Friday, October 30, 2009


Tonight two of my aunts, my mom's sisters, were visiting our house. The 13 year old girl who is technically my little brother's dad's aunt has always been referred to (to me) as my cousin, even though in practice she might be closer to a maid. We have been told that it is very common in Mozambique for orphans and such to be taken in as maids in exchange for food and shelter. But since she was always referred to as my cousin and she goes to school, I wasn't sure exactly how she fit into my conception of a maid, especially since in Mozambique it can be difficult to differentiate the concepts of being a woman and being a maid. But tonight my aunts explicitly referred to her as the maid. But I've gotten pretty used to not really knowing whats going on. One huge idea behind Permagardens that I forgot to mention is that when you show up to teach the techniques to families, you bring nothing with you: on tools, no special seeds, no fancy fertilizer. You hope they have a rake because your job is much easier with one, but if al they have is a hoe, you use only that. That is the entire philosophy of the Peace Corps. We don't show up to a place with lots of food, monetary aid, or fancy pamphlets. For one, the Peace Corps simply doesn't have the budget for that: last year the budget for the entire Peace Corps worldwide was $35O million--one half the military marching band budget (but I'm sure they are improving many lives). The Peace Corps strategy is to work on a person to person basis and to create sustainability so that even after we are gone, the improvements we have helped create can continue to exist. Rather than preach our Permagardens philosophy to as many people as possible, our hope is that during our two year here we can thoroughly teach it to one or two people/families. Because if they are able to adopt these strategies and improve their standard of living and continue to teach these strategies to others after we are gone, then we have truly made a difference.

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