“Jamono Dafa Sopeku”: Life Changes

Thursday, May 13, 2010

*Please read the post’s below to catch up on my activities. I also now have a Picasa account linked to my blog so you can see more pictures and the pictures my friends take!

Mud stove creation- using clay, sand, and manure, we made an imporved mud stove that cuts the cost of wood in half. The family we made it for uses it for every meal, and decreased cooking time by one hour per meal. My language group also tested it out ourselves by baking a dutch oven coconut cake on it I the last night of our home stay, sooooo good (I wonder who’s idea that was ??). 

Moringa Beignets- Basically doughnuts that are fortified with the highly nutritious Moringa leaf powder. I made these on my village visit with my hosts family. Many women sell these beignets in the markets, and by adding moringa powder, you increase the nutritional value without altering the flavor. I am thinking this could be a good area of research for my Master’s program. 

Neem lotion- The leaves of the neem tree are a natural pesticide, and when boiled then combined with basic soap and vegetable oil create a potent lotion that repells mosquitos that carry Malaria (the anopheles).  Half litre bag is enough for an entire family (5 ppl) for a mosquito season. Neem trees are prevalent throughout Senegal, so making the lotion is of little expense. We demonstrated this to a few women in my compound, and then one of the women showed her women’s group and introduced it as a income generating activity. (note that is women’s group is particularily motivated and has requested it’s own Peace Corps volunteer for next year). Neem info:http://www.planetnatural.com/site/xdpy/kb/neem-tree.html
Funny Disney Video on malaria transmission:  

Baseline survey- Practiced collecting data using the household survey method in our local language. The survey, with the use of popular aid mehcnasim PACA tools, gives a way for volunteers to gauge community need and desires for projects. 

Nutritional Porridges and the Hearth Model- The Hearth model is a specific teaching tool to combat child malnutrition, usually for children under age 5. There is huge success in holding 12 day wokshops where women make nutrient dense porridge for their weaned children, particularly important during the starving season.  By combining bananas, peanut butter, sugar, and millet flour, you have a tasty meal addition or substitute high in calories (it mocks Plumpy Nut, a nourishment substitute given out by food aid organizations). The women already sell porridge in the markets, so selling the cheap nutrition dense porridges could be lucrative. I ran out of time to practice this in my homestay, but cannot wait to try turning this into an income generating activity in my new home town! Plumpy nut and Hearth model links: http://www.ccih.org/forum/0105-03.htm

Garden update- Our garden is thriving, and we have since convinced the school guard, where the garden is located, to take ownership over it, so we handed him extra seeds and tools and let him go to work. After we were gone for a week, there was 4 new beds of Bissap (Hibiscus) planted , a bed of mint, and 2 beds lined for Mango and Lemon trees!! Yay go school gardens!

I am officially finished with my home stay. I will miss my routine, and family here, but I am glad to be moving on as I have more exciting adventure ahead of me. Not to mention the day I have been waiting for is finally nearing arrival in the next week…Swear-In, where I become an official Peace Corps Volunteer. In the last 3 weeks, I  have been particularly busy, as I spent most weekends travelling and the weeks in-between practicing my technical skills and language. 

In mid-April, the group travelled to Dakar to visit the American Embassy and the Peace Corps HQ. We went over the beurocratic aspects of being a volunteer, such as travel restrictins, payment schedules,  and general rules and regulations.  You can definitely see the influence of Western aid organizations in Dakar…there is a place called the American Club that is basically a country club on the beach. Despite what I had heard, I actually enjoyed Dakar, it was a refreshing taste of metropolitan lifestyle…I ate Lebanese food and had Gelato!!
The pinnacle of stress as a trainee also occurred in the last week and a half: the Counter Part Workshop. There were 80+ Senegalese people staying at our training center for 3 days, and life was just generally hectic. However the workshop itself was farely productive, and I learned a lot more about my activites in the coming months.

My two counter parts (partners in my community I work with) are awesome men! They are so motivated to try projects, and plan on doing their best to help me determine the needs of Ngodiba. Arona is the secretary of the Communite Rurale (local gov’t structure) and as well he works with health and urban ag folks and my new host dad on collaborative projects, yay! Malick is the president of the health post, and he spends 3 days a week doing baby weighings and malaria surveys in Ngodiba and surrounding villages, and the rest of the time works at the hospital in Kaffrine as a Community Health Worker. We outlined some of our goals in my 2 months before my In-Serivice Training in July, and they mainly include my integration into the community and doing research on community needs. They also plan to secure me a Wolof tutor and a French teacher in Kaffrine.

I will give more details on my Month to Month Action Plan after I install on May 14th.
We capped the week off with an amazingly hodge-podge soccer game, and then our entire training group rented a house on the beach in a French tourist town Popenguine. All I have to say is that the place was beautiful, and enough mayhem ensued among 41 people that most of it should not be shared on the web (In fact, I am the one who organized the weekend, I recognized a need of MY community, and that need was fun!).
Pic of the Beach!


Karla said...

CONGRATULATIONS FROM MOM AND DAD AND THE REST OF THE FAMILY ON YOUR SWEARING IN. Love your blog, it gets more interesting as it goes on. the video was awesome(?)!

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