I hope your spring going into summer is wonderful. Here it is nearly "winter" and getting very chilly in the Southern Highlands. Not like Nebraska winter chilly, but with no central heating or insulation and lots of drafty cracks in the house, certainly CHILLY. My guess is some nights it gets down into the 40s, and some days not warmer than 70. No complaints though, I'm still able to garden!
About ten days ago I returned to my village from In-Service-Training in Dar Es Salaam, where I learned that I have received $2,000 USD in grant money to initiate projects! The first projects will be at the school: renovating two classrooms, adding clear panels to the ceilings of all classrooms for more light, painting a mural of a world map, and constructing a garden and tree nursery for the students to learn how to care for vegetables, fruit and lumber trees as potential cash crops. In the village, the first project will be to improve the genetics of local chickens. This will involve distributing medicine to vaccinate all the chickens for a common virus (which modern breeds are more susceptible to), helping villagers build bandas (coops), bringing in modern roosters, and setting up a breeding program (second generation offspring are the best). The result will be chickens that are more productive in laying eggs and providing meat! The villagers are very excited about this project.
Currently I am on my way to a conference in Morogoro, which will be attended by all 110 Peace Corps volunteers in Tanzania. I'll return to Mafinga on Monday, regroup with all the Environment volunteers in my area, then go to the village of Itimbo for EcoCamp. We're each bringing 3 students and will be teaching fun things about trees/plants, animals/birds, the water cycle, good soil practices, and introducing the concept of Ecology. I'll then return to my village for two weeks, and hopefully be able to get several projects rolling, then go on vacation to Zanzibar for the International Film and Cultural Festival! I'll return again for two weeks, then go to an AIDS conference with a fellow villager, where we'll learn all the current statistics and be able to share what we've learned with other villagers.
With all this coming and going, it's going to be difficult to implement projects, but by August things should settle down, and I'll be in the village for longer periods of time. I've absolutely fallen in Love with Tanzania! It's people, the culture, and landscapes are all so beautiful. Time is flying; I can't believe my service is already 1/4 over!