Work

For those of you who don’t know, your job in Peace Corps is nothing like a job at home….especially in the beginning. As you know we are “attached” to the NGO Pride Africa. This means that it will be our primary job in the beginning, although as time goes on we are supposed to find “secondary projects.” Peace Corps tells these organizations that they are not supposed to expect/require much of us for the first three months. During this time we are supposed to get oriented to our new community, set up house, etc. Being Americans, however, we are ready and wanting to do work as of day 2!

Fortunately yesterday and today (Monday and Tuesday) we actually got some real work to do. Our organization is looking for more farmer groups to work with. There is an organization here called Farmer Field Schools (originally started somewhere in Asia) that has thousands are farmers in organized groups. Kenya’s FFS program sets the standard around the world. Our NGO had a meeting with FFS yesterday to explore the possibility of working together. There were 4 people from the Nairobi office plus the two of us. We went to the nearby town of Kakamega (about an hour away) and met with the head of FFS and then with 4 of the farmer leaders. At both meetings there was a lot of excitement about working together. If we can get Drumnet to work with this first group, the speed and potential growth of working with FFS could be amazing. In the coming months both of us will probably be going to the smaller meetings to explain the project to the individual farmer groups.

This morning I got up early and took a Matatu to a nearby town to meet the Pride Africa group for another outing (Mark was tracking down a cable he needed to work on the Drumnet video.) We were headed into the country to meet with a farmer who is our main contact with the current group of sunflower growers. We needed to get concrete data on how many seed had been sold, how many acres were planted, how many loans has been made, etc. Unfortunately this farmer is playing hard-to-get, so to speak. After many phone calls he finally agreed to meet us at his duka (tiny store.) So we got in the car and started the 1 hour drive. About 45 minutes into it he told us to go to his house instead. So we arrived at his house and his wife told us that he wasn’t there, but he had left the info with her. When we took a look at the books there were small bits of information, but certainly not everything that we needed. After much discussions Jonathon got on the phone to the farmer and tried to explain that we really needed more information and we needed to meet in person. Unfortunately mid-sentence the call ended. Now in Kenya that could mean many things…a) the network dropped the call, b) the farmer ran out of power, or c) the farmer hung up on him. Unfortunately option C is most likely since when Jonathon called back he got a message saying the call was blocked. We were not a happy group driving back to the main road. It looks like the meeting with FFS came at just the right moment since we may not be able to work with this farmer any more.

That’s probably enough for now (for those of you who are even still
reading.) We’ll try and get a good description of what Drumnet is exactly sometime this week since I know many people have been asking us about that.

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