Wednesday, June 24, 2015
One of my life-time passions...trees
Oak, maple, elm…you won’t find these trees in Zambia, but you will find mupetanzobu, musokobele, and kabalabala. These are Kiikaonde names for trees found in my area and are used for timber, food and medicine.
I am writing my first book--yes, my first book--on trees and their uses in northwest Zambia. I am co-authoring with a local villager, Kaonde by tribe, who is a carpenter and expert on local trees.
This manual is geared toward Peace Corps Volunteers and local farmers to help them learn how to implement tree planting for food security, income generation, soil improvement, and other uses in the villages they reside.
Alongside the book, which I hope to get published by September, I am organizing a workshop in agroforestry for Peace Corps Volunteers and their village representatives in northwest province. The workshop will be three days of a variety of topics including planting and maintaining citrus trees, how to get kids involved with tree planting, and nursery planning and construction.
October is the month prior to planting season, or when the rains come, so this information will be fresh in participators’ minds when they head back home.
Busy is a word I would describe a bee…I’m more than busy. And I’m excited to finally see my work become tangible. It has taken me a year to build relations with the community here, as well as outside the community. Luckily there is a government agriculture research station the next village over where I go to get expert advice on trees and other things pertaining to farming. I’ve worked hard which includes riding my bike to meet with the research station to go over plans I have and just talk and make friends. I’m networking, which is a good thing to learn how to do, especially in a foreign country.
Peace Corps is a great program. I believe it works because a volunteer with a unique view of the world and how things can be accomplished lives within a community for two years. For many, two years isn’t a very long time, but living in a place that is so different from where Volunteers come from is a life-changing experience. Volunteers have to figure out how to get along with a people who think and act different from ourselves. It’s not just learning how to live without showers and electricity; it’s adapting to a whole other world and not having close friends from home nearby to help out with the daily stresses that come along.
It is a tough job, but is rewarding. This experience will stay with me for the rest of my life. Being a Peace Corps Volunteer isn’t only about helping others, it’s also about finding ourselves and becoming something that we never dreamed of being. I love Peace Corps