The Halfway Point

The halfway period comes with many questions and discussions. 
The chance to assess your past year. 
The time to readjust for the next year. 
The place to see where you have grown and the areas you wish to invigorate. 
This past year was a struggle for a standard. Standard for my clinic to stick to. Standard of work hours and what I am “supposed” to do. A standard was difficult to adjust to and make and keep the same. I am always fighting and starting from the beginning. With projects and people and I forget a year has passed. 
A Project in Process: Maternity Ward 
As a community with many issues with maternal and infants, we assessed a need for a maternity ward. 

But first we need support. 
So we started the meeting with the district. As a community that is already slow with an environmental health officer’s house. We have not shown a great deal of evidence of work in our village. But our heart is strong and we are pushing faster. Even our nurse has applied to push this along. 
We had another meeting this week to help us start the project to get the backing of the district health office. We started going house to house to collect give kwatcha per family to buy cement for a foundation. 
During these door to door meetings, I will also be talking and trying to complete this year’s malaria prevention challenge: 10,000 bed net challenge. While teaching about malaria and mosquito nets, I hope to have checked as many nets as I can. 
So far we have less than twenty houses with about two to three bed spaces checked so far.
Every part of the village is led by a headman under the charge of a chief. And we have agreed with them that each would buy two bags of cement. The headmen had a deadline and those who did not give by that date, would have their subjects in their zone charged for coming to the clinic. 
I did not like the latter agreement because then mothers and children suffer but the village knows it’s people best because the subjects forced to pay started to push their headmen to be proactive. 
Their subjects will benefit from this maternity ward and completion of the environmental health officer’s house. And the headmen should be involved in their community and subjects’ lives and well being.  
We will start making cement blocks soon to start this maternity ward. And the community enjoyed seeing their contribution put into an actual development than wondering where their money has ended. 
I will take pictures once things start moving and show the whole process. I am also writing a grant to help aid this and move this faster. And that also I will talk about in the future. 
The change in kwatcha 
As peace corps volunteer, we do not get paid in dollars. We are paid in the local currency. As we came into country, five kwatcha was to one dollar. Now it is up to twelve kwatcha to an hour. Everything has doubled. As we buy more things, supplies, and teaching tools for camps, workshops, trainings, and personal use, everything has doubled. It has caused great trouble on our part as workers in the village who earn such a pay. But we still strive cause our job is so important to us. Volunteers still buy as much as they can for their students and their trainees. It’s the fact that we as volunteers do more.
The stories of what we do despite hardships like these are my point. Transport, money and especially volunteers to help are the top problems and we still go over and beyond for our work. 
All of us have great kids who make us laugh right outside our door steps. 
All of us have great success stories that we see and can bring tears to our eyes. 
We have inspirational women in our stories and men who work hard for their communities. 
We have great moments of success and long roads of struggles and volunteers don’t stop. 
We don’t stop. Peace corp volunteers are a special group of people who does not let struggle ruin their experience. Nor do they throw away a second of joy as null and void. 

Chitenge Designs and Business Plans 

I sketch a lot in my time off. Especially dress designs. I also love to join tailors in their work and get inspiration from the cloth they are working on. 
However, my designs are now being noticed. Since most are American style designs and not conservative traditional African dresses, more students are liking the designs. I started to help teach a few girls and guys interested in designing on how to use a sewing machine. With a pedal run machine like the one my grandfather used with a huge Singer script painted on the top, it was reminiscent and also great as these children wanted some chance to draw and design their own designs. I told them not to design the chitenge but use the colors to create different suits and dresses. 
It was beautiful watching them work. I let them keep their designs and gave them some sticky tack to let them hang them up on their walls for more motivation. I want them to keep drawing. Arts and music are important to individuality and expression and the lack of them is hard on a community. Celebrations cannot thrive without them obviously. But how they disappear after youth and expression is diluted to join the real work of early marriage, parenthood, and working long hours is a tragedy. 
I don’t know how I’d exist with my blues and classic rock and the always best 90’s hip hop. To exist without the starry night by Van Gogh giving me reason to find a sky just like it and in my search I have seen skies in many places and every one is better than the last and still magnificent.  
Cooking again but with real class

Matzo Ball Soup with Soya pieces, Garden Carrots 

     Matzo ball soup mix mixed with water boiling with garden vegetables and soya pieces for chicken was a delight when windy days wear you out. It’s so easy to make but you need to either have matzo meal to help make the soup dumplings. 
Chile Carrot Coconut Curry with Rice Noodles
This was a spicy dish cause I cut up serious chiles into here. Coconut milk help soothe it and plain rice noodles were delicious with carrots and curry. 
Banana Mango Masuku Applesauce with Granola crumble 
Making applesauce is so easy in a pan and adding an over ripe mango and banana took it to a new level. I then took cereal granola and toasted it on a pan with pecans and topped the sweet sauce with it. 

I got to cook so much while I was here and I am proud that I didn’t have sacrifice my hobby and one of the greatest pleasures of my life to “survive” out here. I still make cookies and breads. I make stews and fried food. I make cakes with avocado instead of butter. Chia powder instead of eggs. I

Still make stuff off the top of my head missing only one or two ingredients so still close. But cooking on charcoal outside, blowing to keep the fire hot and then keep constant heat or lower it when the coals are too much. 

I will be working toward building a foundation for a maternity ward and then starting a grant foundation for also donations to help our cause as soon as I can. This is hopefully the biggest and largest project Id be undertaking and I would be grateful if you can take the chance to tell as many friends and family about this great project. Who gets a chance to see where their charity really go to when it comes to donations? And this opportunity will benefit a real community in dire need to protect their women, teach, and prevent so many deaths. 

 Highlights of the Past Year  
 
    
       
   
    
 

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