Friday, May 01, 2015

Nutrition, Wool, and Inspiration

I love where I live. My village is my home. Other than not being able to see many of my friends and family, my life is pretty much perfect right now. 

My organization and I work in my village and the four surrounding villages. As a PCV, a huge responsibility is to build capacity and help the people in my area gain the skills and initiative to do things for themselves instead of building a reliance on me as a person or representative of outside aid. 

One of my absolute favorite things about my area is that the villagers in my area are constantly taking the initiative to make their own living situations better. I cherish and celebrate the many things I see them doing.  Sometimes I wonder if they even need a PCV, as they are clearly already working in the right direction, then I remember that getting a PCV is just one example of their ingenuity. 

Over the last few months, I have been involved in a number of wonderful activities that have highlighted the resourcefulness of my community. Here are a sampling of them:

Wool and Mohair Growers Association:
Recently a community I work with was able to get an SADP (Smallholders Agricultural Development Project) grant to start their own association. Many rural Basotho keep sheep and goats. The ability to collect and weigh the wool locally will allow the local livestock owners to work together when selling their product, hopefully giving them more power as sellers. 

Continued Growth in the Agricultural Block Scheme:
Our Agricultural Block Scheme started in the late 1980s, when our chief was able to encourage villagers to combine their land resources and to work their fields together. He was then able to secure a grant to pay for irrigation to be added to some of the fields. 

The scheme continues to meet success, as was celebrated at the Mokete ea Temo I attended and then mentioned again in the press as I shared in Mokete ea Temo: Celebrity Style.  Currently, three large greenhouses with irrigation are being installed thanks to assistance from Letsing Diamond Mines. This will allow the scheme to grow and sell some vegetables year round and provide a greenhouse to serve as a place to start crops before warm weather arrives. 

Beekeeping Workshop with Worldvision:
Last month, the local Worldvision office, who has worked closely with my community for a number of years, held a week-long beekeeping workshop and offered to help those interested in starting to keep bees. The workshop was well attended. 

Nutrition Workshop for Mothers with the Ministry of Agriculture:
I spent three days this past week in a Nutrition Workshop. Over 60 women-both women from my organization and young mothers-attended. The Ministry facilitators did an excellent job covering good nutrition as a whole, nutrition related illnesses and how to prevent them with proper nutrition, and much more. The final day included a practical in which the women learned to make a variety of foods for infants transitioning to solid food. 

This was particularly excited for me, partially because many people not involved in the above activities were included, but also because it marked one of the first times I have successfully spent learning a topic exclusively in Sesotho. Additionally, Butha Buthe has the second highest rate of stunting in children, with 43% of children considered to be stunted. Many of the young mothers who attended I also spend time with at the monthly Mother & Child Outreach Clinic in our village, so seeing a workshop designed to help them be better mothers and help youth achieve better rates of growth is particularly exciting to me. 

With all of these activities, the opportunity to be involved is an honor. While I would love to claim these activities as my own, it is even better to see that such wonderful things are happening without my influence! I am so blessed to live in a vibrant community that does not let its challenges keep it from trying!

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You should choose as your life's work whatever feels the most like play.
-Harvey Oxenhorn