Hope all is well.
I miss the farm every day.
We've been keeping busy over here, but sometimes (often actually) it can be hard to tell what we should be doing, or if our projects will even be taken to heart by the villagers. At the farm I knew what had to be done, and felt useful, and knew I was contributing in a meaningful way. I didn't realize how much I would miss that kind of structure.
We take it one day at a time. Some days go quick: hiking through the foothills, eating guavas and chewing on cinnamon leaves, pulled from trees along the path. Some days go much slower. Trying to tell a room full of riled up 1st graders, that no, it's not okay for the boys to smack the girls, even if there principal says It’s okay, is frustrating.
Choosing more carefully who to work with is helping. Those people who take the time and are patient with us in trying to understand our Nepali are much more pleasant to work with, and generally more receptive to new ideas, so we are working more these days with those people. When we first got here we felt like we should be trying to help everybody, and were making ourselves crazy trying to be everywhere at once.
We had to take a step back and tackle projects one at a time.
Currently we are working with a group of 8 volunteers to organize a 4-day youth Camp Grown. It’s agriculture based and aimed at giving teenagers opportunities to learn outside of their overcrowded schools. One major concern we have noted in village is a lack of local opportunities for the young people of the village. With this camp we will help address that concern. To that effect we are also trying to start an after school club at the local government school to teach some improved agriculture techniques to some young people and to help identify enthusiastic participants for the camp.
The camp will be the 2nd week of February and just yesterday we turned in our grant. Our group was struggling with the budget, so I volunteered.
"I'll make a spreadsheet," I said. They were all amazed that if you changed a price, or added a new line, all the totals updated automatically. "Excel can do that?" I told them that that was nothing and they should have seen the spreadsheets I used to work on back home. It was my first experience writing a grant, but it didn't feel too much harder than looking at and explaining inventory numbers.