In the last few days we’ve held our meeting and initiated our researching field trips. The meeting went really well and was a really great demonstration of how important both the directors and the pcs are in the relationships with the project partners. A pc is only supposed to be here for a year but being a director is a multi-year position. Because of this (and that they are overseeing multiple projects) they have both a shallower relationship with the partners in each village and a longer-standing one than the pcs. Their Swahili skills and knowledge of the culture grants them a higher level of respect from our partners. During the meeting Ashley and I would say our pre-written piece and then Ana would expound. Although this felt a bit to me like it rendered me unnecessary, it was really helpful in both displaying Ashley and my role in captaining the project and allowed the women to really grasp what we were trying to communicate. Ana has a great knack for connecting with people here and explaining things in terms that they understand. The women really respect and love her. By the end of the meeting the women were, very happily, ready to break up into groups and go on field trips for the two topics. The women who will be learning about chickens told us they are ready any day at any time, all we have to do is tell them when the field trip will be. The women in the food processing group very quickly came up with days that they would like to go and formed into groups to research.
I went home incredibly pleased- our pushing back didn’t seem to make the women disgruntled or obstinate and they do seem willing to learn about both. Yesterday we went on our first field trip about keeping chickens and today, when I left for the airport, a group of women left with Ashley to learn about food processing. They all seem very willing and I hope that we will be able to open their eyes to things they had not thought about before and really push them to think critically about what they need to learn to choose and how to make a good decision.
As for me, I’m about to take a week and a half vacation to the UAE and Sri Lanka. One of my best friends is getting married and will live in Sri Lanka, so I will be flying out for her wedding. She’s a Bohra Muslim and ethnically Indian, so this wedding will be unlike any I will probably ever go to again. My other best friends from college are also flying out to attend, and I am incredibly excited to see them. Along the way I will be hanging out with my friend in the UAE (I’m basically extending my layover for a few days to see him). This year I will be accruing more stamps in my passport than ever before, but mostly I’m really just excited to see my friends.
Ashley will be leading the field trips in my absence and hosting the founder of 2Seeds and his wife. My trip happens to coincide with the Stakeholder’s Trip- a time when the board members, mentors, funders, and friends of 2Seeds come to visit our projects, get to understand our life here, meet our partners, and reflect on the direction and future of the organization. Jim and Jen Meeks will be staying in our house for a night (so I’ve spent the last day cleaning) and will get to learn about Tabora and the work we’ve bee doing here.
So for now, goodbye to Tanzania and hello carpets, air conditioning, cheese, and friends. I’ll see Tabora when I return!
Also, new pictures are up! go here https://picasaweb.google.com/115746761657648935449 to see safari photos and more pictures fromt he end of the year.