Sunday, April 24, 2011

Getting Ready For The Rains

I had been gardening every morning with my buddy Moussa Diallo throughout the dry season (November-May), but with the end of that cycle gardening has been tapering off. I have since started pepineering a number of trees in tree sacks in preparation of Agroforestry Season (coinciding with the rainy season May-October). I currently have nearly 100 Guava trees, 50 Acacia nilotica (a fast-growing, nitrogen-fixing, thorny live-fencing species), and about 150 Cashew trees growing behind my hut. With these trees I plan to supplement the supply that will be needed to complete the number of projects I have planned with people from the community. Among those planned projects are 18 live fences (closely-spaced trees are employed in lieu of dead fence posts or chicken wire to yield a longer-lasting, self-pruning, possibly nitrogen-fixing barrier), 10 cashew plantations, 10 mango plantations, and a few orange plantations. How many of these projects are finally realized remains to be seen, as it is up to the planner to come to me for instruction and training – I’ve already had a few no-shows for training appointments.

Peace Corps technical work takes a little push and pull to make progress. So much developmental work in Africa is the standardized NGO coming in to pay people to do trainings while also handing out materials and more money for project startup. Anyone is going to show up for a handout, wouldn’t you? But the Peace Corps’s motive is to give ideas and training with the notion that that will last much longer than money or materials.

“Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime” is a common proverb I use when I explain the Peace Corps to potential work partners.

Additionally, it is up to the people to come seek me out for help. They know I am here, and after a number of months they should know why I am here. This may sound like a lazy approach, and in a smaller village of only a couple hundred people this might be a recipe to get nothing done, but in a city of just over 2500 it is a measure of motivation. I try to make myself available and visible in the community, and I never write off an idea, but there are too many people accustomed to handouts that I need to filter out. If only one of the roughly forty projects is completed because only one person was motivated enough to get it done, then I’ve accomplished something by finding that one motivated person.

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