I somehow find it hard to believe that I’ve been living abroad for the past five years. 2010 seems so far away and yet so close at the same time. I remember during my first year abroad I was counting days, so aware of the time that I’d been away from the US. Now, as time moves on the anniversary passes by suddenly, hardly noticed, rather than a celebrated date or time of recognition, more of an afterthought. Thinking back to the Me that was five years ago is strange because I feel a little disconnected from that person, like he no longer exists. It’s interesting to think how I’m both the same and different from before and what would have happened had I chosen a different path. In the past five years I’ve learned so much about the world, international development, people, and about myself. Looking back to January 2010 I never would have been able to create a 5-year plan that has played out the way that it has, but now I can’t imagine my life moving in a different direction.

As I wait to hear back from Graduate schools I can’t help but think more about decisions and what path to take. In some ways it scares me to think that there is a right and a wrong decision, but ultimately I know that’s not the case. I don’t even know if I can say that one choice is better than another either, simply a different path to a different destination. It makes me think how cool it would be if we could live multiple lives, simultaneously, living every path we could have chosen and comparing them all to one another. Likely, it would be impossible to tell which is better than the other and I’d still be in the same predicament that I am now. But as for now I’ve been accepted to three schools and I’m still waiting for the fourth to respond so I’m sure I’ll write about it in a future blog.

But I must regress from the future and return to the present. Work seems to be going rather smoothly over the past couple weeks. I’m not sure how much can be attributed to people and how much to myself. If a vacation really gave me the recharge that I needed or whether it gave others the boost of reality that I’m not always going to be here to help. Then again it might just be things working themselves out naturally and as always – some things just take time.

We had both of our household garden workshops. The project helped 20 women last year and they are still included, but we added an additional 20 women for this year. We separated the two groups for the introductory workshop because they have different skill levels, but will join them all together for the nutrition workshops. I think the introduction was important for the home based caregivers, the home gardeners, and the implementers of the project because it allows everyone to know we are serious. The home gardeners know that we expect them to actively participate and be interested or motivated, we ask the home based care givers to actually complete household visits, and the implementers gained confidence speaking to the groups and to take ownership of the project; it is very exciting if it continues to work. So we had the workshops and some people received seedlings and we’ve also done a lot of planning. We’re trying our best to get everything does as planned and we’ll see what actually happens when it happens. So far, the household visits seem to be good and we’re making progress so I hope in the next few months we’ll have 40 awesome gardens all around the community.

Work on the farm is still ongoing and as physical as ever. Although we finally got a tractor and a disc, we did a lot of land preparation by hand so that we could get started. Unfortunately, we had a few weeks of crazy heat at the same time that we transplanted and many of the spinach seedlings that we planted were burned. It’s another reminder of how limited we are with the work schedules and why we need to be more flexible in order to gain success. However, we’ve planted spinach, beets, mustard, tomatoes, and onions and we are preparing more land to plant in the future. I’m hoping that by April the land is close to being filled up and it really looks like a farm again. We just need to do more marketing and planning for sales so that we can turn over quickly rather than harvesting and losing time not knowing what we are going to do. Moral is fading with the workers and I’m worried that the elation from the Holidays has worn off and people are reluctant to work again – the struggle continues.

There’s a chance that the Organization will receive funding from the Government to help with an Aquaculture-Agriculture project. Basically it would be four fishponds that have Tilapia and Ducks that then feed water into fields for agriculture. It looks like a strong model and I really hope that they get the funding because I think that it would help out the agriculture team to not only make money, but become more involved and motivated in the project because the outcomes or profits would depend on their efforts and determination.

I’ve given up on the pre-school and the afterschool program…at least for now. It’s not that I’m not interested, and I can make time if I felt that it were necessary, but I just don’t feel like it’s a great use of my time. I think if I wasn’t busy I would pursue it a bit more, but for now I feel like there isn’t enough support and I don’t have the time to be with them everyday. At some point people need to want to be involved in certain projects and not just ask for assistance and expect others to help or even do their job. That isn’t to say that they aren’t doing their job, it just means that what I was doing wasn’t structured enough to be useful. Although I have a meeting for the Afterschool program and so we’ll see if we make any progress.

Although we completed the nursery, we’re still waiting on some finalizing material. I really hope that we can plant seeds this month, but I’m not sure that it will happen. I think the Nick in November would be very frustrated with the speed that this is moving along, but I think I’ve learned to simply deal with what is available and the speed that things move naturally. I still make a push and I light my fires, I think I just push a little lighter and only burn when it’s absolutely necessary.

I was reading for a while, but that all ended when I started watching Scandal. People have been telling me to watch it for a while and so I finally gave in. It’s weird because very few episodes make me want to watch the next one immediately or go through the entire season in a day, but I like the stories and it keeps my interest so I seem to be putting back episodes rather quickly.

As for life in the village not much has changed. The kids still yell/chant “Nicky” all the time. I say hello to a hundred people every hundred meters, but it doesn’t really bother me anymore. I still walk 10 times faster than the average person here, but I can slow down and only be slightly irritated. I’m working on my resolution of being patient, but I have relapses pretty regularly. I’m still doing things on the weekends with friends and the socializing has put my face out to more of the community. I’m back to living a life of constant surveillance and sometimes it bothers me, but I’m more or less used to it. I sometimes think that life in the US might be nice for a while just so people don’t notice me, so that I don’t need to perform, but can simply just be me for a while. It might be relaxing. I’m eating more peanut butter and eggs (separately of course) and less meat, but I think I just haven’t gotten around to walking to the butcher lately. With all the physical labor though my metabolism just keeps at an alarming rate, but I feel healthy. More than anything I feel comfortable here, now. And in some ways it’s a bad thing. As I get closer to my close date I’m realizing that I’m really going to miss this place and the people that I both work with and socialize with. That they really have become a part of my life and that I’m thankful for my time here. And, I guess, for the time being I should just enjoy it.

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