The Plan!

written 10/27

After two weeks of living in a hidey-hole and many conversations with Sam and Ana, our plan for the year is ready to be released. Just a note: this was created 100% by members of 2Seeds, without any input from Taborans. This means it is guaranteed that some parts of the plan won’t make sense in the context of Tabora and that some of the way we intend things to work out just will not. Rest assured that this plan will change as the year goes on, hopefully in a process of fine-tuning and not in a process of desperate attempts to find things that work.

We have decided that one of the largest barriers to getting the gardens up and running has been a lack of motivation. KCJ understands generally what the gardens are for, but not in a powerful enough way to motivate them to put in the hard work to create the gardens. We want to spend a lot of this year cultivating that motivation by showing people the importance of nutrition and giving them a desire to improve it.

Consequently, our plan for the year focuses much more strongly on nutritional education than it does on gardening. We also decided that it may be easier to begin people with gardens on a smaller scale- the amount of initial work that goes into creating a KCJ-size garden before any vegetables are ever produced is very high, meaning that someone has to be willing to put in a lot of labor without seeing any results for a long time. We are hoping that in our plan for this year we can lower the barriers to entry by planting one plant at a time and ease people into having bigger gardens.

We have designed a year-long progression for our participants to follow that integrates discussion, education, and activities. We wanted to, on the advice of Sam and Ana, make it full of activity so that people could learn by doing and spend the whole year both learning about nutrition and practicing integrating it into their lives. We have a series of activities that range from straight educational sessions, to plantings, to discussions and reflections on how the information connects to their lives, to activities about cooking and foraging and purchasing food. By the end of the year we are hoping to have a number of individuals that have gone through the progression, have a solid understanding of the basics of nutrition and how it relates to their lives, and have begun making choices that let them eat a more nutritious diet, including growing some of their own vegetables. We see this as the foundation to future years of The Tabora Project, so that in the next few years PCs can put in place larger programs that can make a widespread difference in Tabora and hopefully reduce the dependence on corn and unreliable rain.

In the next few weeks we are hoping to have initial conversation with people all over to tell them about our project and gauge their interest and potential. Then we will start them along the progression. This is where the unknowns begin to come in- how will people respond to the activities and discussions? Will they be excited for each new step? Will some people want to go through the progression together, so that we are working with groups instead of individuals? Will people who already have gardens be interested- will we have to modulate our plan to work where they are instead of having them start teeny gardens that are redundant? We have planned about an activity a month, but we will see if that’s a reasonable schedule as we gain participants and begin to work through it.

There will also hopefully be a number of experts that come to Tabora to teach some of the trainings and concepts. These people will be able to explain things in Swahili better than we can, have a better idea of what appeals will really connect with Tanzanians, lend credibility to what we are saying, and give Taborans a model to look up to that comes from their own world. Right now we are planning on working with the Bibi Lishe that Ros and Rachael connected with last year and we are looking for more experts to partner with.

We are also hoping to have a few side programs that are not strictly part of the progression that allow people in Tabora to access nutritious food this year. We are thinking about and designing these programs and are hoping that through them we can have a broader reach than just the participants working through the progression.

There is a lot more planning to do- including designing our curriculum for teaching nutritional concepts. If you have any good suggestions about how to teach nutrition in an active way, or resources for edible foods in East Africa, we would love to hear about them.

What do you guys think? I’ve found that talking with people from home has been incredibly helpful to see avenues we have not considered and point out possible flaws or valuable questions. Any of your reactions or wonderings will be valuable and we would love to hear them.

Here’s our calendar for the year:

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One Response to The Plan!

  1. dory beatrice says:

    Hi, Jamie:
    I saw your Dad at a party for Ethel’s 90th b-day in NY, and we chatted a bit about your situation. Browsing your blog, wow there are so many challenges. You are tackling them with much courage and honesty. You know I’ve been involved in development work of various kinds through Rotary–in India, Lithuania and Bolivia. Obviously these countries are very different from Tanzania, yet I think there are some general principles that hold. In Bolivia we partnered with a local agency, Quaker Bolivia LInk, who had many years experience in putting in clean water projects and greenhouses. They had learned a lot through experience and lots of mistakes. They had developed these principles: 1) Only do projects that the people ask for; the villagers would initiate these requests; 2) the people must be willing to participate with the foreign workers and dig ditches for the pipes, etc. 3) When the workers built a greenhouse, they would also send a health care worker to the village to educate the people about hygiene, tooth brushing, water borne illnesses, etc. If you want I can get more info on how they went about this. 4) The villagers must be willingto set aside a few dollars out of their meager income for maintenance of water projects. Quaker Bolivia Link remaned available for follow up and repairs on a water project for several years. They learned much of this after witnessing many well-intentioned but abandoned water projects built by others–that the people did not ask for–and often the parts were stolen for other (preferred) uses. Also in Ecuador I met a guy from Quito who was doing agricultural development work in outlying villages. They wanted to teach the villagers better farming methods. But they didn’t want to be the outside “expert” coming in and saying “I can do this better than you.” Instead, they planted their own little plot of land, with each step being watched by the locals. When their crop was impressive, the locals wanted to know more, and then things took off. I see you are starting something like this with your own garden. Would it be helpful to you to have someone from Rotary who has done a lot of work in Africa to consult with by email or your blog? I have someone really marvelous in mind; I’ll ask him if you wish. Meanwhile, best wishes, Dory Beatrice

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