11th May 15, 2007
Falling into place - that’s the phrase I would use to define my work. It only took 9 months for me to actually feel like progress was being made (or at least approached). Granted my efforts have shifted focus a bit from my feeble attempts at following in my predecessors footsteps with farming initiatives to my now broad organizing work around the vague themes of Life Skills, HIV and AIDS education, gender awareness and equity, the importance of education, and the struggle to end stigma and discrimination relating to VCT and knowing ones status. Plans in the works for the near future include:
~ Peer educator 4 day training for local youth in the villages surrounding Koni Basic School
~ Sensitization lessons for teachers, PTA executive commity, and parents
~ Lessons and discussions held with the women at the local monthly under 5 clinics
~ Mobile VCT/media events at Mutomboko Ceremony and World AIDS Day
~ Workshop training traditional birth attendants and banacimbusas (women that pass on knowledge to young girls preparing for marriage) regarding HIV and the increased rate of infection in women
~ Boys and girls camps stressing the importance of finishing school and highlighting HIV and the Gender divide
…most of which we are hoping to have completed before September. The Life Skills training for local teachers (held in April) was successful in identifying motivated counterparts ~ making the stress of dealing with petty complaints from ‘bwana’ teachers worth every painful minute. Those teachers who were in attendance are now the main organizers for the above events. Only time will tell how long their efforts and motivations last - similar problems are faced here as in the US in regards to low teacher salaries and financial support -understandably hindering some peoples desire to work outside of the scheduled day.
The rains have ceased ~ though somewhat reluctantly. Moisture, now, only briefly escapes the stronghold of the sky, leaving life on the ground to prepare for seven months of dryness. The once vibrant greens of towering vegetation have now crisped and dwindled into a browning landscape, while the crackling fury of an illegal early burn breaks the stillness of the afternoon silence. The temperatures still soar into the range of New England summers, evident by the streams of perspiration on the faces of each passerby. However, as brilliant coolness blankets the morning ~ allowing the cozy satisfaction of snuggling into an otherwise useless sweatshirt. The rocks and downed trees begin to peak out amidst the flowing river as it once again loses its elevated standing and returns to being a meandering stream. The chaos of growth, prepping fields, feeding, planting, new life, weeding has subsided as life seems to once again slow like the flow of the Ngoni.