So, I’ve just returned from my gardening project and I’ve very disappointed. Not only was no-one there, but I also got to see the havoc that chickens are causing, seeing as the families involved STILL haven’t put up the fence that they promised about 2 months ago. Knowing that money is very tight, I have not placed any economic burden on them through this project (quite the contrary), but I think it much better to work with people rather than them becoming dependent on your hand-outs, so while I was bankrolling the project, the deal was that they would put their effort in to care for the garden (of which the fence was just one part of their responsibilities). No effort from them means that I’ve decided to withdraw until such time as they show their interest by putting up a fence at least. Otherwise, all the gardening project is achieving is feeding slugs and chickens….

The problem with deciding that you’re going to leave somewhere is that all the work you had stretched before you over the next few months gets compressed into much less time. The start of the next module at the Training Centre is mid-May, by which time I need to have written 2 new business courses from scratch, both teachers’ books and textbooks. That’s going to be a tall order in itself, but add to that the need to get the toilet project and the home-gardening project with the families finished and a new smokeless stoves project started before June, then it’s going to be a very, very busy few weeks ahead!

Being a teacher brings with it the inevitable marking. Well, in theory, at least. I’d spent last week teaching most of my students about how to design questionnaires and set them the homework of doing market research questionnaires for the products they are going to launch. From one of my classes, I only picked up one piece of coursework today (and not a very good piece at that), so I guess I won’t be spending quite so long marking as I thought.

With some time of my hands, I went out to see the Vegetable Garden I started with some families in one of the villages. I’ve been told that the families keep talking about it and are very proud of what they’ve been able to do (showing that it’s not just about improving diet, but self-esteem too). It was a bit of a surprise, therefore, to see that there were stinging nettles everywhere; it hadn’t been fenced in while I was away as promised and that something has been eating the cabbages. I’ll have to organise a workshop with the families to address some of these issues…

The home gardening workshop went well. Arthur, who came with me, was very encouraging and said it was obvious how good a rapport I had with the families and that they had really responded to what I was sharing with them. We made a raised bed (a new concept for them) and then planted it with 5 different seeds. What was most encouraging for me is that, in a culture where working together is often absent, the families themselves have decided to get together and do a communal garden – a very exciting development as far as I am concerned.

Afterwards, we took the car down to Lima and only nearly died once – overtaking on a blind bend is not quite what I had in mind when I asked our driver to get us there safely!! It was good to get there and relax!

My busy week and a half translating in various conference sessions and workshops for Arthur and Pete has reached an end. They’ve gone really well, but it is quite tiring to be constantly thinking in 2 languages and trying to remember who needs to hear what.

Off to Lima tomorrow (after giving a workshop on home gardening) to take Arthur and Pete to the airport before flying off ourselves on the 2nd to Brazil and Paraguay. Feeling exhausted, so hoping that a break will be just what the doctor ordered.

After a bit of an all-nighter, I have finally got to the stage of having all 4 courses ready… just need to go an find a printer… Hoping that they should all be ready for tomorrow

I am done in and how wonderful it would be to enjoy a day off tomorrow before the camp starts with 150 kids but, unfortunately, it is the only chance I have, before being out of action for a while, to visit the community where I am doing the Home Gardening Project and speak with the folk there about what they would like to plant and what size of garden they can make available. Never thought that a kids camp would be my opportunity to rest!!

I’ve now got my team of experts – my in-house nutritionist(!) and now an agriculturalist from a local NGO (charity) – who will be advising me on the technical side of  home gardening. He’s too busy with his own work to run workshops and training events with me, but at least he can train me before I train others!!

In response to a need for better nutrition, I’m now working with 5 families in one community to teach them healthy eating and also promote it through home gardening (they lack green veg especially in their diets).  A survey I did with them, showed universal food insecurity (not having enough to eat and not eating the right stuff), so I’m hoping that this project will be a bit help in that area. And, seeing as we are what we eat, hopefully their health will improve and allow them to work more and earn more. A double bonus.

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