Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Chapter 2: Chickens! No, Tomatoes! (Are We Sure We Don’t Want Chickens?)

So, one fine September morning, I walk into the office, prepared for the usual desk-sitting-staring-at-the-computer kinda day, procrastinating working on the still-not-completed computer manual, when I am turned around at the door. Mma Legodi informs me that we are going to the Department of Agriculture because she heard about a funding opportunity that we had to take advantage of right! now! Of course, I offer no protest as this legitimizes my procrastination (see above), so off we go. Two taxis later, and watching Mma Legodi argue with the taxi driver to get us dropped off at the right place, we’re at the Department and I hear more about why we came.

The previous Friday, an agriculture extension worker came by to do a needs assessment. This young man had visited before and told us that there was a new director at the Department and that we should talk to her as soon as possible, before she has already committed to funding other projects. In other words, now was the perfect opportunity for influence and manipulation! Except that things don’t go according to plan. First of all, to this day, I haven’t met a new director. I don’t think she exists. And whether the extension worker misunderstood, or Mma Legodi misunderstood him, or I misunderstood Mma Legodi, or some permutation of those three, we didn’t meet her. Instead, we met with Mr Nkuna, one of the managers there. Mr Nkuna is a friendly man, with a simple happy expression on his face that one doesn’t immediately associate with government workers. Instead, it seems more appropriate to a three year old boy who just got a new puppy. This is not the first time that Mma Legodi and Mr Nkuna have met, I found out. In fact, he had previously donated mango tree seedlings to MWC, started by his son. 300 of them. Although this seems like a promising connection, most of these trees died in a fire started by the garden workers to burn up the weeds (this is not a recommended practice). Mr Nkuna thus didn’t think that MWC was all that responsible, number one, and number two, he felt personally slighted for his son. Hmmm.

But, all was not lost! Mr Nkuna had a good experience with another Peace Corps Volunteer, Brandi, in starting a poultry project. Which, I discovered at the moment, was what we wanted to do. Because we had started one before. Without a lot of research. And all the chickens died. Within a matter of months. So, if you’re keeping score there are two strikes against MWC and one personal foul, but the team with a PCV gets an automatic free throw and bonus points for good behaviour (no, I don’t know what game metaphor I’m using, either). So, Mr Nkuna arranges a visit to Brandi’s site to see her poultry project, even though she’s not there and is leaving for the States the following day. But, she’s got a nice project, and we leave the project with some enthusiasm and the homework assignment to write a letter of request outlining what we wanted to do.

And, that’s all for today. I’m tired. Stop by later for Chapter Three: “Wait, I Thought You Said Something About Tomatoes!” And so I did.

1 comment:

Rosetta Kastama said...

As I respond to these latest entries, your cats have me surrounded -- Cheza is on the desk, purring, with his rump nicely situated in the sun; Aluna is on the floor behind me, with her face and front paws warmed in the sun. They (especially Aluna) certainly have stuck close to us since we got back from SA.

I love reading these entries. You told us about the chickens a long time ago and maybe the mango trees. Poor chickens and trees -- you will do much better with tomatoes.

Your wit really shines in these stories, as well as your desire to reach your goals, two admirable qualities that will serve you well the rest of your life.