Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A goat cooperative, continued

In the past few weeks, I’ve experienced an extended period of mild frustration. It seems like I do a lot of sitting around in the office, which makes me feel unproductive in the present but is definitely part of a crucial process of observation and establishing relationships. I’ve also been frustrated by the number of times promising plans get canceled (a related issue, as it leaves me with nothing to do) and by constantly having no idea what’s going on, why it’s happening (or isn’t happening), and what’s going to happen. Still, I’ve been looking for the positives.

Today was a great example of this: although I largely sat in the office with nothing to do, there was an hour of pure success. It started with my suggestion a few days ago that my colleague W. with his degree in agriculture and animal husbandry visit the ailing goat cooperative, one of B.’s projects. For the past few days I’ve been gently pushing the subject, suggesting times when both are free to visit. A few obstacles had to be overcome, for example whose budget would pay for the moto fuel and when the cooperative members were available. But today it finally happened.

W. gave a speech to the assembled cooperative members about how goats can eat everything, particularly table scraps and leaves and stalks of various crops. I asked a few leading questions like “After I finish eating corn, can I give the inside to the goats to eat?” W. also discovered that water is scarce in the community and suggested they feed the goats several parts of plants that retain water.

Although only time will tell if this was effective, I’m optimistic and we'll do followup. I’m claiming a victory here: I served as the catalyst, getting W. and B. to collaborate. The next step is for B. to realize when he needs to ask for W.’s expertise in the future without my prodding. 

When I took out my camera to get “before” pictures of the goats in our weight-gain program, I was mobbed by village children screaming “jyewe” (me) and “Inanjye” (and mine). Here are a few adorable shots that also show the severity of malnutrition among the village’s children.

And the village itself, a place where great natural beauty contrasts with the malnutrition and poverty. The villagers are decked out in their Sunday best for their meeting with us.

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