Sunday, August 31, 2008

Grain for the bank

Autumn harvest time will bring the cheapest grain prices
Photo by Ulf Lieden

You might ask- what about the GRAIN? Right. That's important. This piece of the puzzle came out in a most providential way! I did a lot of asking around- to other PCVS and a bunch of the staff in Niamey during a marathon day of phone calling from Konni. And, wonderfully, I received SO much support, encouragement, and info about where to look for funding that I have nothing but positive things to say about the PC bureau from this experience. There are a handful of ways that volunteers use to get $ for projects-- through PC funded programs, other US government programs, private donors, and community organizations. After debating back and forth and getting input from folks in the bureau, I decided to write up a proposal and budget to submit to the Rotary Club, to cover the cost of grain, grain transport, pallets, and cement to repair the building (Important detail-- we have a weatherproof building in the village built for this purpose but empty-- we just had to fix it up a bit. Usually this is a main expense-the building itself- but we got lucky with it). I didn't expect to know for weeks, even months, but the director of the PC Health sector, Gaston, has strong ties to Rotary in the states, and the good man made it all happen overnight! Seriously! Awesome! Gaston, who I have never met but hope to soon, is a rock star.

So: the money to buy the grain is here, and this project WILL get off the ground. We won't buy any grain until we've had our training- that would be risky and foolish I think, and plus, grain is still expensive right now. I want more than ever to help people fill their bellies-- they are getting hungrier, I know. I also know that running into a big thing like this with no idea how to keep it straight could be a total disaster, and would blur the lines between charity (not why I'm here) and sustainable development (closer to the truth).

So for now, we're trying to be patient. I fronted money for the cement and we've fixed the cracks in the floor of the GB building- I was touched by how thrilled the women were with this small accomplishment. We had a meeting a few days ago where I updated them on the ADD news, certificate, and overall progress of the proposal, and afterwards we unlocked the building so everyone could go inside and see it. Oh they were so proud! They got as giddy as little girls to see all of this fresh, smooth cement-- no one has cement in their homes here, it's too expensive. (An endearing detail- as stubborn as the women have been about involving men in the GB, they had to bite their tongues and let men cement the floor, as that is not '"women's work.") A group of the women started dancing in a circle, rejoicing about this fancy new room of theirs. Their claps and foot-stomps echoed in the empty space, and their beaming faces made me blush in the realization that I had done something really good. All that's missing, they laughed, is millet!


Peggy said...

what a wonderful story that's unfolding - Peggy

Kerry said...

That's what I thought too. It feels like a story, the whole thing. I just hope it ends well.