Quote

“Our current industrial society treats waste as something to throw away, to get rid of, to dispose of. We need to change the way we think about waste. We need to think, ‘Waste is a resource. Resources have value.’ And we need to ask ourselves, ‘How can we move from a wasteful society to a waste-free society?'”

-Mary Appelhof, Worms Eat My Garbage

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My Usual Schedule During Term Break

Now that the school term is over, I’ve been trying to get a move on some personal projects because fire cold season begins in full swing! As much as I’ve loved being at my site consistently these past few months, I’ll unfortunately be out a decent amount coming up, so there’s even more of a time crunch!

I know people usually ask me what I do on the daily, so I’ve attempted to create a daily schedule below! Sometimes I’m super productive and busy; sometimes I’m extremely, unjustifiably lazy. Sometimes I spend all day with people; sometimes I don’t talk to anyone for almost the whole day. It really depends! But I’d say this is fairly accurate.

06:30 – 07:00

Wake up, check my phone for messages, stretch derp around on the internet.

07:00 – 07:30

Get up, let the ducks out, feed them, fetch water for my plants and water them.

07:30 – 08:00

Reading and breakfast time!

08:00 – 10:00

Mulching!

10:00 – 12:00

Free time to do whatever happens to pop up (playing with kids if they come over, harvesting beans, reading, etc.). This is also the time I’d make any work-related phone calls.

12:00 – 13:00

Lunch! I usually sit in my house or under my veranda and (surprise!) either read or derp around on my phone.

13:00 – 15:00

Miscellaneous gardening! One day i re-potted my tree seedling, one day I added manure to my demo field and changed the duck pond water, another day I weeded my flower beds. That kinda stuff.

15:00 – 17:00

This is the prime time for meetings, so I try to get out of my house and socialize! Sometimes the meetings are serious planning meetings, sometimes just hanging out with friends.

17:00 – 18:00

Socializing with the family and bathing!

18:00 – 19:00

Dinner plus podcasts.

19:00 – 21:00

Reading or derping on my phone

21:00 – 06:30

Sleep!

Video

TED Talk: The Next Generation of African Architects and Designers

Ok, so last month I shared a rather disheartening vision of growth and development within Zambia and Nigeria, which arguably would also apply to post-colonial states throughout Africa and the world. This month, I’m going to share the opposite. This talk by Rwandan architect Christian Benimana is so incredibly inspiring, and pays homage to other innovators and idealists in Nigeria and Burkina Faso. There is incredible talent in the continent of Africa.

One of the things I enjoyed most about this video was that the projects referenced were so community-based, and didn’t rely on western-centric concepts. I would love to see how my community would respond to the buildings shown in Burkina Faso compared to a western model. Any chance you’d want to come to Ikelenge, Zambia, Francis Kéré?

Highlight Reel: April 2018

Rainy season’s last hurrah! For most of this month I was wishing rainy season would end so I could start working more, but now that it’s slowing down I’m realizing how much I’ll miss it! Anyways, here’s some stuff that happened.

Cute and flirty: What is cuter than ducklings?! Definitely not dead ducklings. Jujubee laid nine eggs, I ate five, and three hatched (the rotten egg is sitting in my house because I’m a hoarder and think I’ll do some sort of kids education with it eventually?). One was immediately crushed by RuPaul (the daddy duck; all my ducks are named after drag queens), one died from unknown causes, and one almost drowned. The drowning survivor later went missing. The life of a duckling is perilous. But they were so cute while they lasted! Future is also super cute by saying “lusesa mwani BaNaka!” (sorry, BaNaka!) whenever he passes where we buried Baby BaNaka.

Something I learned from my community: I get a lot of flack from the ladies in my compound (Mwazie, Prudence, and Flora) about how I do laundry! Admittedly, I hate washing clothes; I’m bad at it, it takes forever, and I half-ass it. Zambian women, on the other hand, make a laundry machine look foolish (although people here still deserve laundry machines)! They’re out there wringing and scrubbing in one fluid motion while I’m completely slowly-but-surely missing stains and scrubbing a hole in my boxers. Needless to say I’m still learning!

Additionally… this month my friends Mario and Rodgers helped me propagate sugarcane from cuttings! It was super fun, and I’ve got sugarcane popping up all over the place now! And Mario spent his only day off (he works very long hours six days a week at a construction job) to walk me to the family’s woods patch and teach me about native trees. So I’ve been learning a lot from people.

Something my community learned from me: While I haven’t been having luck with workshops (people are very busy in their fields this time of year), I have had some really wonderful informal education conversations! While planting sugarcane, I had to kill a snake hidden in the grass (most snakes in Zambia are highly venomous so you don’t want to take a chance if it’s close enough to bite you) and got to do what I miss doing: teaching people about snakes. I had dinner with Silver, a neighbor of mine, and we got to talk about soil fertility and green manures. I spotted a chameleon on the road and forced all the kids hanging around my compound to sit with me while I talked about it and then re-home it. I’ve been doing semi-regular story times at my house and am trying to get kids who can read English to read Little House in the Big Woods with me. Things are great! Sticking around my community and finding your niche has really worked for me, and I plan on keeping it up for the next year.

Shower insights: I’ve heard two really good nuggets of wisdom this month: “the only person you should compare yourself to is past versions of yourself” and “you don’t have to do it well, you just have to get it done.” The former I am employing in my ongoing mission of self reflection and growth, and the latter I am applying to finishing mulching the termite mound by my house!

Something that didn’t totally fail: First, let me begin with something that did totally fail. I had wanted to do a chicken vaccination program in my village this month, because April sees a huge resurgence of Newcastles Disease every year and it can decimate a chicken population. I’d thought everyone would be on board, no problem, but no one was interested in being my counterpart for the project. So, I went to a neighboring village where I knew people were already implementing good chicken keeping practices and pitched it to local leadership. They were on board! They asked someone to be my counterpart and he worked extremely hard to get a total count of all the chickens in the village so we could get the right quantity of vaccine.

But, when we held the meetings, there was a lot of apathy from most people and a lot of people didn’t attend. This was not good, as all the chickens in an area need to be vaccinated for it to be affective. People who attended got excited, but not enough people were attending. I tried holding three meetings, and on the third I had to make the call that it just wasn’t going to work. I was so frustrated! I thought I’d done everything right, involved local leadership, worked with a counterpart, based the project off of community feedback, all of it, involved the district’s Department of Livestock, and people just weren’t responding. It sucked.

Anyways, I got home and was really upset and after talking to my host sister Mwazie walked through the pineapple fields to the river to get some air. At this point I should mention that I’ve been trying to get kids to slash my grass for me in front of my house, in return for me paying their school fees, but the kids just haven’t gotten around to it (this isn’t laziness; people will say yes to stuff they don’t want to do because it’s considered very impolite to say no to something, and whatever subtle indicator there is in Lunda culture I have been unable to pick up on it). So a lot of things were just piling up. But, when I returned, all six of the kids I spoke to were slashing. Mwazie had talked to them for me and they realized it was important to me. And one of my neighbors came over and sat with me for a while because he’d seen me looking unhappy on the road, and we talked about chickens and life for a while. It was one of the most heartwarming moments I’ve had here and it still makes me a little emotional thinking about it.

Hero of the month: Mwazi, for keeping my head cool.

Villain(s) of the month: 1. Whichever animal ate Raven, one of my adult female ducks. Sad day.

2. Peace. Corps. Grants. Online. Ooooo if I could murder software system I would! Annikki’s and my grant is still not online, putting us a month behind on fundraising!