It’s time to break this streak of silence and fill you all in on what’s been going on over here in Madagascar. I’m on my way back to site after spending two weeks with my Mom (!), and a few days with about 30ish volunteers who were all in Antananarivo (the capitol of Mada) after their respective holiday vacations with friends/family. It’s been great to see everyone, especially my Mom, but now it’s time to get back to work. It is always difficult psychologically going back to site after spending any significant period of time away from village life, and I think it is especially hard after spending time with a family member. I’m not gonna lie, I feel a little homesick. After being in country for 10 months, and at site for 8 months, I still feel like I have not gotten as much “done” as I thought I would have at this point. However, I do feel that I have learned a lot about my village and about the mindset of the people in my area, and have a better idea of the projects that are feasible, and where I should direct my efforts at this point. After my last post (in September…) I continued teaching English on a somewhat regular basis to both the kids and the park guides for a few months, but my classes have become much less frequent with the onset of the growing season. For the last 1.5months I have been working closely with local farmers planting various types of beans, as well as assisting in the transplanting process in the rice fields. I held a meeting with local farmers in October, and showed a video about SRI, the new(ish) rice farming technique that I am trying to persuade my farmers to adopt. It is a little more work initially, but produces a significantly higher yield. So far, I have convinced one of my friends in my village to apply the method this season. Small victories. I’m hoping all goes well in his field, and that his success will encourage others to try out the method next season. I am also planning on planting a different variety of rice in my rice field (that a friend in my village has donated to me) using the SRI technique. “Vary mena” , literally “red rice” is higher in nutritional value than the more popular white rice grown in my region; but no one farms it anywhere near me. I personally think it tastes better as well, so I’m hoping once I harvest it and get the seed out there others will begin growing it next season as well. I have lots more to say, but unfortunately, am going to lose internet access very soon, so I will have to fill you all in the rest later. Also, I’d like to send a shout out to my friends in CT (especially MikeyD!) who donated camping gear to the guides in my park. Thank you so much!!!! They are all very excited and grateful, as am I. I would like to also send a shout out to my friends in the Reno/Tahoe area, Brian and Katie,Molly (Mama!), and my family for your awesome Christmas gifts!! I miss you all!!
…and I’ll see you really soon Kelsey!!