February 2017 Project Roundup
February 17, 2017
Bauya, Sierra Leone
Activities in Bauya continue to focus on compost maintenance and training. This participation is important because it addresses several needs. First, it creates a little to no-cost fertilizer that will be needed in the upcoming planting season. (The high cost of chemical fertilizers makes them unattainable by most farmers we work with.) Composting also provides a forum for our staff in Bauya to discuss the subject of planning and organizing for the upcoming growing season so farmers can maximize the use of their resources. Finally, it continues to build community and trust within the community.
Ibrahim Siaka, an enterprising pineapple farmer we have been working with, has also begun to show success with his pineapple plantation. He now has a clean and mulched plantation that is exhibiting good growth and a promise of a future harvest.
Lunsar, Sierra Leone
John and Shanty have been working with a blind association for the past several months, helping them establish conservation agriculture plots on land the association had been given. Recently they began the process of preparing for a compost training with the men of the association. To this point, family and friends had been assisting with agriculture work. However, this past week when John and Shanty arrived to begin the training, the blind men had gathered all the materials needed (green grasses and weeds, dry woody materials and the poles necessary for the pits) without the help of their support team. Amazingly, they had told their support team they wanted to do it themselves. In the paraphrased words of Mr. Matta, “We want to show people that we can do this work independently and not have to beg or rely on others for help.” Of course these men will always need some support, but a what a beautiful image of a drive to succeed in the face of great challenge!
The team in Lunsar recently completed a compost training in the village of Mile 38, in partnership with Mount Zion Baptist Secondary School and Pastor Simeon Sesay of Mile 38 Baptist Fellowship. Participants included 5 teachers and 45 students from the school (30 young ladies and 15 young men). It is exciting to see students being trained in this way. Not only can it open their eyes to new and exciting business possibilities, according to our team, it also fits into their school science curriculum and supports their school exams. It also serves as important youth empowerment work for those students who decide to farm for their own food or as a vocation.
We can now report 37 savings groups with over 750 members! Groups are giving birth to other groups, and it is exciting to see grassroots growth.
Building on a successful program last year, our team has added monthly financial training workshops designed to help participants become more financially savvy and responsible with what they save and borrow.
Phillip, David and Josiah (our agriculture intern from Vanderbilt University) are planning for their upcoming trip to Ghana. The team is looking forward to visiting the Ghana staff and gaining firsthand knowledge of the strides that have been made by the team since Peter’s return to the U.S.
The team is gearing up for the second cycle of the Survival Skills program in Panama. Students will be interviewed as part of the application process for the program. This ensures that the students entering the program are willing and eager to learn, and clearly understand the expectations. They are also given a baseline assessment so we can gauge progress.
The Survival Skills interns are receiving two weeks of executive training, which will provide them with the information they can share with the students in Panama on their upcoming trip in March.
The Survival Skills students recently completed a module on types of jobs. We want to get them actively thinking about and planning their future, and an awareness of the careers available to them is a first step.
The students also went on a field trip where they learned how to take the bus around town, change routes and make a connection, and pay for a ticket.
Their English lessons included how to ask others where they live and where they were born, as well as discussion about countries, nationalities, and languages. They pinned flags on a map to visualize where the countries they discussed are located.
We are also exploring other orphanages in the area where the Survival Skills program might be a good fit.