It’s November, rainy season but just barely.  We’re in town for an HIV/AIDS workshop having  just finished a busy October of house renovations, painting a world map on the school and getting ready for planting season.  October was dominated by the idea of rain, and the renewal of life which is the only fixed thing that is real and unavoidable.  Time is negligible but rain is for real and so much more.  So I’ll start my half-thoughts on rain.

Desire for Rain

I’ve never felt such a deep excitement and anticipation for rain before.  Months without it spent living off the bounty from last years rains.  You get lulled into a trance where you wake up every day more or less knowing what the skies hold.  The industrious among us make haste far before the forest sends out what seem like impatient floppy lime green leaves.  Then it rains kind of, teasing in small spurts and quantities, sometimes accompanied by anvil shaped clouds warning the slow to get busy.  Last years maize just got sold, then it was time to get in line and shimmy to the front to receive govt subsidized N-P-K.  I almost got caught in town the first day it looked like rain which would have been unfortunate but it just boomed around us spitting a little to separate sand from clay.  It’s come though and I can’t wait to get back to my porch and watch the clouds roll through and know that nobody is going to approach me and nobody is looking over my shoulder to see that I stay on task. Not having to work in the rain is a life goal of mine, not because I hate it but because I want to sit back and enjoy it.  Especially warm rain, unlike the Pacific Northwest where rains mean all crevices grow fungus and you’re stiff and soggy for 7 months.  Anyways right now its fun and different,  it changes everything, making the days even more unpredictable and plans less certain.  The rains have cleansed us.

Taking Life Seriously

When I came here I was determined to do something, to make a difference and I’m managing to.  It’s just really hard and really slow.  Things were getting to me, one week three straight days brought setbacks.  The first came from the 3rd time I tried to have an initial meeting about beekeeping, and only one person came and we had a serious discussion where he was earnestly concerned with how I was going to be able to make a difference in the community given the latest proof of apathy. The concern wasn’t what he could do to help me, but challenging me to come up with a way to help people.  After months of moving around, meeting, greeting, making plans, doing my homework I was tired and found it bizarre to have someone realize I was busting my butt and aware that the community wasn’t responding but concerned that I wouldn’t be able to leave a legacy or something. He gave the burden back to me doubled, and on this I stewed, I probably also had some gin and juice too.

The next day one of our neighbors who is like 15 but in 7th grade (the first time kids get tested before getting passed along) was wrongly accused of being late to class.  Often he’s not at school for days for no reason but if you go and are late then it’s a problem.  Anyways the teacher on duty who is also the only one that volunteered to help with my environmental education club told my neighbor he would be punished for being late. The neighbor argued or merely explained he wasn’t late and then the teacher headbutted him knocking him to the ground.  His face was swollen and he was in bed for a day.  The situation resolved with an apology after our neighbor’s dad went to school and gave some threats.  We wondered what would have happened with the teacher and school had people not been worrying about our opinions.  The club didn’t meet that week and we’re now at less than 50% of our meetings actually happening due to this incident, a campaign visit, independence day preparations, and the most frequent disturbance- alcohol.  I need the teacher to translate and also hopefully to take over the club completely before I leave. So I have maintained relations, if you broke off working with everyone who let you down you’d have a lot of free time, but maybe that is what needs to happen.

The following day I went to visit my pet project, the one that we’d been planning for months at the local training institute for farmers.  Demonstration fields for agroforestry to show alternatives to slash and burn.  This project is with govt workers who have gone to school for agriculture and actually know a lot I can learn from.  There wasn’t supposed to be the need to be paternalistic with this one, these were young educated peers with a common goal.  To be brief, it’s not that nothing was happening because something was just not with any urgency and way behind schedule.  The schedule I made up based on rain, hours of research, and a lot of thought that I moved beyond the meaningless realm of spoken words to written words was forgotten.  The worst thing was they were doing something so I had to help strategize some half ass way of doing things because none of the preparations had been done.  I have managed to move on with the project eventhough there has been no acknowledgement that they lied, were lazy, etc.  I wouldn’t deal with this in real life, if people treated me badly I would walk away or have a conversation were words correspond with meaning, but it’s like now I’m sticking projects out because I envision a greater good coming later.  So that is that, the normal stuff that piles up; it’s just this was 3 days straight that brought me way down.  Good things have and are happening.  If I said no to half of the junk directed towards me I’d have a lot more time on my hands, maybe I should but anyways the rains are coming and life will be slower.

One thing I notice about the volunteers who are happiest here is that they are generally more ok with things being the way they are here.  Carly and I have trouble accepting things and it brings frustrations.  I’m going to visit some other volunteers to see their villages/ lives just to get some perspective and  watch the landscape of suffering mixed with joy go by my bus window without a sense of responsibility.  Sometimes the realization that we’re all in this thing together bringss too heavy a burden and makes it hard to just enjoy the scenery.