Hello all. Well, my 3rd year with Peace Corps Nicaragua has officially commenced! Up until next August, 2014, I’ll still be here in Central America working the year away on further community projects and trying to make more of a dent with some of the families I've lived and worked with the past two years. Luckily I do get a long, whole month break (required by Peace Corps for those that extend a 3rd year) that I plan on taking in December, to take advantage of Christmas time of course. Then I plan on taking a trip to Peru with my friend Tina, who will be going back there after having already finishing her Peace Corps service to start a job there in the Amazon! Yeah, totally cool. So I’m going to get to have a month off at home, then take an “official” vacation to the Amazon region of South America. So excited, to say the least! My trip home in December will be the first time I've seen my family in a year. I haven’t left Nicaragua since I went home for Christmas last year.
The next big project I've gotten started/planned for my community is an improved swine husbandry project. Almost every family here has at least one pig they’re raising on their patios, whether it be to fatten up and sell or butcher themselves, or to breed and raise a litter of pigs to then sell or eat later on. But the management of these animals is sometimes minimal at best, and since animal husbandry is my background, I thought it might be useful to help these families improve how they take care of their pigs. The end goal is that the families are able to make more money off fatter and healthier pigs, and have better pork meat for sale/consumption. So I’ve contacted a local animal health inspector that works for an agricultural government agency, and with him we planned and gave a training session last week, which is the first of 3 that I have planned for the rest of this year. It focused on animal health care and some basic changes the community can make with their pigs to improve their overall health and management. Luckily, 16 people came and at the end seemed to have enjoyed the session, which gave me a boost of energy to keep the project going. The next activity I’m planning is a practical one where we all attend to some 2 week old pigs and give them some needed injections and also castrate the males. Most people don’t castrate the males until they’re several months old, which is physically more demanding and is more painful and potentially dangerous for the animal. So I’m trying to teach them that it’s better to castrate the young ones when they’re only around 2 weeks old, since they’re so much smaller it’s easier for the handler to do, it’s less painful for the animal, and they heal faster. This is my one big personal project I have planned for myself this year, so I really hope the community is receptive to my guidance and that we can find useful ways to improve their swine production.
The women’s baking groups have been getting more difficult to organize because so many people forget to come, or they don’t buy their ingredients in time, or various other reasons. So I’ve decided to lay off a bit and let the women come to me if they want to continue learning new recipes. I’m tired of working my ass off organizing the classes between 6 different groups, then having to remind each one of them individually a day or so before the class, then have no one show up the day of, or if they do show up they don’t have the right ingredients so they send someone to get them, which just takes up time during the class that we could be baking. It drives me crazy how forgetful and irresponsible some of these women can be! So, for my own sanity, I’ve told them I’m available to keep teaching, but they should contact me from now on with the dates and recipes they want to learn in the classes, which, based on their previous signs of motivation, probably means I won’t be teaching very many baking classes in the future. But that’s okay; if they’re not motivated enough to get it done, then it’s not worth my time and effort. I do have one last large activity planned regarding the improved ovens, however. I’m working with a small business volunteer on a baking charla that discusses using the ovens to start a small business selling baked goods. I’m planning on inviting every woman in my community, as well as 4 others in a nearby community where I’ve built ovens, to attend the charla and learn how to do a feasibility study on a particular baking product they think may sell in the community. And then I’ll go from there and work personally with the women who actually take it seriously and show a real interest in using the ovens for income generation.
The girl’s youth group has also kind of petered out a bit in the last month or so. That’s partly due to a funeral that occurred a few weeks ago, where the activities of the 9 days of mourning after the funeral took up some of the days I had activities planned for the club. Hopefully September will bring more time to get the club up and going again. The school garden is an activity that’s just barely hanging on. I don’t make much time to keep an eye on the 5th and 6th graders to make sure they’re tending to the garden (which they won’t when left to it on their own, of course), so the garden will probably die soon or just pittle down to nothing like all the other garden attempts. We actually have various plants growing right now, including tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, lettuce, and a small tree nursery, but if I don’t show up every single time they’re supposed to work (which I can’t), then they don’t any work. So needless to say I don’t have high hopes for those poor plants.
|The girl's club's last charla: HIV|
|Me with Gloria and my birthday chicken (she was made into a delicious soup)|
This weekend I’m attending the annual Small Business sector fundraiser gala they have at a fancy hotel in Managua (Holiday InnJ). It’s one of the few times of the year we get to indulge in big fluffy-pillowed beds in carpeted rooms with upholstered furniture and hot showers in nice bathrooms (where you can actually flush the toilet paper! although I still rarely allow myself to do it). The ticket includes a really nice dinner with beer and wine, and there’s a raffle table with fancy gifts and a DJ providing dancing into the night. I’m mostly excited about the yummy steak and dancing. Not to mention it’s a reason to get all dressed up and actually wear make-up and heels (though those inevitably come off during the dancing part) and look like a pretty girl for once, instead of a dusty (or muddy, depending on the season) campo inhabitant. Then, after the small biz gala, I’m heading back to the same hotel my group had our going away party at on the beach in Carazo to celebrate the AG 59 group’s year in service. They’ve invited me and Paul (the only two aggies from my group who’ve stayed for another year) to celebrate with them. Plus, during my time in Managua I’m planning on a much needed night out complete with a delicious sushi dinner, 2 for 1 margaritas, and a movie in an actual movie theater, and not on my mini computer screen by candlelight (don’t get me wrong, that’s quite enjoyable as well, just, ya know, different).
I’ll sign off here. Thanks to those who read my blog and send me occasional updates about your lives back in the States. Don’t forget I’m here! I know it’s been a long time, but that makes every e-mail and letter and package that much more exciting to receive! I miss all you guys and am looking forward to coming back next year to start whatever the next chapter of my life will be. But as usual, stay posted here. . .