“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” ~William James
It's been a busy few weeks for us in Swaziland! That's an exciting thing because it means projects are up and running and we’re fulfilling our responsibilities as Peace Corps Volunteers! Currently we have three projects that are ongoing: permagardening, library development, and chicken farming support.
The permagardening project we have going is a training in small, backyard permagardens for caregivers at SOS, the same organization we worked with for SKILLZ Basketball. We are providing permagarden training in three communities (KaLanga, Matsetsa, and Mangoleni) with the help of SOS’s Family Development Program Coordinators. Right now we have about 40 caregivers participating in training in the three communities, the oldest of which is 80 years old. Not bad considering the amount of work involved in developing a permagarden, but as we tell the caregivers, it's only a few weeks of hard work for the next ten years. The training is setup as a six week program, and we meet with each of the communities once a week so that the caregivers have the rest of that week to follow along at their own homestead. We have a good laugh each week as the predominately female caregivers come and tell us that their husband has finished with previous weeks instructions just as they said.
Our library project revolves around the Books for Africa grant which we received (big thanks to all who supported that initiative!). Our primary school will be receiving around 1000 books sometime around the end of May, so in the meantime, Grace had the brilliant idea of setting up a library club to help us paint/redecorate the space as well as organize all the new books once they arrive. Last week, we had about 25 kids Grade 1-7 on hand to help us clear out irrelevant textbooks on Tennessee and North Carolina history and write down why they liked books or reading. The results were fantastic! We not only cleared a lot of shelf space for more relevant and fun reads, but the kids had a great time expressing themselves and their love for reading and books.
Finally, we had a meeting this past Friday with the KaLanga branch of the Aludle Lubombo Mulit-Purpose Co-Operative Society, which is a very fancy way of saying a collective of women chicken farmers in our community. These women have joined up with a regional co-op to support and grow their own chicken farming business. They have identified a viable market, and developed a sound business plan for providing their buyer with the number of chickens the buyer wants. We are supporting them by helping them fit together the last piece of the puzzle which is to buy and distribute poultry crates amongst the co-op members, so that they can all transport their stock to a central location for the buyer and sell their entire stock for cash on the spot. Grace has her eyes on a couple of grants to help the co-op members which brings me to my next point.
The Peace Corps grant process is not really a grant process according to Grace, I wouldn’t know because I've never applied for a real grant before…however, Peace Corps grant process is really just a lot of paperwork to set up an account to fundraiser for yourself. That being said, we are pursuing a couple of different Peace Corps “grants”, but we will also be sending out some emails pertaining to certain projects where we could use some support. If you are interested in supporting some of our projects here in Swaziland, please email Grace at email@example.com and we’ll be sure to keep you posted!