village and to work with the Women's Committee of the neighboring village of Vaisaulu on their village wide efforts at encouraging family garden plots. They have taken the effort to get free government money to buy supplies, unlike my own village who for some unprintable reason refuses to do so.

It is hard to withdraw from my own garden, which has provided me with so much pleasure and exercise. The garden in many ways is a microcosm reflecting what you like to do, what you think you are doing, and what actually happens. But, one never knows what has been set in motion.

New School
Official awarding by the Japanese and the start of construction by villagers is scheduled for January. I have gotten approval to apply for a grant to build a basketball court, although my suggestion to plant free fruit trees for future children's lunches has met with a cool response.

Cooking Lessons
People are slowly incorporating okra into their cooking. Like other parts of the world, there is more than taste needed for a food to be part of the diet. Besides availability, one needs to learn preparation, have proper utensils, and be willing to risk failure.

I plan to visit with the high school home econ teacher to see if she would be interested in learning how to make salsa, etc.

Small Business
The DVD business of the small store across the road continues to grow and the single mother owner is putting in a bank account. It is fun to help her as I collect used DVDs to take back for her her rent.

Sewing Machines
Just before returning, I asked the President of the Women's Committee what should I tell Mary about the sewing machines. She stumbled in her response knowing full well that their lack of use would disappoint Mary, who has become a legend in the village. I shall see if this little bullet prompts some action.

It is fun to be working with several of the newer volunteers on starting gardening and health projects in the villages. It is unfortunate that mentoring is not part of Samoa's Peace Corps training curriculum. Peace Corps seems to treat each incoming group as a separate entity, without making continued mentoring after training a part of a volunteer's duty.

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