I am so happy to have a computer back, I have so much work to do. Right now I am working on a bunch of projects. I am working on writing a grant to fund an income generating garden project for the caregivers of the orphans and vulnerable children who are fed at my community’s 6 Neighborhood Care Points (half of my NCPs were built by a former PCV!). My NCPs are lucky enough to still get some food donated from World Food Programme, so this garden project will help to diversify the meals and will help to create sustainability if WFP pulls out. The income generated from selling the surplus will be put towards dishes, soap, and the caregivers’ other needs to run an effective NCP.
Outside of grant writing, I have been keeping myself busy learning how to make Swazi crafts. A couple months ago, well before Thanksgiving, I sent e-mails out to some of the crafting shops in the country that support women’s groups in the rural areas. I got two e-mails back almost immediately: one was a mailer domain/email address doesn’t exist..ugh and the second was very nice but said that they already support more women than they can really handle.
I got no response from the third. I assumed it was lost in the cyber world, but I got a phone call the week after being home from my Mozambique vacation about 3 weeks ago from Tintsaba Crafts. They wanted to meet boMake Craft group! They are looking to train and take on more women so they called me! How awesome is that!!!!
On Friday they were going to be in my Region. They asked to me to bring some of my women to a meeting place about an hour bus ride from where we stay. I went with 2 boMake and we arrived early since the bus schedules aren’t so reliable in the afternoon. Have I mentioned that these are the women that taught me how to make the baskets? They speak only siSwati and had to figure out how to teach me left-handed while they all are right-handed, pretty impressive I think. The Tintsaba people arrived late since their meeting before ours ran late. I was freaking out a little while waiting, what if they don’t come and every other ‘what if’ going through my head. Anyways, they showed up an hour and half late (and we were there an hour early!) They had the meeting speaking in siSwati. That is the tough part of living in rural Swaziland. My siSwati will never be good enough to understand whats going on completely. So I only know as much as could be translated to me.
My craft group used to work with a woman who sold the baskets in America, but more than a year ago they lost contact leaving my craft group without a market to sell to so by connecting them with Tintsaba will open a new market for them to sell to. But there was an issue that came up. Tintsaba alleges that the woman my boMake used to work for stole product from Tintsaba to sell in America and that issue is still unresolved which could jeopardize my boMake’s relationship with Tintsaba. When this was translated to me my heart started to break. I barely know how doing business works in America let alone in a 3rd world African country. All hope is not lost, but the reps need to speak with the owner of the shop who wasn’t at this meeting to see how they can remedy the situation that happened in the past and take on my boMake’s group. So please keep your fingers crossed for a favorable decision for the women of my community. Working with Tintsaba would be a great opportunity for my women!
After the meeting and another hour long crowded bus ride, standing the whole way home it was already time to head to the soccer field. I have been spending most of my evening watching soccer practice. Everyday more than 20 guys from my neighborhood ages ranging from late teens to late 20s have soccer practice on a field down by the river. I played with them a couple times, only enough to show them that I know how to play. I don’t play with them anymore. I see it like this: I struggled to keep up with the girls when I played 10 years ago, so trying to keep up with these male African athletes now would be a joke. I am not ashamed to admit that.. haha. But regardless of whether I play or not these guys are my friends now and it makes me feel safer in my community with them around because I know they will look out for me.
I am telling you about my soccer team because before I went on my holiday vacation in Mozambique the Youth Club that I helped to start was planning its first event, a sports day. The committee asked me to have my team come to a planning meeting. I asked them and they showed up even though it was a wicked hot day and not many others came. I was so happy! So my Youth Club planned the Sports Day for New Year’s Eve while I would be away. When I came home from vacation and heard a report on the event: five soccer teams, volleyball, and netball.. success!!! My soccer team did not win, but one of my player said to me “we showed up in numbers. We couldn’t have something you were involved with be a failure.” My heart melted. A lot of the time I don’t know what purpose I am serving by being here, but this made me feel so validated.