In less than 4 days, 84 or so PCTs (PC Trainees) will be arriving in Mali for their Pre-Service Training (PST). Hard to believe I was in their shoes this time last year where my life was consumed with packing and spending last moments with family and friends. It is too bad that they will not get to spend the 4th of July at home like we did but we will try our best to celebrate.
I'm excited to be a trainer for WATSAN (18 trainees) and I expect to learn alot and gain a fresh perspective on my service. I am sure I will be updating more with details. Already it has been an intense preparation period (including two week long training workshops) and interesting being on the other side of training.
Though my current location is Tubaniso and I will be spending very little time in the next two months in Zeala, progress was made on the garden before I left. Most of the fence has been built though I need to buy some more materials and send them soon. Digging the 56 holes in a straight line, to the same size, in rocky soil was not easy for the women and the posts are by no means the same height but we were still able to hang the griage. I also don't think any cows will be getting through.
Unfortunately, problems with the first well digger persisted and he will not be finishing the first well he started. Mogo nenaman te ani a ka maloya ka dogo (He is not a good person and has little shame...) We hired two more diggers from village to start the second well but progress has halted for the rainy season and we probably will not be able to start digging until January or February. Not exactly to the timeline planned for project but that is how things go sometimes. I have learned a lot from this project and it was a good starter.
B. WATSAN Committee
The past two months we have held several meetings to start organizing a WATSAN project in the village (repair pumps, get a pump repair kit, top well repair, soak pits, and latrines). This is a tall order but we have been going item by item and I think we will be able to pull it off. Plus my homologue is really motivated and understands project planning.
In other news we did finally finish the soak pit and latrine in my landlords concession after such a long process. I'm really excited to have my own soak pit now and not be contributing standing water into my concession :) However, they do not sweep the latrine regularly which I have been trying to reinforce.
C. Cooperative Multifunctional
Me and my homologue made a program together for all our work through Januray which has been really helpful. We hope to still work to establish a multifunctional cooperative with shea butter, womens garden, food security, and WATSAN in it.
D. Rainy Season
Otherwise, hot season is officially "over" and I found the transition from hot to rainy season the worst and had some pretty bad heat rash for a several weeks. Though I at least had mangos and slept outside a lot. In my village, we have had a few storms but not much yet while villages closer to Bamako have already started planting their millet and peanuts. It is the fantayan waati (poverty season) where many people have run out of grain and are forced to buy it at high prices with credit. So hopefully the rains come soon and they can start planting.
TOP WELL REPAIR
Traveled to another PCVs site to help evaluate her top well repair project basically checking if they were following the improved practices shown to them (closing the door, washing clothes far away, hanging the well bag, treating the well, etc.) A lot of the wells were following the correct practices but some were not and needed to be reminded. It was a very positive experience and gave me ideas for top well repair in my village and also project evaluation.
Me and Justin should be going to an engineering conference on sustainble development in Nigeria at the end of July. We will both be delivering a presentation and it should be a great opportunity to network and see what research is being conducted in W. Africa.
Otherwise, been training for the Ghana Marathon September 26th with a several other PCVs (some running, some cheering). It should be a really good experience and great to see Ghana again and hopefully up north since I didn't really get up there. Helps to be at the training center with protein in my diet.