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October Update

Posting 3 of 3: If you have not yet, please read Rainy Day Updates and September Update (below)

As I said in the previous posting, the month started with our Mid-Service Training just outside of Pretoria. MST was great to see our fellow volunteers and hear what everyone is doing. We got together to get ideas for the final year of our service and were able to let off some steam and enjoy each others company, which included a Trivia Night contest masterfully researched and prepared by Mike Scarpa, a fellow volunteer. It was lots of fun, but it meant that it was time to go back to work.

After MST, Robi and I stayed in Pretoria for two days to celebrate Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in Judaism. We had a nice time meeting and talking with people at the synagogue, but this fasting for 24 hours is much harder than I thought. We returned to Jericho with the news that we would be getting another volunteer, Erin, in our village. She is part of our group that came in July 2007. She spent her first year outside of Tzaneen in the Limpopo Province. After a year of trying her hardest, the situation did not work out. When it became obvious that she needed to move sites, we started talking about getting her to Jericho to do some work. She is part of a program that works with NGOs, mostly home-based care and HIV/AIDS organizations. Since we have been in Jericho, we have had lots of NGOs asking for help from us, but Robi and I are only two people and it was getting a little overwhelming. Having Erin, or Mmabatho as she has been named, here has been great. She has only been here for just over 2 weeks, but has already become a part of the community.

Within a week of Erin’s arrival, the three of us were invited to a Literacy Indaba, which is a meeting to see how the municipality has and will work towards raising the literacy rates. It was very nice to be invited and meet a lot of interesting people doing good work. It was a shame that we had to leave before the end of the Indaba in order to get back to Jericho for Girls club.

About a week later, Jericho played host to the North West Provincial Premier at the Imbizo Junction for 2008. All of the government agencies had booths and were giving out brochures and posters. Robi set up a table for the Atlegang Girls Club and sold crafts made by the girls. Robi will tell you all about it in another post.

After the Imbizo, I saw the Chief of the village and he invited me for a tour of a new gardening project for the village the next day. I meet him at his office in the morning and we drove to the outskirts of the village to see the African Agricultural Project. The tribal authority has set aside 440 hectares of land for the development of farming skills. The 440 hectares will be divided up into 20 plots of 22 hectares. Each plot will be run by a farmer from the area and will employ about 20 farm workers each. The farmers and workers will learn how to plant and grow vegetables in the dry climate in Jericho. As the crops come to harvest, they will be taught how to best harvest and replant the crops. Finally, they will learn how to market their veggies locally and to bigger companies. The project is being helped with funding by Pick ‘n Pay, which is a national grocery store in South Africa. But the funding only goes so far, so I am looking into the US Ambassadors Self-Help Fund to see if it can be used for this project.

To end the month, Erin and I stressed ourselves out by writing grant proposals for two projects that we want to do in the village. She is going to run a support group for young mothers in the village, which includes gardening and other practical skills. I am trying to get funding for running a newsletter written and managed by the youth of the village called Voice of the Youth. Robi and I had started this last year, but ran into problems when we tried to get it printed. I hope that things work out better this time around.

October was a crazy month, and November has come upon us very quickly. Let’s hope that the work continues, along with the rain. It’s nice to have running water again.

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