The title says it all. I mean it really just means “Im really busy now” but sometimes saying things in Fijian mean more to me know than their English counterparts.
Since being back in the village we have gotten a 5 month work plan settled out with a few small projects or workshops to be completed every month between now and March. I said how I was incredibly frustrated with the lack of motivation and the constant focus on one project we haven’t obtained the funding for yet. My request for a bilibili (bamboo raft) was denied because my Turaga ni Koro thought it too risky to allow me to use… really? People ask me all the time how the reef looks really far out and I cant tell them accurately because I cant swim that far with my transect, notebook, pencils and survey ropes. He offered the use of someones boat, however I’m not stupid enough anymore to think that would work out. So I asked someone from the settlement to make me a raft. Ill just keep it out of sight.
Well anyway we got the materials needed (mostly) for coral planting. We just have to get one bag of cement and some epoxide to get started which is exciting!
I have been in Suva for a while now. The Peer Support Network I am a member of was brought in to talk to the new volunteers about what our committee is and introduce ourselves to them. We took them on a tour of Suva and just got to hang out which was great. We watched them get sworn in on November 2nd as Official Peace Corps Volunteers. They are an entirely new program, CHEP or community health empowerment programme where as my group of volunteers who have been here for a year and a half are 3 programmes; Integrated Environmental Resource Management, CHEP, and Business. A lot of us feel swept under the rug lately and forgotten about because this is the new staffs first training group- their shiny new toys. We have been in country longer than the upper level staff members. A lot of us also have feelings of animosity because of the new program direction that is steered away from environment and has become a total health program. I obviously take this personally because I am an Environmental volunteer and feel that a lot of the health promotion activities and concepts are covered by the Environmental Program. Environmentalism can create and sustain healthy living, but not the other way around. For example, take a waste management program. Getting a village to understand that packaged items waste remains in their environment impacting their health and children’s health, the aesthetics of the land, and ultimately impacting the composition of the soil can promote positive environmental (using less packing) and health changes (not buying as many top ramen noodles because they all come individually wrapped with individually wrapped spice packets). Another example, encouraging women to create backyard gardens with the use of compost addresses a waste management issue with food wastes taking up space in a landfill. This also addresses a health concern as women are getting more active gardening, and increasing the health and nutritional awareness of their families. Forgive the rant, but it can be difficult to be excited when your program is coming to an end. I have just found it better to focus on the positive changes I can make in my village and avoid the office lately.
It has been really great to be in the Capital with all the new group here and with a bunch of the people from my group coming in for the swearing in ceremony. Its been months since I have seen some of them!
Another benefit of being in Suva is this is where all the ministries and NGOs are situated. I had a meeting on Tuesday with the United Nations Development Programme regarding the proposal we have had with them on our Composting Piggery. It was a really beneficial, 3 hour meeting between me and the director of the GEF program. We talked about the changes they had made to the proposal (including increasing its budget by over twice the original proposal amount) and changing the environmental focus to International Waters. I was slightly flabbergasted with the increased budget… her reasoning for it made sense, but my lordy that is a lot of money… It is a pilot project because nothing like this has been done here on that large scale so they want productions from it. Manuals, Brochures, Pamphlets, etc. They said I could hire a graphic designer to complete this… it just seems so far beyond my capabilities it makes me nervous. They will have their meeting with the National Steering Committee to officially decide if they will fund the project on Thursday next week . They will tell me by Friday which means next week Friday I will either be crying myself to sleep or out celebrating a huge victory! Wish me luck…
So tomorrow I leave for Nagado village interior of Nadi to do a work exchange with another volunteer. It consists of different lessons, discussions and then activities regarding waste management. Biodegradeability, Composting, grey water treatment, Recycling, Reducing, Reusing, and Repairing are among the topics covered. We have a ton of activities to do including making small household compost bins, making reuseable shopping bags out of old t-shirts, making seed starters out of plastic bottle halves and toilet paper rolls, its pretty exciting and im hoping to return to my village and complete the same training with them. The workshop ends with the village creating a personalized waste management plan for their homes and villages which could be a great tool.
Any way for now, things are good. Feeling good (at least for now) that the composting piggery project is out of my hands and our villages fate with this project is in their hands. Im exciting to be traveling a bit, and glad I got to catch up with a bunch of volunteers while they were in town.