Hey y’all! It’s been awhile so I thought I’d give you guys a big update on our recent activities!
I bet you have been wondering if we’ve actually done any fish farming, since, you know, that’s our primary project. The answer is: YES! We have one active fishpond that was stocked earlier this year and was just harvested. Our farmers were able to sell all their fish plus had some for their own dinner that night. We have another fishpond in the works with our HIV/AIDS counterpart, who is already integrating his pond with rape, maize, and sugarcane gardens around it. Being first-generation volunteers in our community, getting fish farming (or any) projects started has been a struggle because the community isn’t exactly used to a volunteer living and working among them, but we are managing to get a few things done while paving the way for the next volunteer.
We took two girls and a mentor to Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) and also took two boys and a mentor to Camp ELITE (Empowering Leaders In Training and Equality). These were both week-long camps where the kids learned all about HIV/AIDS, gender equality, relationships, higher education, business skills, and more. We had a blast with our kids and are working with them to bring some of the knowledge they picked up at camp back to the village.
We recently started Grassroot Soccer at the primary school in our village. This program teaches the kids about HIV/AIDS, healthy lifestyles, relationships, and gender equality through different soccer activities. So far the kids absolutely LOVE it and we have heard from the teachers that on the days we have lessons, the kids will show up to school at 6AM because they are so excited to learn and play soccer.
Mosquito Net Distribution:
In May we started working with the Ministry of Health to coordinate a mosquito net distribution in our village. After some meetings and small debacle with getting shorted a few hundred nets, we were eventually able to distribute over 1000 nets in our community. Because we don’t have any staff at our clinic, people in our community have to travel about 20 kilometers to receive any sort of medical care. We are hoping everyone uses their nets to reduce the cases of malaria this coming rainy season.
So Many Animals:
We currently have 2 dogs (Dave and Skinny), 1 cat (Jean) and 4 kittens residing at our house. Our cat was gone for about 2 months (obviously getting pregnant) and just came back a few weeks ago, probably because our house is the safest place to give birth. The kittens are still tiny and mostly immobile, but if they’re anything like the last batch of kittens I am not looking forward to them getting older. Kittens are the worst; they destroy everything. Plus, mama cat will start bringing in dead rats/birds/lizards for them to eat, meaning we will wake up every morning to what looks like a massacre in our living room. One night, she brought in 6 rats and a bird. There were feathers EVERYWHERE.
Funny (or gross) story: one morning I woke up to a kitten crunching on a mouse while sitting on my stomach. I quickly pulled the blanket over my head and pleaded with Brett to wake up and get rid of it. I guess that is one of the benefits of serving in the Peace Corps with your spouse…
While we’re on funny animal stories, when Skinny had puppies last December, one had an unfortunate accident involving our toilet. One morning, while I was still asleep, Brett came running in saying he couldn’t find one of the puppies. I immediately asked if he looked in the toilet. He told me he had not, but when he went in there to do his morning business, the cover that we have to keep bats out was pushed into the hole and he had assumed the culprit was a goat. So, he went outside armed with a flashlight and about a minute later ran back into the house to tell me the puppy was indeed knee-deep in poo at the bottom of our toilet. The hole is at least a few meters deep, so we had to fashion a loop out of rope, coax the little guy to the middle where the poop was deepest, loop it around his neck, and pull him up. I am honestly not sure how this ended up working but we got him out in less than 5 minutes. I think the bath I gave him after was more traumatizing than being in a poop-filled hole. He eventually was adopted by a fellow PCV in our province and was named “Chim,” short for chimbusi, which means toilet.
Last Christmas, we had the opportunity to visit Chimfunshi Chimpanzee Orphanage in Chingola. It was absolutely incredible. We were able to do an hour long “bush walk” with a group of 5 chimpanzees that we got up-close and personal with (they picked through our treat-filled pockets and rode on our shoulders while we walked around!). We were also fortunate enough to get to spend some time with the founder and her daughter in their house, where they were raising a 6-month old chimp whose mother had died. Around their compound they also had two very friendly sheep, dogs, peacocks, vervet monkeys, ducks, and chickens. Unfortunately, their pet hippo had died a few years ago but she sounded amazing from the stories the founder told us about her.
After our Midterm Conference in May, we headed to Nkhata Bay, Malawi to visit Lake Malawi. The lodge we stayed at was beautiful, built right into the rocks on the side of the lake. Our room had a beautiful view of clear, blue waters and its own little private walkway down to the lake. It seriously looked like the ocean. We got to swim every day, snorkel, canoe, eat delicious food, and explore the town.
We are headed to Livingstone next month to see the famous Victoria Falls. We plan on swimming in Devil’s Pool and going on at least 1 safari, so we will post an update we return!