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I feel like I need to start out with a big ol' apology to all of my previously-faithful blog following family and friends for falling off the bandwagon. The past few months haven't been easy ones for me at site and my access to technology minimal. Ergo, I had neither the motivation nor means to write.
I am delighted to say that is all behind me now. Things are finally picking up work-wise for me, and I couldn't be more excited about it. It's true what they say, that the days will seem to drag-on, but that suddenly you look at the calendar only to realize weeks and even months have flown by. Hard to believe I'm already over 1/3 done with my time here in Guinea, especially since it feels like my work has only just begun.
Horray for beesuits!
A traditional beekeeper w/ hive
I've been away from dear Timbi Tounni, and my beloved kitty, a lot lately, but it's been in the name of improving my skillset as a volunteer. I recently attended two Peace Corps trainings back-to-back. The first topic was Nutrition. It wasn't what I had expected as we spent most of our time discussing proper nutrition for pregant/ nursing women and small children. We had the opportunity to practice our skills by talking with mothers at the health center in Mamou about proper weaning and nutrition, and now my counterpart couldn't be more stoked about conducting sensibilizations at the Pita Centre du Sante as soon as I'm back in town.
The second training covered apiculture aka beekeeping and was more in line with my current project goals at site. I am working with the Timbi Tounni garden co-operative coordinator to form a beekeeping co-operative in Timbi Tounni and couldn't be more excited about it. Though I'll admit to being more than a little nervous about working with these popular pollinators when I signed up for the training. However, once the beesuit was on and the hive opened my anxieties seemed to dissipate. It's a pretty incredible feeling to be standing in the middle of so many bees and feel secure, akin to scuba diving except with bees instead of water.
Hopefully once I get back to site I'll be able to put this training to good use right away. My counterpart and I have already identified ten local beekeepers who are interested in joining the co-operative. You may be wondering why bother to start a co-operative if everyone is already keeping on their own. Valid question. Working together in a co-operative would enable them to try new techniques that can improve profits & harvest and be more environmentally friendly by spreading the risk across all members of the co-operative. It will also decrease costs by allowing them to share equipment like smokers and bee suits. Here's hoping that I'll be able to make these dreams into a reality in the not-so-distant future!
My other recent project ideas include refurbishing our local basketball court and hosting sports camps for the youth, starting an environmental club at the local middle school, conducting local biological surveys of flora and fauna (esp. frogs & toads!), and helping a local NGO get off the ground. Over and out for now, but keeping my fingers crossed that I'll have exciting news to share next time I see a keyboard.