I've got a little time at the end of the day for an update. It's been good to hear from people -- some of them by "Skype Phone", a free internet-based phone. Technology can be very cool, or it can be very cruel (as it was today to me): I spent most of the day on a failed attempt to get an internet cable working from the school to the dorm. The wireless is good, but the signal is a little weak after making its trip through the walls and closed wooden windows of the school, and through the walls of the dorm 100 feet away. They'd run a cable once before, but weren't sure that it had ever worked. I thought that I could get it working -- but I'm wrong (so far!). And the Best Buy locator didn't come up with anything in my current zip code....
For those of you contemplating a visit, you'll be impressed with the dorm: it's got beds for 17, a table for 12, a little kitchen area, and bathrooms with toilets and showers (I'll append some photos: maybe they will entice some of you into coming!). I've set up my office here, and I'm getting ready for classes (which begin next week). I'm only teaching a little bit: I'm in charge of linear algebra for the last two years of high school. It will only be a couple of hours a week, but I'm still nervous: it's been 20 years since I first stood up to teach math in french, but I'm not over the nervousness yet!
Anna's been doing good work in the clinic. The other folks who work in there are helpful, and thankful to have Anna there. She's the only one who showed much interest in packing a nasty wound that Dr. Greg McMorrow first treated while they worked together a few weeks back. The woman has been coming back almost daily since, to have her dressing changed (even though she lives a great distance away). The job has fallen to Anna, primarily because she's willing to do it. Anna just found out today, however, that the woman hadn't been taking her antibiotics (or at least not taking them correctly). Anna asked her "have you been taking your antibiotics?" "Yes," she replied, and then showed Anna most of the tablets Greg had given her. I guess she'd been taking them, everywhere she went! Now we see a little more clearly how antibiotic resistance comes about....
I've put some photos of our home on the web, which you might enjoy. "Ivy's girls" are great ones for crocheting, cross-stitch, etc. My mom had been wondering how she might help out, and so I let her know that the girls could use some supplies. I'm happy to share the shopping list that Ivy made out for me, but I've gotten most of that (through the internet, of course). Mom has put out an appeal for the bits of lace, counted cross-stitch kits you're never going to do, and assorted odds and ends. If you've got any, and wonder if they'd be welcome, check with me first or just send them to
Ivy's girls c/o Scott's Crafts and Dry Goods Store 2150 Lexington Rd. / Suite G. Richmond, KY 40475Scott (CFI Director) will see that they get to them when he comes in November (they'd probably need to be there by the 1st). Check out the Barbies the girls have done!
I'm writing in the middle of one of the wonderful afternoon rainstorms that we get here (much like Togo, at this time of year). And, just as in Togo, it does wonders to cool off the earth. It also pounds on the eardrums, if you're in a tin-roofed building (as I am at the moment). When Ernesto went through, we didn't get the driving rain -- we just got a day and a half of steady rain. Not much in the way of wind, just a slate-gray sky that looked out of place. That's when I heard the word "cyclone" off someone's lips, and went to the internet to see what was up. Indeed, a hurricane was causing our weather.
In the wake of Ernesto we had marvelously sunny days (but no afternoon showers to cool things off, which is what I prefer!). Seems that Ernesto had sucked all the rain along with him, and left us high and dry.
I've been out to see my first reforestation/soil remediation/flood control project last week. It was very exciting for me. I'll append a few of those photos, too. In order to control erosion, my friend George terraces the slopes with ditches: if soil washes away, it only washes as far as the next ditch. In time, the ditches are cleaned out and the soil put back where it can do the most good. On the outside edge of each ditch, all along the ditch, he plants trees (he'll soon start planting moringa trees, with only a little prodding from me). He currently plants a tree which is particularly useful for its wood.
The ditches are also there to prevent flooding: when the rains come, they stall in the ditches, and can't build up the momentum to become floods.
Once George gets the soil stabilized, he can begin planting crops: corn, interspersed with peas, interspersed with a tree useful for shade and wood. These will hold and remediate the soil. In the short term, the cooperating farmer will have corn and peas to feed his family, and he can use the wood for forage for animals.
In time, the wood will grow up and shade the hillside, and deposits of leaves will start to enrich the soil. Coffee can then be grown, as well as other shade-tolerant crops.
George directs 20 people working with him on this project, each of whom makes an honest living on only $50/month. The project is funded by a fellow who'll be coming in at the end of September (Tom Durant), and I'm anxious to spend that week working with him and with George.
George wants to create a nursery in town, so I'm going to go to Pignon with him soon, to check out an existing greenhouse and see what our needs would be (and how much they'll cost!).
I've had my first taste of moringa leaves, in a soup that we all pronounce wonderful (well, Thad got it down -- which ranks up there with wonderful for him). It's got a lot of other things in it, too, but the leaves are like a spinach, or other green. Fortunately our cook is inventive, and likes to try new things too (although she's been cooking and eating moringa leaves for a long time). I've got my first moringa oleifera tree (planted shortly after we arrived) growing in the kitchen of the dorm, but I'm not eating it just yet. If it thrives, I'll find some place of honor around here to plant it. We've got a couple of them growing on campus already. Ivy's done a great job of populating this place with trees.
I'll fill you in on my "poop project" next time (I'm hoping that it will start at the end of the month. It's a reforestation/sanitation project, that will probably end up involving moringa trees, somehow....
Our best to all,