Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Hectic Day

Well, the good news is that my cold/sore icky throat/glandular fever/unidentified fatigue thing from last year seems to have made an unwelcome return. Which is going to make this volunteering thing rather less fun. Especially if I lose my voice when teaching.

Let's hope not though, eh? With any luck it'll pass before things get ridiculously busy next week, when the secondary school tutoring starts.

Today has been utterly mad. Mostly I have been running around with limited time while Oswin has had to go to a funeral. Luckily I could copy and paste this from my laptop having typed it this morning, so I can still blog.

Yesterday, Oswin and I received the surprising but welcome news that we're going to have two volunteers, called Krista and Liz, coming to help us. And they're coming tomorrow. They've just come into Tanzania via Zambia and are currently wending their way from Mbeya to Makombako.

As usual, there has been some excitement the last few days. On Sunday I met with Oswin's friend, Regina, in town and we went to Peramiho, to see her uncle's project. It was also the local cup semi-final between Mpangangindo and neighbours Tanga the same day, so we went to watch that later.

My very good friend from my SPW days, Getruda, had shown me round Peramiho when I was here two years ago, and it turned out that Regina was a couple of years below her in school. Regina was quite surprised when I told her that Getruda was 8 months pregnant, which is a piece of news from a couple of weeks ago that I forgot to post here.

Vende claims that in an email ages ago he mentioned Getu having "something in the oven", but I clearly didn't read that particular missive properly.

The project Regina's uncle set up is called Peramiho Agro-Vet, which was set up in 1992 to promote good agriculture in the community. They now have 50 hectares on which they teach young people qualifications in agriculture, so they can have good employment in the future, and also promote good practice to others.

They also have a vocational training school, which teaches lots and lots of trades and has some machinery (so someway further developed than the Hoja-COCO VTC). They also have HIV/Aids education on the go, and provide occasional help in the way of food (and possibly other things) to orphans and people living with HIV.

I didn't really see much as it was Sunday and nothing was happening - we only really talked about what they do. It's certainly an interesting project and I'll go back and have a look again when there is more activity.

They're after new machinery and to fix broken machinery and they want volunteers to come from Europe to create a bit more interest in the project. I told them I thought it probably wasn't COCO's sort of project, but I'd do a little research and see if I can find other organisations that might be able to help them. I think they've done remarkably well largely with local funding.

Looking through a directory Oswin has acquired from another project he's friends with, there are in fact more organisations that seem appropriate to agricultural projects than there are to Hoja. And a scary number of American donors exist purely to evangelise (with no other stated goals).

Later the football was very exciting, even if I was made to wear an Arsenal shirt and effectively act as the team's mascot. It was clearly a very serious affair - the pitch was roped off and there was even a stand. We were sat on the team bench and were told off a couple of times for having too many people. It ended in a 0-0 draw, and unfortunately Tanga won 4-2 on penalties.

On Monday we visited Tanga Primary School, where the Head Teacher asked for extra furniture and then tried to get me drunk. Which makes it sound more dodgy than it was - as usual, it was a case of someone trying to be hospitable. I managed to avoid getting drunk, thankfully, and even got to watch some CNN, which spend far longer than warranted on their two main stories (General Motors' bankruptcy and Air France's missing jetliner), and told me absolutely nothing else about goings-on in the world.

And that brings you pretty much up to date. Apart from the police commandeering the local bus on Monday morning (it reappeared in the afternoon), and me finishing reading another book. I'm going to run out of things to read quite quickly, I think.

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